A Beginner's Guide to Being a Registered Nurse

Nursing is a field that is often very rewarding and high in demand. With the aging population and new advancements in technology, Registered Nurses or more commonly known as RNs, will be readily needed to care for individuals and to understand new technologies. The process of becoming an RN is a path that many have taken and as long as the right mindset is set forth in inner and outer studies, the process will be self-gratifying.

What Is An RN?

A Registered Nurse (RN) is a health professional who routinely cares for patients and is often the face many see when seeking medical attention. The responsibilities of an RN are vast, but here are the typical tasks and duties an RN completes on a daily basis:

  • Updating patient’s charts
  • Conducting medical diagnosis
  • Supplies appropriate medications and doses
  • Creates and manages treatment plans

In most situations, an RN is usually the main medical personnel one sees when routine check-ups are needed or even when there is an unplanned visit to the doctor. RNs are able to successfully diagnosis patients although the seal of approval still must come from a doctor. A caring personality and the need to help others are greatly needed and most, if not all, RNs have these qualities.

Becoming an RN

In order for a person to become an RN, successful completion of high school is needed. This is most definitely the first step within the required training to become an RN. A high school diploma or a GED is acceptable and depending on the program and degree chosen, the prerequisites will vary. To get an early start in the necessary RN training, it is best to seek out as much Science, Math, English and Foreign Languages classes as possible while still in high school. By doing so, the progression into college will be much easier and the added skills will help tremendously later on with continued nursing studies.

Once high school is passed, it is then time to move on to a state-credited nursing school. There are different degrees available in the RN programs and these are as follows:

  1. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  2. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN programs)
  3. Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing (ELMSN) program

Each degree varies in the time spent as an Associate Degree is typically two to three years and a Bachelor Degree is four years. To obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), one can typically find classes being offered at local community colleges. These classes are designed to get the student mentally prepared and to learn as much as possible before taking the RN exam also known as the NCLEX-RN exam. If a student wants to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN), it helps prepare the individual with advanced settings and the tools needed to move up into administrative and leadership positions.

When a person has successfully obtained their BSN, there is still the opportunity for advancement. The Masters Entry Level Program in Nursing is designed for those who have a baccalaureate degree in another field but would like to become an RN. It typically involves an additional one to two years of training, depending on the number of prerequisites the person has, and once completed, the individual will gain an MSN Degree.

Obtaining an RN license

Each state as a Board of Nursing and the specific requirements will vary among the states before the required training is completed and an RN license can be issued. Typically, when a student passes all classes with good grades and successfully graduates with whichever degree they have chosen to pursue will ensure the proper path to obtaining a licenseand successfully passing the standard NCLEX-RN exam.

The next step in acquiring a license is to take the NCLEX-RN exam, which is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and is used to accurately access the student’s ability to apply the skills learned in nursing school. One must register to take the NCLEX-RN exam and a $200.00 registration fee is required, which is non-refundable. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing is a valuable resource when it comes time to take the NCLEX-RN exam as they will have the necessary four page registration form readily available to you that is required to be filled out before taking the NCLEX-RN exam.

Once the registration form has been properly submitted, it normally takes 5 to 7 business days before an Authorization to Test letter will be sent that allows the person wishing to become an RN to schedule a date and appointment time to take the NCLEX-RN exam. When taking the NCLEX-RN exam, it is important to remember that:

  • It is graded on a pass/fail basis.
  • The person cannot become an RN without successfully passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • The exam can be retaken; however, the person must wait a minimum of 45 days to a maximum of 90 days.

If the person successfully passes the NCLEX-RN exam, then an RN accreditation will be issued. The person will be allowed to work within the state the license was issued, so this means that if the RN would be like to work in a different state, he or she must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam for that specific state.

Working as an RN

As previously stated, choosing to become an RN is a rewarding career choice and is often greatly needed as the demand for health professional will continue to rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 2.6 million jobs within the healthcare field are comprised of RNs. There are a vast number of employment opportunities and although many assume that an RN career is strictly prohibited to a hospital, other areas include:

  • In-home care
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools

It’s also important to note that many RNs come into contact with infectious diseases and must protect themselves on a daily basis. Applying the skills learned through college courses will ensure that the RN will properly take care of the sick patient, themselves and the surrounding environment as needed.

To become a healthcare professional that many have come to love and appreciate, it only takes about 2 to 4 years and successfully completing the state approved NCLEX-RN exam. The employment opportunities for RNs continue to be on the rise and the need for more exceptional RNs is greatly needed. It is a fulfilling position that takes hard work, determination and a compassionate soul.