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Nursing Studies Prerequisites Overview

Going to nursing school can be a life changing experience. With so many careers open in the medical field, nursing is one of those careers that will always be stable no matter the economic climate. Whether you are looking into entry-level training courses, BSN or MSN programs, or anything in between, having the right prerequisites is key for entering any quality nursing program.

Registered Nurse (RN) is one of the most coveted titles for aspiring nurses. RNs work in a variety of healthcare settings that include clinics, nursing homes, hospitals and doctors` offices. They provide compassionate, critical care to patients suffering from illness or injury and administer medication and other treatments as per the doctor`s instructions. An RN is the face that every patient will see and come to trust, so having great people skills is a plus.

Anyone interested in becoming an RN should have earned good grades in high school, not having a GPA less than 2.0. Although not required, it`s a good idea to take health science, biology and anatomy and even first aid in high school. Courses in communication are also encouraged. Nursing degrees offered by credible education institutions will require standardized test scores, so take the ACT or SAT in high school and strive for high scores.

An Associate of Science in Nursing is often the first step for many students before moving on to a bachelor`s degree. A bachelor`s degree program is not required to become a nurse, but nurses with Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees under their belt tend to earn more money in their career.

Associates degrees are ideal for obtaining entry-level nursing positions because they only take about two years to complete. Courses generally deal with health sciences, microbiology and physical assessment. This degree serves as the prerequisite for taking the NCLEX-RN licensure exam to become a registered nurse.

The BSN option does everything that the associate`s degree does, but it serves as a bridge for students who want to go on to a graduate level program. BSN programs typically take four years to complete but sometimes five if there are additional general education requirements that must be met before getting into the nursing program. There is plenty of hands-on experience during clinicals to better prepare students entering the nursing field.

The Master of Science in Nursing program requires the student to already be licensed as an RN and hold a Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree. RNs that choose to pursue a master`s degree often do so in order to specialize in a particular field that will qualify them for positions like neonatal nurse, nurse educator, clinical nurse specialist and more. Master`s programs require two additional years of schooling beyond the undergraduate level and a minimum number of clinical hours are required to complete the degree.

In order to become a registered nurse regardless of educational experience, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (the NCLEX-RN). This licensure must also be renewed periodically after becoming a nurse. The only way to qualify to take the NCLEX-RN is to graduate from an accredited university or nursing program that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Another option is a licensed practical nurse (LPN). LPNs work in doctors` offices, hospitals, private homes, public health departments and any other place where registered nurses work. An LPN is licensed by the state, usually from a vocational or technical college and the program only takes about one year to complete. Prerequisites and requirements vary by state, but it`s a good idea to have received good grades in health and sciences courses during high school.

No matter which nursing field you wish to enter, a low GPA from high school can be remedied by taking general education courses that involve science and biology from a community college. Earning high marks in these courses will better your chances of being accepted into one of the many nursing programs available.

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