May 22, 2023

Becoming an RN: 10 Questions and 5 Steps

By B&SC Blog Team

Becoming an RN: 10 Questions and 5 Steps

Healthcare careers give you a chance to devote your time to helping those who are ill, injured, or working to improve their health and well-being. As a registered nurse (RN), you can build a career that involves having a vital role in the healthcare field, whether you end up working in a hospital, a local doctor’s office, or another medical setting.

Deciding whether to become an RN means learning more about this career option, including what the job duties are, what kind of education is required, and what kind of licensing you need. The following can help you better understand this profession.

10 Questions About RNs

When you’re considering a career as an RN, you might have some questions about this kind of work. From what it’s like to work as an RN to getting your license, asking the right questions can provide you with the information you need to be successful in this critical area of healthcare.

1.What Does Being an RN Mean?

RNs are those who directly care for patients in hospitals, outpatient clinics, physicians’ offices, or other healthcare facilities. Working as an RN means you’ll be able to play an important role in the quality and kind of care patients receive, whether they’re having an annual wellness exam or being treated for an injury or illness.

2.What Is an RN?

An RN is responsible for providing care to patients in healthcare settings. These nurses also coordinate patient care and provide patients with education on health issues or general health and well-being. RNs educate the public about medical conditions and offer guidance and support to patients’ family members as needed. RNs often work with doctors and other healthcare providers as part of a team. And some work with specific types of patients, such as cancer patients, cardiovascular patients, newborn babies, or patients who are in rehab due to an illness or injury.

3.What Does an RN Do?

RNs have a wide range of responsibilities that involve patient care. Unlike a licensed practical nurse (LPN), RNs can create treatment plans for patients and evaluate patients’ conditions. RNs have a higher level of responsibility compared with LPNs, who work under the supervision of RNs or doctors. The other duties RNs might have include administering medicine, performing diagnostic tests, educating patients, consulting with doctors and other healthcare providers, operating medical equipment, and recording medical histories. Additional job duties and responsibilities can vary, depending on the kind of patients RNs work with, such as geriatric patients, pediatric patients, or patients with specific health conditions.

4.What Degree Do You Need to Be an RN?

To become an RN, you’ll typically need either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). You can also become an RN with a diploma you earn from an approved nursing program. Having a degree is generally considered a better path to pursue, since employers usually prefer to hire RNs with a degree rather than a diploma. Whether you earn an ADN or a BSN depends on factors such as your career goals and the amount of time you want to spend on your education. These degree programs often include courses in anatomy and physiology as well as in areas such as behavioral science and psychology.

5.How Long Does It Take to Become an RN?

The time it takes to become an RN varies, depending on the kind of degree you choose to earn. If you decide to pursue an ADN, this usually takes about two years to complete. You might be able to find accelerated degree programs that make it possible to earn your degree in a shorter amount of time. If you choose to earn a BSN, this usually takes about four years to complete. And diploma programs often take two or three years to complete. After you earn your degree, your next step is to become licensed in your state. Keep in mind that it can take several weeks to receive the results of your licensing exam.

6.What Is an RN to BSN Program?

When you are already a licensed RN, an RN to BSN program provides a shorter path to earning your bachelor’s degree. Licensed RNs with an associate degree or diploma might choose this path to advance their career and learn new skills in a shorter time frame, often in one or two years. These programs typically include courses in nursing, such as healthcare informatics or nutrition, as well as general education courses.

7.How Do I Get an RN License?

All states require RNs to be licensed in order to work. The exact requirements for licensing vary by state, so check your state’s current licensure requirements for specific information. After completing an accredited nursing program, you can apply for your license with the nursing board or licensing agency in your state. This usually involves submitting an application, along with your transcripts and fees. You’ll then need to register for and pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse to receive your license.

8.What Is the NCLEX-RN?

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a standardized, multiple-choice test that you’ll need to pass in order to obtain your nursing license. When you want to become a licensed RN, you’ll take the NCLEX-RN. This test includes as many as 265 questions given over a six-hour period. You’ll need to answer at least 75 questions correctly to pass. To register for the NCLEX-RN, you’ll need to have an Authorization to Test, which is usually a 90-day window in many states. You can take the NCLEX-RN within this window.

