Q & A – How to Become a Registered Nurse


Are you looking for ways on how to become a registered nurse? Over the years, there have been continuous demands for nurses around the world. In fact, the Great Recession last 2008 helped resolve nursing shortage problems when more people chose to pursue nursing amidst layoffs and unemployment crisis. Because of this, nursing is considered as one of the most stable professions around rarely affected by economic recessions.

If you are interested in the nursing profession, learn from the following frequently asked questions on how to become a registered nurse.

Nursing students

What It’s Like to Be A Registered Nurse?

Once you become a registered nurse, there are plenty of work opportunities you can choose from to practice your profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 60% of nurses work in hospitals. The remaining 40% work in clinics, hospice care facilities, home care, schools, rehab and medical offices.

The daily work of a registered nurse revolves around providing patient care. In hospitals, hospice care facilities, rehab and home care daily tasks include assisting patients with their healthcare needs, preparing medications and contraptions, assisting doctors with medical procedures, providing health education and many more.

In clinics, RNs are expected to take and record vital signs, update patient records, assist in medical procedures and do health teaching.

In schools and medical offices, daily tasks revolve around paper and administrative work. Nurses in schools and universities teach aspiring nurses so they can be qualified for completion of their degrees and RN licensures. On the other hand, nurses in medical offices deal more with paperworks like completion of reports and research.

How Much Is An RN’s Salary?

The average salary of a registered nurse is a around $60,000 to $80,000 per year. The salary range of nurses depends on several factors like location, expertise, specialty and experience. Geographical location is one of the major factors affecting a nurse’s salary as most cities are balancing their employees’ median salary with the area’s average cost of living.

Looking at the present RN workforce, the upper 10% of best paid nurses have a median salary of $100,000 per year. On the other hand, the bottom 10% of the workforce make around $40,000 annually. Best paying cities for nurses include Los Angeles, San Diego and New York. Best paid nursing positions can be found in the field of acute and intensive care, anesthetics and psychiatric care.

Also Read: 8 Best US Cities for Nurses to Work In

Is There A Demand for Registered Nurses?

healthcare demands

The predicted job growth of nurses in the next years is promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2010 – 2020, around 1.2 million new registered nurses will be needed in the current workforce to address the country’s growing healthcare needs. The general population is aging as baby boomers reach retirement age by 2020 and this will mean increased demands for chronic care management in the next years.

In the current RN workforce, 35% of RNs are over age 50 and 9% are over age 60. The anticipated retirement of these nurses is expected to exacerbate the growing demands for RNs in the next ten years.

How to Become a Registered Nurse? What are the steps?

becoming a registered nurse

If you are interested to become a registered nurse, here’s a detailed guide on how to become one:

1. Complete An Accredited Nursing Degree Program 

To enter the nursing profession, you should first complete a nursing degree program. There are three options – a diploma, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree.

A Nursing Diploma typically takes two to four years to complete. This program is usually run by hospital-based nursing schools. Before admission, some nursing schools may require prerequisites to be completed at another school

An Associate’s Degree in Nursing takes two to three years to complete. Community colleges usually offer ADN where classroom discussions and supervised clinical rotations are both being given focus in the program.

A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing takes four years to complete. However, there are accelerated BSN programs that only take two years to complete if you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree before. Completion programs like ADN to BSN and RN to BSN programs are also offered by some educational institutions. These programs are for nurses who want to upgrade their diploma or associate’s degree in nursing to a bachelor’s degree. Completion programs usually take two years to complete.

2. Take and Pass the NCLEX-RN

After finishing a nursing degree program, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination. Most nursing schools assist their graduates in taking the exam. You must first register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and once you get the Authorization to Test from them, you can already sign-up for NCLEX-RN.

The NCLEX-RN examination is a computerized test composed of 119 questions on average to be completed within 6 hours. Once passed, you will get your license as a registered nurse. If you fail the exam, you will be given 45 days to retake it.

Also Read: All You Need to Know About the NCLEX Test

3. Complete Your State’s Requirements

Each state has different requirements for registered nurses to obtain their license to practice. Check your state’s requirements and apply for a state license. There are states that require additional documentations of education completed which may take time to complete. Some states are also requiring a background check before issuing a state license to RNs.

Once you have obtained a state license, you can already practice your profession as a registered nurse. Seek employment in your desired healthcare facility.

4. Prepare for Continuing Education and Additional Training

Earning Continuing Education (CE) units is important for nursing license renewal. Each state has varying CE requirements for nurses and it is best to earn CE units as soon as you start practicing your profession. You can earn CE units in various health organizations and through online.

If you want to be specialized in a particular field of nursing, additional training may be necessary. However, a post-graduate course or a Master’s Degree in Nursing may be necessary if you want to pursue a more independent scope of nursing practice like being a certified nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or a nurse specialist.

Also Read: An Ultimate Guide to Free Nursing CEUs

What is the Difference between RN and BSN?

Some registered nurses have a diploma or an associate degree in Nursing from a two-year program. Because of this, there are some institutions and nursing experts that consider ADN-trained nurses as technical-level employees while BSN-trained nurses are considered professional-level employees. Most nursing experts recommend completion of BSN degree for RNs to improve their career outlook in the future.

What Should Be Expected From Nursing In The Future?

In the future, expect that nursing will evolve along with the changing healthcare needs of the general population. New nursing fields may emerge to meet the diverse demands for individualized care among special-needs patients. Innovations in the medical field will also call for nurses to be flexible in adapting to new trends in the treatment of diseases.

Also Read: The Future of Nursing 2017 and Beyond

Lots of aspiring nurses are seeking for the quickest ways on how to become a registered nurse. You can be an RN in as fast as three years if you will maximize your nursing degree options and if you will focus in your studies. Becoming a nurse is the beginning of an amazing journey where you will have the privilege to touch people’s lives.

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