The nursing field has many wonderful career opportunities for those who decide to enter it. Someone considering a career in nursing may decide to work in the private sector via home health agencies or they may opt to enter the hospital industry like so many others have done. Because every branch of medicine requires nurses, those pursing nursing degrees can choose which patients they prefer to work with. Some may prefer a nursing career in pediatrics while others may opt to work with the geriatric sector.

The reasons that people choose a career in nursing vary just as much as their nursing career options do. However, the most common reason people choose to enter the nursing field is the staying power of the industry. Further, the need for nurses increases exponentially each year. Recently, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) estimated that by 2020, the need for registered nurses in Texas alone will rise by 86%, while the number of registered nurses will only increase by 53%.

There are some basic requirements that must be met in order to become a registered nurse. Additionally, some states have their own list of criteria that a person seeking a nursing degree must meet. All colleges and universities will require that nursing students present proof of a high school diploma or its equivalent, the GED. A person who wishes to pursue a nursing degree has three options in their course of study.

Educational Programs

Diploma Programs

Diploma programs are nursing courses much like colleges and universities would offer, but are offered by hospitals themselves. These programs, which are increasingly harder to find, are generally three years long.

Associate Degree

Associate degrees in nursing (ADN) are offered by community and junior colleges. This type of nursing degree takes between two and four years to earn. While it is possible to work as a registered nurse with accreditation from either a diploma program or by obtaining an, most nursing students opt to continue their studies on a higher level. The reason for this is because it increases the number of job opportunities and salary ranges available to them.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) takes four years to earn. This degree is offered by colleges and universities. A degree is required for a person who wishes to hold the title of “RN”. The term “registered nurse” may be confusing to some. All nurses are registered with state and federal licensing agencies. These can be nurse’s aides (CNA) vocational nurses (LVN), medication aides (MA), and other supporting, supplemental staff. Only those nurses who earn a college degree from an accreditied university can be an actual “RN”. Many nurses get their associate degree & then take the exam, such that they can receive tuition reimbursement benefits while they finish their education.

Course Work

All degrees in nursing require both classroom instruction and supervised, hands on training in healthcare facilities. Aside from the actual nursing classes themselves, students pursing a nursing degree will also be required to take classes in behavioral sciences, anatomy, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and microbiology – just to name a few.

Licensing Exam

After completed the designated course and clinical studies, nursing students must take and pass a federal licensing exam called the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN in order to become a registered nurse. This exam will test their comprehension of what they have learned during the course and their score will determine if they are allowed to enter practice as a registered nurse. Many states also have local requirements to obtain certification & continuing education programs to maintain certification.

Master’s Degree and Other Continuing Education Programs

Registered nurses who have successfully completed their bachelor’s degree may choose to take advantage of advancement opportunities in their field by pursing a Master’s degree. Master’s degrees are required for specialized areas of nursing as well as some administrative and teaching positions within the nursing field. These degrees take an additional two years to earn and can be tailored to meet the requirements of the additional area of specialization that a registered nurse wishes to pursue These areas might be nurse practitioner, midwife, or anesthesia nurse.

Personal Trait Requirements

Although there is no rule book to go by to determine who would or would not make a good nurse, those who have a caring, sympathetic disposition usually do well in the nursing field. Further, nursing involves a high stress environment that those who have emotional stability issues may not be able to handle very well. The ability to cope with a wide variety of stressors and emotional triggers is a must for those thinking of entering the nursing field.

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