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.