Nursing deficiencies are common. Nurses are required in hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, nursing homes, and home care. Learning how to be a nurse is a great way to get into the healthcare work.
1. Get your Diploma in high school or GED. You need to complete high school to complete the path to becoming any type of nurse (whether it’s an LPN, an RN, or anything else). You will need respectable grades to get to a good nursing school.
- Many nursing schools also require a pre-entry examination for acceptance into the nursing program. Most schools offer different services but recognize that they all need precondition courses. Typical pre-requisite courses include up to four years of English, math, science, social studies, and probably even a few years of a foreign language from high school and college.
2. Get an incoming job in the healthcare arena. Although not necessarily obligatory, some schools need prior experience in healthcare to be accepted into their curriculum. If you have the time and ability to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) this is a perfect first step. You ‘re not only going to begin to get experience, but it proves you are serious.
- It gives you a good stepping stone into the healthcare world when you are CNA in front of a nurse, and your future nursing coworkers will appreciate that you’ve been a helper before a nurse.
- Even working in a local hospital or doing admin work in a clinic looks fantastic on your curriculum vitae and shows the community. If you like the hospital environment, you’ll have a better understanding of the complexities of professional nursing. The more you get in this environment the more experience you get — regardless of what kind of experience it is.
- Some may find that doing the aid work makes them realize that nursing is not for them too.
3. Decide whether it is right for you to become an LPN/LVN. You are likely to run into CNAs, LPNs, and RNs in a hospital. LPNs are Practical (Vocational) Licensed Nurses. A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) can do the patient’s basic essential care, pass medication, and report the patient’s status directly to the Registered Nurse ( RN) or physician, typically under RN supervision. We are still professionals, but just less control. In around 18 months most nurses should be eligible to become LPNs.
- As opposed to the NCLEX-RN examination, LPN / LVNs take the NCLEX-PN exam.
- Recent trends in the profession have shown LPNs fading out of the hospital setting and into facilities and offices for long term care.
4. Decide if you’re eligible to become an RN. RNs concentrate on the pathophysiology behind it all. There is usually an RN in the “charge” of the LPNS, but after this, the RN is responsible for the patients of the LPN. The LPN and RN therefore also need to understand each other and interact with each other for the patient’s health.
- Rather than simply performing tasks, the RN needs to think critically on the job. Analyzing the findings of the study, transferring medicine, teaching patients why they are taking medication, carrying out treatment plans and supervisory positions are also part of the work of the RN.
5. Decide which program best fits your requirements. It’s easier than ever to become a nurse with the online school and weekend options. The job is still challenging but now there is versatility. Many services are online only. For those with families, this may be ideal. Some students need a classroom setting to learn from the environment and to benefit from it. For each type of nurse, different options are available.
6. Look at the services in LPN. There are programs for LPNs that get accelerated. Look into your particular approved program condition, as well as the pass rates on the NCLEX-PN for their graduates.
- For the most part, on the road to becoming an RN, this is just a pit stop. If that speaks to you, discuss their ADN or BSN program with your teacher. They can have built-in LPN classification once you are halfway through. Otherwise, know that after some eighteen months of training (mostly through hospitals or community colleges) you will become an LPN.
7. Look at services for RN. The standard path to becoming an RN involves an associate degree in Nursing (ADN) followed by a BSN. There’s a recent push for RNs to have an ADN degree over their BSN. The BSN degree focuses more on nursing research. There are even more opportunities for nurses with a BSN, as many employers expect potential candidates to have it.
- You should expect to spend two to three years for an ADN, and for a full-time student, a BSN is a complete, four-year degree, which means the BSN is a far more expensive choice.
- The jump in offered RN-to – BSN services has been more common over the last few years, a 22.2 percent increase between 2011 and 2012.
- Having your BSN eventually helps you to seek leadership roles, teach nursing students, lead the administration side, etc. It’s also invaluable to get a four-year degree at all in today’s culture.
8. Find alternative itineraries. There are a couple of other routes to become a nurse too.
- Since the 1970s, nursing diploma programs have declined significantly. Although these become increasingly less common, it is still a viable option.
- Go through the Army. You can study for two to four years at a college or university in an ROTC Nursing program.