9.Where Do RNs Work?

RNs can work in many types of healthcare facilities and other settings. Some RNs work in hospitals, while others work in outpatient clinics or private medical practices. Those who work in hospitals might provide care in specific departments, such as the neonatal unit. RNs can also work in home healthcare, which involves going to patients’ homes to provide care. RNs who specialize in public health often work in local schools, community centers, or similar settings to provide education or perform other tasks. Travel RNs spend their time traveling to various places throughout the U.S. to provide care as needed. These nurses often go where there is a shortage of healthcare workers.

10.Is Being an RN a Good Career?

Being an RN can be an incredibly satisfying career. As an RN, you’ll be able to use your skills to help patients who are ill or injured. You’ll also be able to provide guidance that helps patients improve their health and well-being. In terms of job outlook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that RNs have projected job growth of 9 percent from 2020 through 2030.* This is roughly the same as the average job outlook for all occupations throughout the U.S. The demand for RNs is expected to remain steady, as the need for healthcare services is continual.

*Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.

How to Become an RN

What are the steps involved in becoming an RN? Evaluating these steps can help you learn what to expect if you choose this career path.

1.Earn Your Degree

Your RN career starts with your education. Should you earn an ADN or a BSN? When comparing the two, you should consider a few factors. The amount of time it takes to earn these degrees differs. You’ll likely spend more time earning a BSN compared with an ADN, but keep in mind that an RN to BSN program allows you to earn your bachelor’s degree after starting your nursing career. Having a BSN can lead to a wider range of career options as an RN, since you’ll learn more complex nursing skills. Thinking about the kind of RN career you want can help you decide between these degree programs.

2.Pass the NCLEX-RN

You’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN to receive your nursing license. This involves getting at least 75 questions right on the test. When you receive your results about six weeks later, you’ll have your license if you passed. If you didn’t pass the test, you’ll be able to take it again after 45 days. Take advantage of review sessions that are designed for the NCLEX-RN. You can also use NCLEX-specific study guides, form study groups, and take other steps to prepare for the exam. Taking practice tests can help you understand what kinds of questions you’re likely to see on this test.

3.Check State Licensing Requirements

No matter which state you live in, you’ll need to have a license to work as an RN. Passing the NCLEX-RN and having a degree from an approved nursing program are the basic requirements for licensing. Every state has its own set of requirements for RN licensing, so you’ll need to check with your state board for current licensing requirements. For example, some states might require you to pass a criminal background check in addition to passing the NCLEX-RN and earning your degree.

4.Find a Job

Once you’re a licensed RN, you can look for a job in your area or in another area if desired. Online job boards and job sites provide listings for open RN positions. You can also check the websites of healthcare facilities to see whether they have any available positions. If you’ve networked during school, you can turn to individuals in your network to ask about job opportunities. Other options to explore include job fairs, nurse hiring events, and career expos. You might also hear about job opportunities from friends and family. Keep in mind that having an ADN or BSN can give you a competitive advantage over other applicants.

5.Advance Your Career

When you’re a licensed RN, you can explore opportunities to advance your career. Depending on the kind of career you want, you might need to go back to school to earn a Master of Science in Nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice, or a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. With an advanced degree, you could move up to higher positions within the healthcare field, such as nursing supervisor, nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and chief nursing officer. These careers can be more challenging, but they also provide you with a greater amount of responsibility. If you want to further develop your existing skills, learn new skills, and take on a leadership role, you might consider advancing your RN career at some point.

Start Your RN Journey Today

If you’re ready to begin building a career as an RN, contact Bryant & Stratton to request more information. We offer a two-year ADN program at our campuses in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia, as well as a 64-credit Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing at our Henrietta, New York campus. If you’re looking to earn a bachelor’s degree, we offer an RN to BSN program at all our campuses except in New York. To earn a bachelor’s degree in New York, we offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at our Liverpool, New York, campus. Our degree programs give you the education needed for a rewarding career as an RN.

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