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Prerequisites for Registered Nursing

Nursing Student Checking Nursing Prerequesites

Although a nurse can work in many health care settings as a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), most nurses prefer getting a Registered Nursing License. This more advanced license opens much more career options, and gives them higher salary. Even nurses that start out as practical nurses will often pursue a registered nurse license later in their career.

Before taking the registered nursing licensure exam (NCLEX-RN), there are a few prerequisites you have to pass. Following is a list of prerequisites for registered nursing:

  1. High School Completion:
    You cannot become a registered nurse without first completing you high school education. If you know already during your high school years that you are interested in a nursing career, you can start preparing yourself by taking relevant courses: You should be studying Math, English, Science (especially Biology) and Social Studies. Most nursing schools have rather high standards for the applicants, so try to get good grades in these subjects. First aid training can also be plus.
  2. A Nursing Academic Degree:
    In contrast with a practical nurse, which will usually not have a higher academic education, a registered nurse is required to have an academic degree in nursing. A registered nurse has to pass through a nursing program in an accredited nursing school. There are a few options to what degree is necessary. Following are the available options:

    • Associate Nursing Degree (abbreviated ASN or ADN): An associate degree in nursing will normally take 2 years to complete. This course will cover the basic nursing studies, and after completing it you can take the registered nurse exam. Many nurses choose to start their career with this degree, and later in life they will often complete their nursing education with a RN-to-BSN bridge program.
    • Bachelor in Nursing (BSN): This is the recommended degree for registered nurse, and most hospitals would prefer their registered nurses to have this degree. As mentioned before many nurses who start out with an ASN will complete their academic degree later during their career, as this degree will allow them to have more advanced roles in their jobs, and of course also higher salary. A student in a BSN degree will have, besides the basic nursing training, also courses in nursing leadership and management.
    • A Nursing Diploma: This degree, given usually by hospital-based nursing schools, is less common than the other two. It is basically equivalent to the ASN degree.
    • People who have completed a bachelor degree in a different field are often able to find accelerated nursing programs which will help them complete a nursing degree without starting from scratch. These accelerated programs will usually take about 2 years of very intense studies.
  3. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam:
    The final step in becoming a registered nurse is to pass the licensure exam. Once you pass this exam, given by the national council for licensure, you are can work as a registered nurse.

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