- If you already have a degree of four years but it’s not in nursing, you should be able to devise an accelerated program. All you need to do is send your transcripts and start asking questions at your new school. It’s an incredibly, very popular occurrence. Many states also have different designations for this.
9. Submit to the College of Nursing. Once you’ve decided how to achieve this career goal, take a look at the schools and hospitals around you (also some hospitals offer programs). You ‘re going to have to decide if you want to take full- or part-time classes, how much you can spend if you want to live on campus and if you want to take any of the online classes.
- Be aware that the widespread nursing shortage at some schools has led to long waiting lists. Inquiring about this is best before you set your heart to one.
- When you are not working for a hospital, see if there are any services related to it. If you do, you may earn discounts.
10. Gain acceptance. Once you have chosen a school, you must apply and get in. What are you doing? Most programs may include transcripts (high school or college), SAT / ACT scores, and recommendation letters and essays. On-the-job experience is almost always a perk.
- If you can, get recommendation letters from people who also work in the healthcare sector. Request in person for expert guidance, rather than by telephone. If you do not work in healthcare, ask someone else who knows your work ethic, and wishes to become a nurse for a letter of recommendation. Ask them beforehand. Don’t rush him.
- Do not write on the essay on what you think is a reasonable answer; write down what you believe. Using heartfelt words will get you to stand out from other applicants.
Research and Get Certified
1. Be a top-notch learner. You will research anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, diet, psychology, and other social sciences and behavior. These rigorous courses plan to spend a lot of time working hard to perform well.
- If you need the inspiration to learn, note that once you are a nurse, the lives of the people will be in your hands. If you need more motivation, remember that it costs $200 each time you take the graduation exam. You can’t take it for another 45-to-90 days if you fail.
2. Ace to your clinics. Clinics are part of your education, but they’re in and out of the classroom. You ‘re going to really enjoy clinics if you’re a hands-on learner. Some of the appointments are performed to cover a school day and continue for the whole nursing program. They are based on a specialty like medical-surgical, pediatric, nursing, or psychiatric. You will learn a lot of skills here, but you have to be ready and willing to learn.
- Clinics are a normal working day unless they are paid in a medical degree program like residents.
- During clinics, it is normal to get stressed. You work with real people, after all, and you are still a newbie. Everybody’s going through this and the feeling is gone. Continue learning, and look for opportunities.
3. Prepare for NCLEX-RN. It’s a set of questions (between 75 and 265) that will test your expertise across a number of different domains. You are given 5 hours to finish the exam.
- Questions differ from person to person. The test will continue until the computer feels that with 95 percent confidence it has accurately determined your level of knowledge. Finishing with 75 questions means either you’ve done magnificently or very poorly, so don’t worry about how many you get.
4. Pass the test, and get certified. Learning hard and getting plenty of sleep in learning, is the best way to graduate. Know that the first attempt is passed by 81 percent of the candidates and if you come prepared you to have a great chance.
- Try taking advantage of one of the available prep courses to aid learning the potentially daunting amount of knowledge.
- The average number of questions is about 125, and it takes around 2.5 hours to get the full exam.
5. Look to your desired department for jobs. At this point, most nurses should have an idea where they want to work. You will enjoy the ER’s adrenaline rush, the OR’s concentration, working with children in pediatrics, working with labor and delivery infants, working with the elderly and patients in long-term care, etc. If you’re unsure, a medical-surgical unit will help solidify and prioritizing skills.
- Consider the fact that pretty much baby boomers are taking over. Working with the population 55 + will ensure stable jobs.
- It’s fun to work with kids but it can also be really sad. If you choose to go to pediatrics, you will face many situations that are simply not fair. In the pediatric area, there are a few options, including general pediatrics, pediatric intensive care units, pediatric oncology units, and pediatric home care.
- Mother/baby systems can be really hard to get inside. Everyone wants to be working with happy, excited, and healthy patients. Remember, with two lives in your hands at once, these areas are also very stressed. It is very sad when it is sad in those units.
- When you are joining this program, be prepared for several years to commit to a night shift job as most nurses who work in OB are not leaving.
- Nowadays most surgeries are scheduled. If you prefer normal working hours (a lot of nurses don’t), being an operative nurse may be down your alley. Otherwise, prepare for night shifts to work.
