Important Aspects Of Becoming A Registered Nurse
Whether you are a new high school graduate or a mid-career professional looking to make a switch, nursing is a rewarding and stable career choice. I am often asked what are the best steps to become a registered nurse and if nursing is right for the individual. Nursing is not for everyone, so it is important to evaluate the steps carefully before investing time and resources.
What Are The Prerequisites For Nursing School Admission?
Prerequisites for nursing school differ amongst colleges. In general, life science based courses such as anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, and microbiology will be required. Some schools may also require medical terminology, ethics, psychology, or perhaps Math. If you are not excited about a math requirement, see if a “Math for Nurses” or “Statistics for Nurses” course is available and acceptable (however credits may not transfer to another school).
Which Nursing Degree Is Right For You?
Potential nursing students must choose between the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN, 2-year program) or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN, 4-year program). Both degrees qualify the individual to take the same NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Although the ADN route is faster, many hospitals are moving towards an all BSN staff requirement. Additionally, if you are interested in nursing management roles, especially in a medical center setting, a BSN will likely be the minimum degree required. Lastly, there may be on-line options for obtaining a nursing degree, however, scrutinize these carefully. If the online degree program does not provide a quality clinical experience, their graduates may still be able to pass the NCLEX but may struggle when providing actual patient care.
Nursing school is rigorous. There are early mornings and long days. In addition to classroom (didactic) learning, you will be required to complete clinical hours. These hours allow the student to learn alongside a licensed RN in a variety of settings such as intensive care, long-term care, obstetrics, psychiatry, and so on. Many nursing students are at their clinical/hospital setting early in the morning or late at night to review patient charts so they are prepared to begin providing care when their clinical education day starts. Some schools will substitute part of their required clinical hours with a simulated environment. This is done with a high-fidelity model or human volunteer that can closely recreate the patient environment: monitors, IVs, and all. The student is placed in specific learning situations that teach specify skills such as placing a urinary catheter. Other scenarios may be very complex, including a simulated cardio-respiratory arrest. These simulations are usually monitored by a professor and may be recorded for later analysis.