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How to Become a Nurse

What are the steps to becoming a nurse?

  1. Research opportunities to volunteer in a local medical center to observe first-hand what a nurse does in order to decide if the career is a good fit for you.
  2. Complete your high school education, or pass the GED.
  3. Research the different levels of nursing licensure and decide what your first nursing goal is: a. LPN/LVN b. RN c. RN with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing d. Master of Science in Nursing and Advanced Practice Nurse
  4. Research traditional and accelerated nursing programs available through your local junior college, university, hospital-based learning program, or through an online program and decide which route to a nursing degree is best for you. Investigate whether or not there are pre-requisite courses, or if passing a pre-entrance examination is necessary.
  5. Complete the curriculum and associated practical experiences.
  6. Pass the national examination.
  7. Apply for a license through your State's Nursing Board.
  8. Get ready to start your career as a nurse and make a big difference in people's lives!

Why consider a career in nursing?

Nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession. Nurses often provide far more direct care than doctors do, and in many situations the nurse functions as the doctor's eyes, ears and hands. A nurse is the allied health professional who gives hospitalized patients their medications, and is often the first to spot a complication. A nurse is the professional that manages the care to patients in their homes, and a nurse is the professional that an expectant mother sees more than anyone else. A nurse's job can be as simple as being the first aid staff in a large factory or public school, or as complex as being the extra hands of a vascular surgeon. The opportunity, the variety, and the chance to make a big impact are limitless when pursuing a career in nursing.

The course of study is challenging as it is designed to create exceptional providers. Currently the country is facing something of a crisis in the lack of available nurses, and nursing programs are dedicated to supporting their students and turning them into well-qualified health care practitioners. As the demand for providers increases, programs are looking to expand their admissions and

How do I explore my options for specialized forms of nursing?

Once the interest in nursing has been explored, take some time and learn about various types of nursing and the different places a nurse works, and then decide what types of patients, diagnoses and work settings are most appealing to you.

Consider how much independence you want, and how long you want to take getting your education completed. If you want to work very independently and are ready to invest a few years in your education, then a master's level credential may be right for you. However, if you want to enter the workforce quickly, and don't mind working under the supervision of another nurse, perhaps starting as an LPN is the best choice. These decisions are personal, but looking at the relationship between how much training and education are needed to do the various things a nurse does can help you decide how to set your primary career goals.


Finally, investigate nursing schools in your area as well as schools offering online programs. If you are converting your existing nursing degree into a more advanced one, or already have a bachelor's degree in another area, there are online opportunities and accelerated programs that may work best for you.

Nursing Schools