Nursing Schools: Providing Three Ways to Becoming a Registered Nurse
Registered nurse (RN) is predicted to be one of the fastest growing occupations from 2008 to 2018. A prospective RN will need to decide what educational approach fits their life and learning needs. With 3 different educational approaches for student RNs to take, anyone can become an RN. After deciding what educational approach to take, a student can select what nursing school is appropriate for them.
Prospective RNs can choose 1 of 3 different educational approaches. These include:
- Associate degree in nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN)
An ADN is typically taken at a community or junior college. Most students will be able to complete an ADN in 2 to 3 years. Although an ADN allows RNs to begin working in entry-level jobs quickly, it can also limit the chances of receiving a promotion or raise. Employers are generally looking for RNs with at least a BSN now.
However ADN-holders may be able to work in an entry-level position and enter a work-study program for a BSN. Some employers will encourage ADN-holders with potential to go back to school for their BSN. Employers may offer time off or tuition reimbursement to help.
A BSN is usually offered by a 4 year college or university. Students should be able to finish a BSN in about 4 years. A BSN generally provides more hands-on experience compared to an ADN. BSN programs train students in communication and leadership more than ADN programs. A BSN is quickly becoming the minimum requirement for many nursing positions.
ADN and BSN programs can be found across the country in hundreds of educational institutions. Nursing programs at the top tier institutions often are paired with a college or university affiliated hospital for internships and hands-on experience.
A nursing diploma is offered in hospitals. Diplomas should be completed in roughly 3 years. A diploma is relatively rare because very few hospitals have the capacity to both treat patients and educate diploma students full-time.
A master’s degree in nursing (MSN) typically is taken by a student who has an ADN, BSN, or a degree in another field. Professionals who want an MSN and who have at least a bachelor’s degree in another field can complete their MSN in about 2 years.
For professionals who have at least a bachelor’s degree in another field, accelerated BSN programs are also available. A typical accelerated BSN program lasts between 12 to 18 months. An accelerated MSN program will last about 3 to 4 years if studied full-time and will give the student a BSN and MSN at its conclusion.
The requirements for nursing programs may vary depending upon the educational institution and what kind of educational approach a student is applying for. Requirements may include:
- Being at least 18 years old
- A criminal background check
- Grade requirements if certain courses have previously been taken (for example, a ‘C’ minimum in anatomy)
- An interview with admissions professionals
- A physical health examination
- Possession of liability insurance
- Turning in a high school or college transcript
Because there are currently not enough nursing programs and schools to adequately meet demand, students may have to take a position on a waiting list. The waiting list at some of the most popular educational institutions may reach 3 to 5 years for nursing programs. However a wait time of 1 to 3 years is more common, especially at smaller colleges and universities. Waiting lists for nursing programs are expected to decrease as more facilities expand.
After graduation, a student will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) before they can receive their license. Most states require that nurses renew their licenses on a periodic basis. Renewal requirements may include:
- Continuing education
- No criminal charges since the last renewal
- No malpractice charges or lawsuits pending
Some states may have additional requirements that can affect a prospective RN’s eligibility for a license. The license examination may have an extra state-specific portion as well. Prospective students who have not entered a nurse program can contact their state board if they want to begin studying for the examination early.
Graduated RNs may return to the same nursing school to complete continuing education requirements or study for a certification and specialization. Some specializations include:
- Ambulatory care
- Diabetes management
Specializations may result in a promotion or a raise for RNs. Most hospitals employ multiple specialized RNs who cover general nursing duties but also apply their specialization knowledge to patients’ care. Their work duties vary depending upon the patients who are currently in the hospital.
Returning RNs may also come back to a nursing program to become an advanced practice nurse. Currently 4 major types of advanced practice nurses exist:
- Clinical nurse specialists
- Nurse anesthetists
- Nurse midwives
- Nurse practitioners
RN is becoming an increasingly popular job choice. With a severe lack of qualified RNs and the increasing need for them, students should look into the career. It offers hands-on work for friendly and extroverted people. As prospective RNs prepare for their career, nursing school provides the tools and training they need in order to succeed.