There is no doubt that nursing is a very important profession as far as modern healthcare is concerned. Throughout the United States, nurses are needed not just for bedside care alone but also for education and leadership roles as well as advocacy.
So what exactly do you need to become a nurse? Here is some helpful information about becoming a nurse that just may help solidify your career path.
Choose A Nursing Path
The first step you need to become a nurse is to choose a nursing career path. This is important because nursing can take you in so many directions and working environments. For example, you might want to start as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or a staff nurse and simply work your way up the ladder.
You can also opt to start as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and later further your education to become a Registered Nurse (RN). It’s important to note that you can always opt to pursue a four-year degree course and enter the workforce as an RN.
When choosing the nursing path to take, the type of environment you’ll be working in is just as important. For example, CNAs usually work in nursing homes, whereas RNs work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, among other medical environments.
Additionally, you also need to consider the type of role you’d like to be playing. For instance, if you’d like to be among the support medical staff team, then an LPN/CNA will be the ideal path for you. On the other hand, if you’d like to manage other nurses and oversee systems, you’re best suited to be an RN.
Choose Your Nursing School
Another crucial step towards becoming a nurse is choosing a nursing school. Choosing the best nursing school for you can be such a daunting task because there are so many options out there, all with their own benefits.
However, it’s very important to note that the best nursing school for you will depend on your nursing career goals, education level, among other factors. When choosing the nursing school of your choice, you’ll need to think about NCLEX pass rates.
NCLEX is basically the state nursing board exam you ought to pass to become an RN. For this reason, before you go for a particular nursing school, ensure that you look up your state’s board of nursing websites to learn about the pass rates of various nursing schools.
Earn A Degree
Nursing degree programs usually incorporate classroom work and clinical experience. This basically means that you won’t earn a nursing degree by simply sticking your nose in a book; you’ll need some clinical training to sharpen your nursing skills. You’ll only be able to get this practical hands-on experience by interacting with patients in the hospitals as well as other community settings.
If you’d like to become an RN, you might opt for an associate’s degree because it takes less time to complete and allows you to get a job sooner. However, the downside to this is that employers might prefer to hire a nurse who holds a bachelor’s degree since they usually have a more in-depth education.
On the other hand, if you’d like to become an APRN, you’ll be required to have a master’s degree or a doctorate level degree. So what is APRN in nursing?
An APRN is basically a nurse who holds a master’s degree or a doctorate in one of four specific roles, namely nurse practitioners (NP), certified nurse-midwife (CNM), certified nurse anesthetics (CNA), and clinical nurse specialists (CNS).
After you’ve completed your education, you’ll be required to take a licensing exam to demonstrate your nursing skills and knowledge. If you’re planning on becoming a nurse, you need to understand that you’ll need to be licensed in order to practice in any hospital, and exams are the most important component of licensing.
For example, if you’d like to become an LPN, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-LPN). On the other hand, if you’d like to become an RN, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN. Additionally, if you’re pursuing a CNA designation, you’ll be required to pass a state competency exam in order to obtain a state license.
Once you’ve been properly educated and licensed, the next step for you is to obtain employment. Fortunately, nursing is one of those fields that are ever-growing in the United States. According to recent reports by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the nursing field is only going to grow bigger in the coming years.
This means that getting a job as a nurse in a hospital of your choice won’t be so difficult. Additionally, with the increasing popularity of the nursing profession in recent years, competition for open positions will only get healthier.
Choose A Specialty
One of the most important things you need to do to become a nurse is to choose a specialty that you’ll focus on in your nursing career. This usually happens after graduating from a nursing program and passing the NCLEX exam.
If you’re planning on becoming a nurse, it’s very important to understand that choosing a specialty right away isn’t the best decision you can make for your nursing career. This is because some of the most popular nursing positions out there might require specific certifications or even advanced degrees.
For this reason, it’s best to find out what each nursing specialty requires before rushing to make a decision. Some of the popular nursing specialties you can choose from include critical care nursing, nursing midwife, neonatal nursing, clinical nursing, among others.
Become A Lifelong Learner
The healthcare industry is one of those industries that are constantly evolving. This means that there are new technologies and efficient treatment methods that you’ll need to learn for you to stay relevant in the field.
For you to keep working at the front lines of the healthcare sector, you’ll have to become a lifelong learner. The best thing about becoming a lifelong learner in nursing is that you position yourself ideally to take advantage of new opportunities and take on new roles as they come up.
Some of the ways of becoming a lifelong learner are by getting certified, earning an advanced degree, and taking continuing education courses.
Nursing can be one of the best professions you can pursue if you’re passionate about helping people and saving lives. If you’d like to become a nurse one day, ensure that you strongly consider the tips above. There are many career paths you can choose in the nursing field, so make sure you are committed to seeing an entire career path through before making a decision on how to get started.