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Registered Nurse Education Requirements

Registered Nurse Education Requirements are less extensive than you think.  For example, most Registered Nurses go to school for only 2 to 3 years.  Considering you can make as much as $65,000 per year, this might be an excellent option for getting a rewarding career.  In addition, some Registered Nurses make as much as $95,000 per year depending on what setting you work in.  These types of Nursing Careers can be received when you fulfill your Registered Nurse Education Requirements.

Although this might appear to be too good to be true, it is not.  The US is expected to have a shortage of over 18,000 nurses over the next 10 years and expected to add over 700,000 jobs.  Nursing is currently the largest medical profession and because of the excellent skills you will gain, it is not expected to slow down.  If you are interested in How to Become a Registered Nurse or What Does a Nurse Do, then see our articles.

Registered Nurse Education Requirements

Becoming a Registered Nurse can be done through three education paths.  These Registered Nurse Education Requirements will allow you to become a RN and give you the ability to practice in any medical setting.  Above all, these education requirements are not burdensome and can be done fairly easily if you put your mind to it.  Here are the three education paths:

  1. Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  2. Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN)
  3. Diploma of Nursing

Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is an American and Canadian four year academic degree in the science and principles of nursing, granted by a tertiary education university or similarly accredited school. Though one is eligible to sit for the a licensing examination to become a registered nurse after graduating from either a two year program with an Associate’s Degree (ADN) or from a four-year program with an Bachelor’s Degree (BSN), the BSN prepares nurses for a professional role away from the bedside with coursework in nursing science, research, leadership, and nursing informatics.

This degree can be found at most universities throughout the United States.  In fact, there are hundreds of colleges that offer this degree.  Currently, this degree will include typical nursing classes such as biology and anatomy but will also include social science courses and other electives.  This is an excellent degree program to become a Registered Nurse because often a BSN will receive higher pay and has the option to pursue further education in nursing graduate programs.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN)

An Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) is a tertiary education nursing degree. In the United States, this type of degree is usually awarded by community colleges or similar nursing schools. Some four year colleges also offer this degree. Students awarded an Associate of Science in Nursing are qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN and apply for licensure as a Registered Nurse. Some hospital-based nursing schools that granted diplomas altered their curriculum to offer associate degrees. Many nursing schools offering a bachelor’s degree have “fast-track” programs to enable practicing nurses with an associate’s degree to earn a bachelor’s degree in approximately two years. In some institutions this is called “Bridging.”

This degree can be found at most universities throughout the United States.  These two to three year programs are geared towards someone who would like to finish school quickly, but still be able to become a Registered Nurse.  In these programs, you will take only the required nursing courses and nothing beyond those courses.  This is an excellent option because you will be able to enter the workforce a year or two earlier than BSN graduates and often the ASN degree costs less.

Diploma of Nursing

A Diploma in Nursing or Nursing Diploma is an entry-level tertiary education nursing credential. In the United States, this diploma is usually awarded by hospital-based nursing schools. Students awarded a Diploma in Nursing are qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN and apply for licensure as a Registered Nurse.

The Diploma of Nursing is similar to the ASN Degree in that it takes a shorter amount of time, often less than Two Years.  These programs are much more career focused on Nursing only.  The advantage to this path is flexibility.  Often these programs offer 1 class per month or weekend courses and allow you to become a Registered Nurse.  You will still take the required coursework, however you will have a much more focused curriculum and clinical schedule.  Overall, this is a great option for someone with a family that cannot commit the time necessary for the BSN or ASN Degree.


What Does a Nurse Do

What Does a Nurse Do?  This is a common question for anyone interested in nursing as a career.  Nursing is a career path that can lead you down many different roads.  Although you might assume nurses simple work in hospitals and physician offices, that could not be further from the truth.  Yes, a majority do work in those settings and perform those tasks, however nurses work in various different settings and perform multiple tasks in these settings.

First, you should understand that the question asks What Does a Nurse Do.  This question depends on the actual work setting of the nurse. For example, the duties in a hospital might be much different than the duties in a school setting.  On top of that, nurses might be working in a specific area that does not require actual clinical care for a patient.

This means that some nurses might be managers while other nurses might be executives in an organization.  Here we will analyze the job description of a nurse.  If you want to understand How to Become a Registered Nurse, just click the link!  Also, if you are interested in the Registered Nurse Education Requirements, then feel free to click that link too!

What Does a Nurse do?

You will be interested to know that a Registered Nurse performs many different functions.  For now, we will discuss the tasks a Registered Nurse performs in common settings such as hospitals and physician clinics.  Some of these tasks/skills include:

  • Working with a Team of Physicians and Other Registered Nurses
  • Work with a Set Number of Patients Per Day
  • Draw Blood
  • Place IV Lines
  • Access Portacaths
  • Place NG Tubes
  • Advise Patients and Families on Care Plan
  • Work with Physician to Develop Care Plan
  • Educate Patients on Health, Wellness, and Fitness

These are some of the typical tasks that a Registered Nurse wil perform in a hospital or physician practice setting.  In a Hospital, a Registered Nurse will be assigned 4 to 6 patients for the day and will care for those patients.  90% of the time the RN will be the primary caretaker for the patient rather than a physician.  Often physicians only see patients a couple times a day which means the RN is primarily responsible for the care of that patient.


In a Physician Practice, an RN will handle the initial consultation with the patient.  For example, when a patient comes in, the first person the patient sees will be the RN.  After the initial consultation, the RN will report the status to the physician and they will discuss the proper treatment methods.

