How to Become a Nurse
Nursing careers are a good choice for those who have a desire to provide medical care to others. A nurse is responsible for:
- Treating patients
- Keeping patient records
- Administering medications
- Assisting with medical tests
- Operating medical equipment
- Providing advice, education, and support
- Supervising staff members
- Running public health events such as blood drives
The majority of nurses work in hospitals, but many also find work in community and wellness centers, patients' homes, rehabilitation clinics, and nursing care facilities.
Nursing Education Requirements
If you want to be a nurse, you have plenty of options. The first choice is whether to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). It takes longer to train to become an RN, but the job prospects are excellent and you’ll receive higher pay.
LPN programs usually take one year and prepare you for the NCLEX-PN license. To obtain this license, you’ll need to complete a state-approved practical nursing program and pass a licensing exam.
There are three different ways to become an RN. One choice is to complete a hospital diploma program. This usually takes three years. Alternatively, you can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) in two or three years. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) takes four years, but this is the best choice if you hope to advance to a nursing specialty or an administrative job. To obtain the required NCLEX-RN license, you’ll need to complete a state-approved program and pass the national licensing exam. Nurses must also renew their licenses periodically through continuing education.
Job Opportunities for Registered Nurses
Job opportunities for RNs are expected to be excellent, and employers have reported difficulty in finding an adequate number of RNs. It is expected that 581,500 new nursing jobs will be available over the next few years. Hospital jobs for LPNs are declining, but employment is growing in nursing care facilities and home health care services.
In 2008, registered nurses earned median annual wages of $62,450 and LPNs earned $39,030. By earning your nursing degree you will be eligible to earn high wages and will see better job opportunities within this field.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition