Becoming a nurse isn’t a piece of cake like many think it is. Not only is the process of becoming a registered one quite lengthy, but the obstacles in the way make it that much more complicated. If your choice of approach is studying in a traditional nursing school, then the path ahead is quite lengthy. However, we all know that the digital world has dramatically impacted the academic aspect of life.
Hence, with innumerable amounts of online courses that allow you to become a registered nurse, how do you choose the best one for you? What about the material you need to study? What are the skills you need to acquire?
This article provides you with the ultimate guide to becoming a nurse. It’ll allow you to ease your way into it and find what you’re looking for.
Why Choose a Career in Nursing?
Did you know that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, known as BLS, states that the expected growth of nursing will increase by 9% by 2030? Not only is that faster than most professions, but it illustrates the overwhelming need for more nurses.
While the current nurses are getting older, more qualified candidates are needed. This brings up the eternal question: why choose a career in nursing school? Well, it depends on you as an individual. Nursing school isn’t made for everyone, as many illustrate how rigorous and time-consuming it could be.
Moreover, the sheer amount of material you’re expected to learn is quite hectic. However, that should not deter you from pursuing the profession if you’re absolutely positive it’s your thing.
According to the AAMC, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the graduation rate for medical students is approximately 84%. Which brings up another question: is nursing school harder than med school? Well, from various student experiences and stories, you might already know the answer.
The short answer is no. Nursing school isn’t more complicated than med school. Many who opted to follow both paths state that the knowledge in nursing school is what’s taught in the first 2 years of med school. But why are there more nurse dropouts than soon-to-be doctors? That’s mainly because becoming a nurse is easier.
Here are some of the many reasons to choose to nurse:
- It’s easily accessible. There are numerous programs and courses, online and offline, that you can take to qualify as a registered nurse.
- The track to becoming a paid nurse is shorter than you might think.
- The job satisfaction rates in the US are surprisingly high. A surveyshowed that 81% of nurses stated they were satisfied or delighted with their jobs.
- The need for nurses is always going to be consistent. The help they provide within the medical industry is indispensable.
What Skills are Important in Nursing?
While a career in nursing is gratifying, the intensity of it all isn’t relatively easy to handle. Hence, there are specific nurse skills and qualities that each one has to acquire throughout the study and professional life.
Not only do you have to interact with patients all the time, but you must always be able to administer emergency aid when needed. This often puts you in a tight spot, but it’s something one has to get used to.
This is one of the many people nursing school is found to be complicated. We have compiled a piece on why nursing school is so hard, which you should check out for reference.
Below is an extensive list of skills each nurse is expected to acquire. They’re divided into sections as stated below.
- Effective Communication: whether it’s a family member, the patient himself, or staff members, you must be able to communicate efficiently with them. Moreover, you often have to work fast, which is why numerous acronyms exist.
- Attentiveness to Detail:as the situations you might be handling are life or death situations, you must act fast once you’ve caught on to what’s happening. Symptoms, allergies, complaints, and much more are part of the process.
- Retention of Information:as a nurse, you’ll constantly be learning, even on the job. There are numerous cases that you’ll encounter, all quite diverse. Hence, you must have the desire to continuously learn, as it doesn’t stop at nursing school.
- Taking Care of Patients: it goes without saying that your sole goal is to provide the ultimate care for your patients. This includes the ability to conduct assessments, strategies for treatment plans, and the ability to communicate with them.
- CPR:Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is used for emergency situations. This is one of the most vital skills you’ll have to acquire to be a successful nurse.
- ACLS: Life Support & Advanced Cardiac Life Support isn’t a skill all nurses have. However, when acquired, it enables you to be well-prepared to save people’s lives in a situation where they have a cardiac arrest.
- Case Management: each case will be pretty unique. Not only will you be working with diverse patients daily, but the flow of new patients will always create a flow of different cases.
Technical skills are composed of knowledge about the more critical aspect of education. This involves having extensive expertise in various areas. That includes Telemetry, Cardiology, Psychology, Neurology, Wound Care, and Phlebotomy.
How to Start Preparing for Nursing School?
First, acknowledge that you don’t need prior healthcare knowledge or experience to qualify for a nursing school. However, most schools will require you to sit for an entrance exam. There are many of them, including the National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam (PAX), Nursing Entrance Exam (NET), and Test of Essential Academic Skills Exam (TEAS). Keep in mind that there are numerous other exams.
That means that there are numerous subjects you must study for the entrance test, others during your school years, and some skills to gain afterward. However, the list below is a brief summary of how to prepare for the nursing entrance exam:
Decide on the Adequate Nursing Program
Deciding on which path to take for nursing school is the most challenging thing at the beginning. It’s difficult to find what you want to do for the rest of your life, let alone decide on one particular field. Hence, take your time researching the different ones offered.
Another thing to remember is that not all schools offer all degrees. That means, as you’re doing your research, make a list of which universities and schools provide the program you’re looking for.
Choose Your Degree
After you settle on your program, which is what you’ll be studying, you decide on your desired degree. This often happens during your research when trying to find the best school that offers the specific degree you’re looking for.
Check the Prerequisites
Depending on the type of program you’re enrolling into, you’ll face different requirements. Hence, once you settle on the degree and location, ensure you fulfill their needs. But how do you study before nursing school? Check out this resource to prepare yourself before enrolling.
The TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) exam is one of the standardized tests for admission into nurse school. However, other healthcare students are also asked to sit for this examination. It tests some basic skills, including science, English, mathematics, and reading. Hence, it’s a basic test for many, but it’s essential for many nursing schools.
Scoring well on the examination will raise your chances of getting accepted into the school. Yet another entrance examination is known as HESI, which stands for Health Education Systems, Inc.) If you want to understand the difference between HESI and TEAS and find out which one is harder, we have compiled an article on the topic.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
What you’re about to dive into isn’t a piece of cake. First of all, is nursing school hard to get into? Well, the short answer is yes. It’s incredibly competitive, and the top programs require a high GPA, good entrance exam score, and some strict prerequisites. Our ultimate guide on preparing for nursing school will help you through the process.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Whether enrolling in a 2-year program or a 4-year one, you’ll face numerous challenges. We have compiled a list of 12 tips for succeeding in nursing school. This will teach you the fundamentals of surviving and excelling.
Is Nursing School Hard to Pass?
Do you want to learn how to succeed in nursing school? Passing isn’t the most challenging thing to do here, but surviving it is. While it isn’t tough that you won’t be able to do it, it’s severe enough to be challenging.
For that reason, there are various pieces of information you should know to be able to pass. That includes things to expect, knowing what nursing school is like, and objectives to fulfill.
What to Expect
- Occasional All-Nighters: every challenging major includes some sleepless nights. Some nights are more difficult to get through, whether you’re up working or stressing.
- Burnout:a study suggests that students in the UK start stressing out and coping through unhealthy habits once the nursing program progresses.
- Investments:you’re technically investing in yourself. However, the cost of some programs is outstandingly high. You’ll also often have to buy some uniforms and scrubs for your internships.
- Connections:an optimistic outcome would be the connections you make throughout your academic career. Whether it’s friends, colleagues, or respected professors, you’ll have people to connect with.
To find out what nursing school is like, refer to this resource we created.
What to Focus On
- Diligence and Enthusiasm
- Approach Problems with Ease
- Bear with the Professors
- Moderation (Don’t Overstudy)
To find out whether a nursing school is hard to pass, read through the following article.
How to Pass
Passing nursing school requires a lot of dedication. There are numerous items to accomplish to get to the finish line. For the complete list, refer to the ultimate guide on how to pass nursing school. For a shorter version:
- Take Notes Consistently
- Make Sure Your Mental Health is Stable
- Find Out What the Best Resources Are
- Study Alone First, and Revise with Others
- Always Start Preparing for Exams Early
What are the Different Types of Nursing Certifications?
There are various nursing certifications because individuals choose to specialize in different fields. Hence, there is an ample amount of options you can resort to. These certifications also ensure you obtain enough knowledge, experience situations and conditions and develop the necessary skills to become a nurse.
The list of certifications seems to run long. However, they are all obtained from specific organizations. Some are mentioned below, from which you can receive your nursing certification:
- National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)
- Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI)
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC)
The list runs on, as there are over 10 institutes that offer certifications.
It all depends on the path you want to take and what you want to be in the future. However, each degree might offer different resources, opportunities, occupation chances, and time. A brief list of the nursing degrees and certifications is found below, along with the time needed to complete it:
- CAN (Certified Nursing Assistant) Certificate/Diploma: 4-12 weeks
- RN (Registered Nurse) through an Associate’s Degree in Nursing: 2-3 years
- RN (Registered Nurse) through a Bachelor’s Degree of Science: 4 years
- LPN/LVN (Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse) Certificate/Diploma:12 months
Remember that there are various paths you can take once you obtain any of these above certificates. However, a vital piece of information to learn is how to study for nursing exams. Here is the best resource to guide you through it.
What are the Requirements to Become a Nurse?
If you want to learn how to become a nurse, then you must fulfill some basic requirements before applying and before graduating from your program. However, remember that the prerequisites you need to satisfy depend entirely on your path. That includes the specialization you want to pursue and the degree you’re studying for.
However, the general path is as follows:
- Fulfill Requirements for the Degree
- Obtain a Degree
- Get Your License
- Find Employment
- Choose a Speciality
- Keep Learning Through Additional Training
Hence, one of the first issues you might have to tackle is the HESI exam. Many colleges and schools use this as an admission tool to evaluate their candidates’ readiness. It generally predicts the possible success rate of the students and if they’re capable of pursuing the program. Many students find the exam to be challenging. However, here is a resource to find out if the HESI exam is challenging or not.