However, there are numerous other areas that nurses work in.  For example, a nurse can work as a Manager.  As a manager the nurse will work as the leadership of a hospital unit or various units.  This includes scheduling and patient intake.  Registered Nurses can even work as Executives within a hospital.  This often requires the nurse to work as a manager prior to becoming an Executive.

Finally, nurses can work in Schools, Prisons, and Community Centers.  In these settings the Nurse is normally the primary caregiver and has ultimate responsibility of the care of patients.


How to Become a Registered Nurse

Here is the Ultimate Guide on How to Become a Registered Nurse.  Often, people do not realize the numerous benefits that a nursing career can provide for you.  Just to name a few, you will receive high pay, rewarding bonuses, and a flexible schedule, all for becoming and RN.  Becoming a Registered Nurse has never been easier, and here we will show you step by step how to become a Registered Nurse.

Nursing is one of the fastest growing career paths.  In fact, there will be a shortage of 18,000 Registered Nurses over the next 10 years with over 700,000 jobs available.  Registered Nurses make on average $65,000 however some Registered Nurse Salaries exceed $95,000.  Here is our guide in Becoming a Registered Nurse.

Step 1: Decide on Your Education Path

Becoming a Registered Nurse can be done in three different ways.  We will analyze the three different methods below.  Although all of these education paths are different, each Nurse will walk out of school as a Registered Nurse.

  1. Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  2. Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN)
  3. Diploma of Nursing

Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing is a Four Year Degree that can be found at most universities throughout the United States.  In fact, there are hundreds of colleges that offer this degree.  Currently, this degree will include typical nursing classes such as biology and anatomy but will also include social science courses and other electives.  This is an excellent degree program to become a Registered Nurse because often a BSN will receive higher pay and has the option to pursue further education in nursing graduate programs.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN)

The Associate’s Degree in Nursing is a Two to Three Year Degree that can be found at most universities throughout the United States.  These two to three year programs are geared towards someone who would like to finish school quickly, but still be able to become a Registered Nurse.  In these programs, you will take only the required nursing courses and nothing beyond those courses.  This is an excellent option because you will be able to enter the workforce a year or two earlier than BSN graduates and often the ASN degree costs less.

Diploma of Nursing

The Diploma of Nursing is similar to the ASN Degree in that it takes a shorter amount of time, often less than Two Years.  These programs are much more career focused on Nursing only.  The advantage to this path is flexibility.  Often these programs offer 1 class per month or weekend courses and allow you to become a Registered Nurse.  You will still take the required coursework, however you will have a much more focused curriculum and clinical schedule.  Overall, this is a great option for someone with a family that cannot commit the time necessary for the BSN or ASN Degree.

Step 2: Apply

Once you have decided on a nursing education path, you will need to apply to various programs.  We would suggest applying to 4 to 6 schools, that way you are sure to get into one of them.  The application process can be tough, but it is necessary to become a Registered Nurse.  Research different degree programs in your area or online and decide which programs to apply to.  Because the curriculum is nearly identical in all programs, it ultimately comes down to where you personally would like to attend school.

If you are applying for your BSN, you will need to have graduated from high school and likely have taken the SAT or ACT entrance exams.  Because these programs are at four year universities, those tests are normally required.  In addition you will need letters of recommendation and your high school transcripts.

If you choose an ASN or a Diploma of Nursing program, you will need to have graduated from high school, however you will likely not have to have taken the SAT or ACT entrance exams.  This is an excellent option for anyone that has not taken these tests and often the application process is very quick.  These programs can be competitive, however you should apply early.

Step 3: Graduate

Once you have chosen and started to attend a school, you must graduate with the degree to become a Registered Nurse.  All states require one of these three education path options when someone is attempting to become a Registered Nurse.  Once you have graduated from your program and completed your clinical hours, you will be able to sit for the NCLEX Exam which allows you to become Certified as a Registered Nurse in your state.

Step 4: NCLEX Exam

Now that you have graduated, you must pass the Nursing Board Exam or NCLEX to become a Certified Registered Nurse.  We will be providing many resources for you in your quest to pass this exam.  Here is some information about this exam:

NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure EXamination-Registered Nurse). All Boards of Nursing in states and territories of the United States require candidates to pass this exam for licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN).

Exam content

The majority of test items are written at the application or higher levels of cognition but the exam may include items at all of the cognitive levels; mainly, memorization or recalling, knowledge, analysis and application.

The exam’s content is based on client needs:

  • Safe Effective Care Environment
    • Management of Care
    • Safety and Infection Control
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Physiological Integrity
    • Basic Care and Comfort
    • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
    • Reduction of Risk Potential
    • Physiological Adaptation

Question types

Most of the questions of the NCLEX-RN exam are worded multiple choice questions. In recent years, however, the Boards of Nursing have added broader questions that don’t involve multiple choice. For example, some questions:

  • Require identifying and selecting a particular area of a drawn body-part pertaining to the question
  • Involve selecting multiple correct answers (via check boxes)
  • Calculating an answer for a mathematical question (usually for medication dosages) and inputting the answer
  • Arranging according to order a certain medical or nursing procedure (e.g. how to don sterile gloves, or how to do a guaiac test)

Candidates will also encounter fill in the blank questions. Besides multiple choice, these are what are known as “New Format Questions”.

Once you have passed the exam, you will now become a Certified Registered Nurse.  We hope you enjoyed our guide on How to Become a Registered Nurse.