How to Become a Registered Nurse

Written by

Ray Grant Walden


August 14, 2014


RegisteredNurseRegistered nurses provide a large number of patients with all-around, almost nonstop care on a daily basis. Follow this guide on How to Become a Registered Nurse and learn what a fair Registered nurse salary is so you know what to look forward to when you complete your degree. To become a registered nurse, medical training is required, so browse accredited on-campus and online nursing degree programs below.

Becoming a Registered Nurse is a career choice right in line with the current generation. As our aging baby boomer population creates an increasing demand for quality healthcare and skilled healthcare providers, registered nurses will play a key role in controlling healthcare costs and ensuring that patients receive quality care. Long respected as a noble career choice, the popularity of registered nursing jobs will only continue to rise, making this career option what some call “recession-proof.”

What does a registered nurse do?

Registered nurses (RNs) are versatile members of any healthcare team. Registered nurses can be found employed in hospitals, private practice offices, outpatient clinics, home health settings, nursing care facilities, residential care facilities, schools, birthing centers, surgery centers and community clinics.

RN duties include providing direct patient services including treatment, education, administering medications, health screenings, performing diagnostic testing, assisting in treatment planning, completing medical charts, assisting in surgery, and providing emergency care.

Many nurses choose to enter in particular types of healthcare specializations, such as emergency room nurse (ER nurse) or working with particular groups, such as children, low income or the elderly. Employment opportunities for registered nurses can range from critical care or surgery, to holistic or occupational health, which provides nearly unlimited options for nurses to select a satisfying career path doing what they love. Look below to see all online nursing degree programs.

As well as being the most popular healthcare profession, Registered nurses (RNs) often enjoy higher salaries, more supervisory duties and more advancement opportunities than lower-level healthcare professionals like licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants. Registered Nurses regularly take on management duties in their roles in hospital and healthcare environments.

What kind of training does a registered nurse need?

For anyone considering whether and how to become a registered nurse,  the first step generally, is to qualify as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Becoming a registered nurse from a Licensed Practical Nurse can be accomplished by completing a 1-year practical nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN) administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. This allows you to begin working as a nurse as you continue your education to become a registered nurse. To learn more about becoming a registered nurse from a licensed practical nurse, read our nurse practitioner story about a real-life Canadian nurse who did become a registered nurse online while still working as an LPN.

There are three educational routes to becoming an RN. Prospective RNs can complete a diploma in nursing through a vocational nursing program, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) through a community or online college, or a bachelor degree in nursing (BSN) from a college or university. Although it is most common for prospective RNs to complete an ADN or BSN, graduates from all three of these nursing program types are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), which is the national licensing exam for registered nurses. This registered nursing exam is recognized by all state nursing boards. Browse below to find out more about how to become a registered nurse.

What are the prospects for a career as a registered nurse?

Registered nurse jobs make up the largest number of healthcare positions at 2.751,million strong. For anyone considering whether and how to become a registered nurse, this remains a field with strong job prospects. Jobs in nursing are expected to experience one of the fastest growth rates of any occupation in the country, with employment opportunities in nursing expected to increase by 16% between 2014 and 2024. Nursing employment in care facilities for the elderly, outpatient treatment clinics, and home health care are projected to experience higher growth rates than nursing opportunities in hospital settings. Registered nurses with at least a bachelor degree are expected to experience better employment prospects than those with associate degrees or diplomas in nursing. 

Registered Nurse Salary: How much do registered nurses make?

A Registered nurse salary is influenced by a number of factors, including geographical location, level of education and experience, and employment setting, such as in a hospital, private practice, home care or other healthcare setting. For example, the 2014 median pay for registered nurses was $66,640 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary range for RNs working as staff nurses is $59,000 to $66,100 across the United States. An ER registered nurse salary is generally higher at between $65,800 and $79,800. 

Things You’ll Need…

Once you decide to pursue a new career in nursing, you will need to go shopping and stock up on some medical essentials. Whether you’re starting a new nurse job or enrolling in a nursing program, buying some new nursing equipment will be unavoidable. That’s why we’ve done the work for you. If you’re starting a new nursing job, getting some new nursing uniforms and medical equipment will help you feel more confident on the job. If you’re enrolled in nursing school, buy your nursing textbooks at discounted and affordable prices. Check out our nurse shopping list below:

A certain kind of personality often excels among those who become registered nurses successfully. While being a registered nurse is often a rewarding experience, it can also be a challenging career path. Like most healthcare professionals, Registered Nurses often work very irregular schedules. Most work weekends and evening hours, and many remain on-call even when they are off the clock. While their schedules are often difficult, Registered Nurses are usually reimbursed for their tiresome duties with high salaries. They also enjoy knowing that they have made a positive and helpful impact upon their patients’ lives.

Registered nursing is the largest single occupation in healthcare and is relatively easy to enter as a career path. People who enjoy playing a primary role in ensuring better health and wellness are sure to find a nursing career a very rewarding choice. RNs can also have quite diverse jobs, depending on their work setting and area of expertise. Browse below to find out how to become a registered nurse online!

Becoming a Registered Nurse Requires Skills & Training Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Registered Nurse? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you! 

Also, check out our list of the 10 top nursing schools & best nursing colleges. If you already have a nursing degree, find out what to do with a nursing degree and what kind of jobs you can get after you’ve graduated from nursing school. Check out our list of the best paying nursing jobs if you’re still not sure you want to be a nurse!

Written by:  Ray Grant Walden

Ray Grant Walden attended American University College and now lives in Houston. He has enjoyed a very exciting career and has experience in a wide variety of professions, including college counseling.

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