6. Find the perfect setting for your job. Because nurses are needed all over the place and at all times, you can imagine the multitude of forms they take. Of course, they work in hospitals but they also work in private homes, schools, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, etc.
- There’s the chance to be a traveling nurse too.
- Many places have 3rd shift, on-call, or standby nurses. Your ideal atmosphere will also allow you to choose between 8-, 10-, or 12-hour shifts. This may also be an option to switch between various departments.
7. Apply for work. Whether you worked in or through a hospital, so that’s the first go-to. If not, then apply wherever and wherever you can. Unfortunately with the recent economic slump, finding jobs, nursing jobs included, is getting harder and harder.
- Some places, however, prefer new grades (they cost less money), and there is still a boom in need of nurses.
- Often, practice interviewing questions and be ready for anything. Ask about the turnover rate for your future employer too. If your 20 percent or higher, maybe it’s not the place to start.
- Ask for a day or two to shadow before you decide you want to be working there. Your fellow coworkers’ attitudes can influence your decision.
- Ask for help. Expect a preceptor to get you trained. It depends on which unit you are working on but you are going to be qualified. Most programs of orientation last 6-12 weeks.
Getting your career moving
1. Specialize in. There’s probably some qualification after X number of hours in your department that you will be able to obtain. Attaining a credential would make you look like an expert in your profession and can open up more opportunities. Your hospital can give you a certification course, seminar, or training class in this field.
- Certifications available include Ambulatory Care, Cardiac Vascular Nursing, Faith Community Nursing, Forensic Nursing, Genetics Nursing, Gerontological Nursing, Informatics Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing, Nurse Executive — Advanced, Nursing Case Management, Nursing Professional Advancement, Pain Management Nursing, Pediatric-Mental Nursing, Psychiatric-Mental Nursing.
- That is what a slight increase in pay should come with, and certifications look great on a resume. If the chance comes, then take it!
- It takes you so many hours on that department’s floor before you’re even eligible for these certifications. Think of it more as an honorary badge, rather than as a specialization or certification.
2. Be confident about attitude. Nurses face many difficult circumstances. If it’s an especially nasty infection all over you, blood and excrement, or a really sick infant, it’s hard work. This is not unfit for the physical (nor mentally).
- You may feel bad at one point or another over something that happened to others, whether it was out of control or not. This profession isn’t always light on the spirit. If this is yet to be done as your profession, think about it before you make the jump.
- Most organizations have groupings for when unit events occur. Both organizations support debriefing conditions and are emotionally supportive of employees.
- A nurse’s schedule can be pretty intense. You could work three 12-hour shifts in a row before getting off for four days. When you work hours, there may be more to it. This could mean night shifts too. On your off days, you may even be on-call. Maybe sleep isn’t your constant companion. Keep your schedule alert and avoid any fatigue conditions.
3. Keep your licensing and your credibility. Requirements for eligibility to hold a license differ by state or city, so holding yours depends on where you live. Your employer would definitely regularly have you up-to-date in courses, conferences, and certification programs, however.
- Being up-to-date with your latest certifications is also your professional obligation. Each department will have work requirements. Common requirements are basic life support, advanced support for cardiac life, and others that are specific to your department of choice. BLS, ACLS, neonatal resuscitation, and fetal monitoring are often required for labor and delivery.
- It used to be that you were not licensed in another state because you were licensed in one state. Although that is still technically true, it is changing slowly. Some states have entered into the Compact Agreement on Nurse Licensure, allowing each other’s nurses to work within their borders. It’s now at twenty-four states and is counting.
- Depending on where you stay and whether or not you have been studying, you will need to retake your tests all that much. Look up the laws of your region to ensure that your license remains active. By searching the internet to satisfy the standards in your state, you can find different websites for the nursing board in your state.
- You’ll never need to retake the NCLEX unless you expire in renewal.
4. Enable continuing education. Whether you’ve got your LPN, ADN, or BSN, there’s always room for further education. In only one or two years, you will get your Master of Science in Nursing, allowing you to become a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, or nurse-midwife. Then you can do almost anything and go about pretty much anywhere.
- You will try a combined BSN / MSN in two to three years if you only have an ADN. You may need to follow specific criteria for certification and licensing. It is certainly worth looking into with the average salary 27 percent higher compared to regular RNs, though. ADNs raised about $64k in 2011, while BSNs won $76k.