Nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession, one that is widely open and available to anyone willing to put in the time, effort, and commitment. And many people out there, regardless of their background, see this opportunity to make a real difference in the welfare and lives of others and take the first steps to becoming a registered nurse, or RN for short.
If this is something that interests you, you should of course understand the extent of the commitment. And the first stage to doing that is to understand better just what nursing involves in this country. We are all aware of what a nurse is, and we have almost certainly been on the receiving end of their vital care at some time in our lives. But familiarity with the profession is not the same thing as fully understanding what nurses actually do. Learning about nursing, therefore, is the first step.
What Does a Registered Nurse Do?
So, what can you expect when you become a registered nurse? The first thing to note is that precise roles and responsibilities can vary a lot across the many different healthcare environments within which a nurse can potentially work, whether that be public hospitals or private clinics, doctor’s offices, or schools. However, the roles of a registered nurse typically include the following:
- Observing and assessing patients
- Recording patient medical information for use by other healthcare staff
- Creating patient care plans
- Administering certain treatments and medications
- Providing ongoing wound treatment
- Collecting biological samples including blood, urine, stool etc.
- Educating patients and their families about the nature of their treatment.
In return for all this, you can expect high levels of job stability and a good salary, averaging $73,300 in the U.S.
Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse
The roles and places of work open to registered nurses can vary a lot, but the steps to becoming one are not nearly so complicated. There are three of them:
Get Your Degree
The first step to becoming a registered nurse is to earn the appropriate degree from an accredited institution. Precisely what degree that is and how long it takes can vary depending on where you want to work and from state to state. All RNs, however, will hold at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), which allows you to obtain your nursing license. The reason the nature and length of the degree can vary somewhat is that individual employers may have specific requirements. Nevertheless, earning your BSN is the first step to becoming a nurse.
Pass the NCLEX Exam
More exams? Unfortunately, yes. Once you have your degree, you can go for the Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, known as the NCLEX. This is the degree that will allow you to work as a nurse, and it tests practical knowledge. Bear in mind, however, that, if you fail, you will have to wait 45 days before you can retake the exam. But there is no limit to the number of times you can take it.
Obtain a State License
This step is naturally contingent on where you would like to work, as each state requires a different license. Each state will have its own unique requirements, so you will need to research this.
And after this step has been completed, you are officially a registered nurse with a license to practice. Then it is time to go job hunting. Searching for healthcare jobs on Health Jobs Nationwide and similar such sites is a terrific way to start, allowing you to connect with healthcare employers across the country. Good luck!