Registered Nurse Education Requirements: How To Start Your Career As An RN

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registered nurse education requirements

Are you thinking of becoming a nurse? If so, then you should know the Registered Nurse education requirements. The first step to a nursing career is the right education. And nursing hopefuls should be aware that there is more than one approach in terms of getting the educational requirements. But first, let’s get to know what a Registered Nurse (RN) is.

What is a Registered Nurse?

A Registered Nurse is a healthcare professional that assists the physician in administering health care procedures to patients. Nurses account for the majority of healthcare professionals, with 2.6 million nurses in the US alone. Here are the typical Registered Nurse functions:

  • Taking a patient’s medical history
  • Recording patient’s symptoms
  • Establishing or updating a patient’s care plan
  • Providing emotional support to patient and patient’s family members
  • Performing diagnostic tests and procedures
  • Analyzing results
  • Operating hospital equipment and machinery

Types of Nurses

Being a nurse is an exciting and fulfilling career that’s never boring. There are several concentrations and fields to practice in. A nurse can be assigned to different stations, departments and specialties depending on the hospital’s need. Here are some examples of the different types of nurses:

  • OR Nurse (Preoperative and operative)
  • Specific Health Condition Nurse (Cancer Management Nurse or Diabetes Management Nurse)
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Geriatric Nurse
  • Cardio Nurse
  • OB/GYN Nurse
  • Psychiatric Care Nurse
registered nurse education requirements

Nursing Educational Requirements and RN Licensure

There are three ways for one to become a nurse. Here’s a thorough discussion on these three approaches:

Diploma Degree

This program takes three years to complete. This degree is usually administered at healthcare facilities, and is considered the least taken approach among the other two methods. A diploma degree requires a nursing student to attend classroom and clinical lectures and also pass exams. Before they earn their degree, the nursing student has to go through an internship process. A lot of Nursing Diploma graduates eventually pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

 Associate Degree

This is the shortest of the three methods—only takes 2 years to complete (but might take 3 years for some). This abbreviated program enables students to graduate faster so that they can right away land on entry level nursing jobs. The thrust of this program is to focus more on the technical aspects of nursing. Instructions for the Associate program also take place in the classroom and clinical setting. As with the Diploma Degree, a number of Associate Degree holders go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree. This is by far the most popular approach.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in nursing requires 4 years to complete. This program is more comprehensive compared to the Associate and Diploma programs. Students not only learn the technical aspects of nursing, they also study human behavior and development (2 subjects that are helpful in the nursing profession). The first two years are devoted to general science instruction, while the latter part focuses on the actual practice of nursing. Graduates of nursing with a bachelor’s degree have an edge career-wise over associate and diploma graduates.

All three programs are pre-requisites for a nursing graduate to take the licensure exam—the NCLEX RN. A graduate of nursing can only start pursuing her career as a nurse once she obtains the necessary license by passing the NCLEX. This licensure exam covers four parts: Psychosocial Integrity, Physiological Integrity, Healthcare Environment Safety and Health Promotion. In some states, they require all licensed nurses to pursue continuing education in order for them renew their license.

Salary and Career Outlook

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries. Thousands of nurses are sourced and hired every year. The employment growth rate of RNs until 2020 is estimated to be 26%. This means that being a nurse can be a lucrative career. Aside from hospitals, other employers who hire nurses are: nursing homes, clinics and home healthcare services.

Salary-wise, a nurse can make a pretty good living with an annual median salary of $65,470 (as of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Career advancement is also a huge possibility, given that there is a lot of concentration a nurse can specialize in.

Nurses are a vital cog in the healthcare machinery. The health care profession will literally be paralyzed without them. They not only provide technical care, but also emotional supports to patients and their families. Learn more about Registered Nurse education requirements today and you just might find for yourself a rewarding and fulfilling career in healthcare.

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