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How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)?

Registered Nurses constitute the largest group of health care providers, and their employment is expected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage of registered nurses was $64,690 in May 2010. Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. They may work in hospitals, physicians' offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities. They also work in correctional facilities, schools, summer camps, and with the military.

How do you become a registered nurse?

The final stage of the registered nurse training would be passing the NCLEX-RN test, a test administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Only after passing this test a person gets the Registered Nursing licensure.

In order to be able to pass this test you should first complete your studies in an accredited program preparing for this test. These programs will also give you an academic degree in nursing. The most popular option is an ASN or AND program, giving an Associate Degree in Nursing. Associate degree programs are offered by many universities and colleges, and will usually take about 2 years.

Another option would be to take a more intensive program of 4 years which gives a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN). Graduating from such a program will open for the would-be nurse more career options and generate higher salary. Many hospitals and other work places will prefer a nurse with a bachelor's degree, though many students prefer to first finish the ASN degree and get their RN licensure, and complete an RN to BSN bridge program later in the career, possibly after working as a RN for a year or two.

One more option that had been more popular in the past is to get a nursing diploma. Today not many options give this diploma, mostly it is found in schools hosted by hospitals. The studies for this diploma will be a bit shorter than those for the ASN degree.

In order to get into nursing school you will first have to finish your nursing prerequisites studies. You will have to first have a high-school diploma. Some nursing schools will ask you to take first a few college courses before applying to their nursing program. These courses will generally include Human Anatomy & Physiology, English, Math, and possibly some other courses, as Nutrition, Biology or Psychology - depending on the school. Other schools may require also a completion of some pre-med course, and possibly also some experience as a premed.


In order to become a RN, you should pass the following stages:

  • Complete your high school education.
  • Choose an accredited nursing school, and decide about the depth and length of the education you would like to have (diploma, Associate degree or BSN).
  • Find out the exact prerequisites of the program you would like to follow, and complete them.
  • Complete your nursing program of choice.
  • Pass you NCLEX-RN test.
  • That's it. You are now a Registered Nurse!

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