Now, after deciding you want to be a nurse, you choose which degree to obtain. Below are the three most common paths taken, including becoming a CNA, LPN, or an RN.
How to Become a CNA?
The path to becoming a CAN, Certified Nursing Assistant, is considered to be much easier and shorter compared to other career paths. That’s because it typically takes less than a year to complete the requirements and start working. The steps you need to follow are pretty simple, including:
- Obtaining a High School Diploma or GED
- Successfully Pass a State-Approved CNA Program
- Sit Through In-Person Clinical Rotations
- Pass the State-Approved CNA Certification Exam
Learn about whether becoming a CNA is worth it or not by checking out the following article.
Now, becoming a CNA requires dedication, but for a short amount of time. It takes a few weeks to a couple of months to pass the program, then a few more to complete the clinical hours and pass the examinations. Check out whether it is hard to become a CNA to learn more.
After obtaining your credentials as a CAN, you’ll often specialize within a field. The highest paid ones are nurses that pursue ICU, Operating Room, and Emergency Room Specializations. For a more extensive list of which CNA jobs pay the most, refer to this article.
How to Become an LPN?
An LPN is a Licensed Practical Nurse. Expect to complete a college’s accredited practical nursing certificate program within a year. Becoming one isn’t tough to do, as the requirements as minimal. They include:
- Earning a High School Diploma or GED
- Enrolling into an LPN/LVN Training Program (LVN stands for Licensed Vocational Nurse)
- Apply to be Authorized to Test (you do so by contacting your local board of nursing and the NCSBN)
- Schedule the NCLEX-PN Exam
- Obtain Results, Then Start Work
The NCLEX examination is necessary to obtain both the RN (Registered Nurse) and the PN (Practical Nurse) credentials. Under PN would be both the LPN and LVN. According to the 2022 April-June statistics, 82.19% of NCLEX-RN candidates passed, and 63.65% of NCLEX-PN test takers did on their first attempt.
So, is the NCLEX hard to pass? Find out exactly how difficult the examinations can be from the following link.
How to Become an RN?
Most programs that qualify you to become a registered nurse take approximately 2 years to complete. Some tasks you should expect to fulfill in the field include updating files, performing care of wounds, collecting samples, and educating patients on treatment.
Here is a short list of how to become a licensed RN:
- Earn the Degree (some states only require an associate’s degree. However, more recently, states have been demanding a bachelor’s degree in nursing)
- Pass the NCLEX Exam
- Get the State License (according to where you live)
- Seek Training (optional but recommended)
Now, many candidates ask about the difference between HESI and NCLEX and which one is harder. However, there isn’t a specific answer to this question. Not only are they different, as the HESI is an entrance exam and the NCLEX is one to qualify for the certification, but they include diverse questions.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse?
Do you know how long to become a nurse? Well, if you’re pondering about the answer, it’s not quite simple. There isn’t a set amount of time in which you can become a nurse. It all depends on the path you choose to take. That includes the degree, the training, the certification, and your own personal timeline.
So, the education and qualification you’re striving for will determine your path and the time is taken. For example, if you’re studying for a bachelor’s degree, expect to spend 4 years at the school. On the other hand, an associate’s degree only takes around 2 years to complete.
Almost all nursing graduates and even foreign nurses from diverse countries are expected to submit a registration form to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Below is a list of primary paths you can take to becoming a nurse, along with how long to expect:
- Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years
- Diploma: 2-3 years
- Accelerated Program: 1-2 years
- Associate Degree: 2-3 years
How Much Do Nurses Make?
Since we’ve answered all the vital questions, let’s question how much nurses make. Now, as you might already predict, it largely depends on the institution you’ll be working at and which certification you’ve obtained.
However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses’ median salary in 2021 was $77,600. However, here is a list according to the field:
- Registered Nurse (RN): $77,600
- Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN): $48,070
- Nursing Assistant (CNA): $ 30,310
- Surgical Assistant Registered Nurse: $102,500
- Emergency Room Registered Nurse: $75,100
All the salaries above are merely average pay according to the field.
Wrapping Things Up: Key Takeaways from Becoming a Nurse Guide
The bottom line is that pursuing a career in nursing isn’t going to be simple. However, it’s a much shorter track than the one medical students take. Moreover, being a nurse is not only fulfilling, but it is rewarding. No matter your position, you’ll earn a good amount of money.
Now the path you should choose largely depends on your personality. Do you enjoy communicating with people? Or would you prefer to work more on the technical side? The ultimate guide above is what will provide you with all the information you need, so keep it as a reference for whenever you might need it.