Nursing is a very noble profession. As a field of practice, nursing, offers many advantages over other professions. Nurses make a good living, have flexible schedules, and most of all care for people in their times of need. Moreover, unfailingly you will hear that it is a profession that is recession proof. Given the current global shortage in the field of nursing and the increasing demand for healthcare services, becoming a nurse is a great way to solidify your financial future.
To practice as a nurse, you will need to either be licensed or registered in the state or country you want to work in; it is possible to be licensed in several states simultaneously by meeting the respective requirements of each state. An online search or a look into your local yellow book will reveal many schools that offer nursing education. Upon completion of said program, you will be expected to pass a board licensing examination which accords you the ability to practice as a nursing professional.
Types Of Nurses
The Basics – There are two types of nurses with two separate paths to licensure, Licensed Vocational Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse (LVN/LPN) and Registered Nurse (RN). Both nurses assume the care of patients. It is faster to become an LPN, however, the duties of an LPN are limited and in most states LPNs work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse.
Advanced Nurses – Nurse Practitioners (NP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).
Nursing Specialties – too many to list in this article. That’s another series I am writing.
Please note that CNAs are not nurses but play the very important role of assisting nurses in fulfilling their duties.
Education & Licensure
LPN – After attending an LPN program, the graduate LPN student is expected to pass the NCLEX-LPN examination in order to become licensed. Many LPNs go on to become Registered Nurses by attending a bridge program – LPN to RN – which takes into consideration their experience as licensed nurses. This can be either an Associate Degree (AND) or Bachelors (BSN) program.
RN – RN programs are Diploma (as in Canada), ADN or BSN. Upon attendance of an accredited nursing program, a graduate nurse is eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Passing this examination will certify the graduate as a Registered Nurse and they are eligible to work anywhere in the world, in the full capacity of a nurse. BSN nurses can opt to go for an MSN. ADN nurses can attend a bridge program to obtain their Masters degree, RN to MSN. The path to management is open for those with a BSN and above. Moreover, there are institutions which opt to hire only RNs with BSN degrees.
For the nurses who are interested in management and autonomy, new and exciting career opportunities are available. Nurse Practitioners (NP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) are Registered Nurses who have attained a Masters Degree from program their of choice and thus achieved Advanced Practice status. You have to become a Registered Nurse in order to be eligible to for Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Anesthetists school. These programs are available as traditional on campus, online or a mix of both. Still, lots of RNs go on to retire happily after a long and rewarding career as an RN with a Diploma, ADN or BSN.
Getting Into Nursing School
Despite the shortage of nurses, getting into a nursing program can be very challenging and in some cities near impossible because of competition. You will find that the field of nursing attracts many individuals from different walks of life, educational background, and age groups. If you wonder if you can switch from an unrelated field to nursing, I am here to tell you that many do. It is worth the hard work you will endure and the wait; so do not despair.
This article is written to encourage you to become a nurse; I have done it and so have millions others world-wide. If you find that the city or state you live in is too competitive, do what many other successful candidates have done, attend an out of state program that has less bodies vying for the same positions. Below are the steps all nursing applicants must follow to gain acceptance into nursing school.
- Decide where you want to attend school. Select the nursing programs in that city and request admission guidelines.
- Make an appointment with a nursing admission counselor.
- During the appointment share a copy of your unofficial transcript with the counselor. Ask what you need to do to gain admission. This includes volunteering, Grade Point Average (GPA), and references (work, volunteer institution(s), and instructors).
This process may take several years. It depends on the number pre-requisites you need to successfully complete. I have been known to CLEP (College Level Education Program) out of some classes. Why pay and spend time in class doing the subjects you know you can read and pass. CLEP is a nationally recognized exam that gives you college level credits.
- Do your pre-requisites and pay attention to your grades. Do not take more classes than you can handle because this will affect your GPA.
- Join any volunteer organization that helps people and accords you one-to-one contact with people; church is okay, healthcare fields are a plus.
- Get references from employers, instructors and volunteer organization(s).
- Meet with a counselor to make sure you have everything you need.
Apply into nursing school. Graduate. Pass the NCLEX exam. Get a job. Practice as a nurse.
The employment outlook for nurses is very positive. With an expected growth rate of 18% by 2012 (HRSA), the future of nursing is promising. Once you have graduated, I have a series of articles that will help you land that dream job. Be sure to let me know you progress. I know you can do it. Good Luck!
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