Learn About Nursing School and Careers

There are many rewarding careers in the health industry. And nursing is a popular career path as many nurses find their jobs fulfilling. Furthermore, hospitals and doctors need nurses. A nurse is mediator between patients and doctors and is the one who assists with treatments. They have many roles and are an integral part to a patient’s recovery. 

To become a nurse, you must first attend and finish nursing school. Afterward, it is essential to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). No matter what kind of nurse you want to be, you must take and pass this exam. However, after attaining your nursing license in your state, you can follow a number of paths in your nursing career. For instance, you can remain a registered nurse or specialize. Specializations include pediatrics, oncology and anesthesia. Read below to learn about the requirements to become a nurse and the various kinds of nursing careers that are available.  

About Nursing School

Before you can begin working as a nurse, you must attend and graduate from nursing school. Nursing programs are highly specialized and focused on science. Courses such as microbiology, anatomy and chemistry are common requirements. Additionally, many classes are accompanied by a lab component. 

Unlike many other degree programs, you will be required to complete clinical rotations. These will give you a chance to explore different nursing paths such as pediatric, psychiatric or geriatric nursing. Rotations can start as early as your first year depending on your school’s curriculum.  

You must apply to nursing school in order to attend. Each school has its own set of requirements that you must meet to be accepted. Program administrators analyze certain components of your application to determine if you meet the criteria. For instance, your GPA will be important as well as your SAT or ACT score. 

Depending on the program you choose, it will take two to four years to finish your nursing degree. However, if you choose to obtain a higher degree such as a masters or doctorate, it can take up to eight years to complete.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

A registered nurse (RN) has many roles and duties. Nursing school graduates who do not  wish to specialize or obtain additional certification can remain as registered nurses. Most RN programs will require four years of education. However, you can first become a nurse practitioner (LPN) or obtain an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) before continuing education to become an RN. 

To become a registered nurse, you must first meet the requirements to attend nursing school. This must be a nationally accredited school. However, you do not need to attend a university a college to obtain your degree. Your school can be online, although you will be required to complete certain components in person. 

After graduating from nursing school, you must register for and pass the NCLEX exam. There are a minimum of 75 questions on this test that cover topics ranging from pharmacology to techniques for providing basic care to patients. Afterward, you must obtain a license to work in your state. Conversely, multi-state licenses are also available. 

Process to Become a General Nurse Practitioner

To become a nurse practitioner, you must follow the same steps as a registered nurse. Every resident interested in any nursing career must complete some basic requirements before they can advance to other positions. For instance, a general nurse practitioner must graduate from nursing school. Then, he or she is required to pass the NCLEX exam and obtain state licensure. 

A general nurse practitioner positon requires additional education and experience. They attend nursing school for a longer period of time to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). Depending the program, some APRN candidates will be required to obtain RN experience before pursuing an advanced degree. Other programs allow students to work toward becoming a nurse practitioner while working as RNs. By the end of their education and training, nurse practitioners come out with a master in nursing. 

After acquiring specialized training and education, you will be able to perform additional clinical duties that registered nurses are not licensed for. For instance, nurse practitioners are permitted to write prescriptions, diagnose patients and create plans for treatment. 

How to Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist requires many years of post-secondary education. On average, it takes seven years to become a nurse anesthetist. Students are required to accumulate 2,500 clinical hours and administer approximately 850 rounds of anesthetics before they can be certified. 

Prior to becoming a nurse anesthetist, you must practice as a registered nurse in acute care settings such as emergency rooms. Then, you must be accepted into and graduate from an accredited nurse anesthesia program. This can take two to three years to complete. Afterward, you must obtain certification through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).

After obtaining their certification and license, nurse anesthetists must maintain their certifications. This requires getting recertified every two years and accumulating 40 hours of continuing education. Additionally, to be recertified, you must hold a valid RN license, be able to verify that you worked in anesthetics during those two years and remain free of mental or physical conditions that can impair your ability to work.  

How to Get Started in Pediatric Nursing

Becoming a pediatric nurse requires completing many of the same steps as a registered nurse. For instance, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited school. To get a head-start on your pediatric nursing career, you can take classes focused on child care. Afterward, you must pass the NCLEX and obtain your state nursing license. 

After becoming certified as a registered nurse, you will have to obtain more than 1,000 hours of clinical pediatric experience in a two-year period. Then, you must pass the pediatric nursing certification exam (CPN) which is administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). 

Thus, you are not required to obtain a master’s or doctorate’s degree to become a pediatric nurse. However, many nurses seeking to work in pediatrics do obtain their master’s degrees and work as pediatric nurse practitioners.

Nursing Salaries

There are many factors that contribute to a nurse’s salary. First, your level of education has a big impact. While a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree can earn an annual salary of $68,000, a nurse practitioner can earn more than $100,000 per year. 

Additionally, salary amounts depend on the state that you work. For instance, an RN can earn $58,000 per year working in West Virginia. However, a nurse with the same qualifications can earn nearly $75,000 in Washington D.C.  

Furthermore, acquiring a specialized certification will also earn you a higher salary no matter what state you live in. For instance, the median income for an oncology nurse is $90,000 per year whereas a geriatric nurse can earn between $70,000 and $80,000.