If you have been thinking about a career in nursing, you are not alone! The field of nursing is expected to grow 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than average for all occupations*. In fact, the American Nurses Association states that by 2022, there will be far more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession.**
As you explore more into the field of nursing, you may have many questions about what it takes to become a registered nurse. What is the time commitment? How do I choose the right nursing school? What are the different job opportunities?
Whether you are going to college straight after high school, or you are looking to make a career change, pursuing a career in nursing is a big decision and requires dedication and passion.
Check out these steps on how to become a registered nurse.
Step 1: Select which type of nursing degree is right for you
To become a registered nurse, you must have a college degree in nursing. You can choose between an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically shorter and would be ideal for someone who is looking to get into the workforce quickly. At Beckfield College, our ADN program can be completed in as little as 24 months. With your ADN, you’ll have the credentials necessary to qualify for most nursing jobs that involve providing critical patient care and assisting physicians.
However, many states and institutions are now considering requiring registered nurses who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing to return to school to obtain the degree. Most Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) programs are 4-year programs, but at Beckfield College, we offer a 3-year BSN track for students enrolled full-time. A BSN is designed for RNs who want to pursue supervisory roles and qualify for higher-paying jobs.
If you feel the ADN program is right for you, right now, don’t worry! Many employers will encourage and support their nurses to get their RN to BSN degrees. At Beckfield, we offer an online RN to BSN track that can be completed in as little as 18 months. Both ADN and BSN programs will lead you on the right path to becoming a registered nurse. Which program is right for you depends on your career goals and how much time you are willing to commit?
Step 2: Find the right nursing school for you
There are a lot of options when it comes to selecting the right college and more specifically, the right nursing program. There are several things to consider when selecting and applying for nursing school:
Accreditation – it’s important that you research and find programs that are accredited. The importance of accreditation is to ensure that the nursing education programs are being held to common standards of quality. For example, the ADN program at Beckfield is approved by the Kentucky Board of Nursing and is accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA). The 3-year BSN is also approved by the Kentucky Board of Nursing and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Enrollment Requirements – Most nursing schools will require an essay, background check, in addition to passing an entrance exam. At Beckfield College, all nursing applicants must take a qualifying admission exam. Our Admissions Team is very hands-on and can help guide you on where you can access study guides to help you be successful! For more complete information on admissions requirements for Beckfield’s ADN and BSN programs, click here.
Length of Program – how much time are you able to commit to your nursing education? How quickly do you want to get into the workforce and start working towards your career, helping others, and providing for your family? Also, how quickly do the programs offer nursing classes? At Beckfield, you will be enrolled in the nursing program right away! These are all things to consider when choosing a nursing program that meets your needs and goals.
Class Size – be sure to consider what type of learning environment you will thrive in. Do you see yourself in large lecture halls, or do you prefer small classes with more personal attention from your instructors and more hands-on learning? At Beckfield, we offer small class sizes, and the instructors get to know their students.
Clinical Experience – nursing education is not just about the material you learn inside the classroom, but also about getting real-world, hands-on experience. Nursing clinicals take place in a real healthcare setting where students get firsthand experience of what it is like to work as a registered nurse. This is also a great way to network with healthcare employers for when you graduate and are looking for employment.
Step 3: Becoming a Licensed Registered Nurse and Employment
After you graduate from nursing school and have your degree, you must sit and pass the NCLEX-RN exam and meet all your state’s licensure requirements. The NCLEX-RN is a national exam required to become a registered nurse to determine if it’s safe for you to begin practice as an entry-level nurse.
After you pass the exam and meet your state’s requirements, you will officially be a licensed registered nurse! With more than 500,000 seasoned RNs anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs for expansion and replacement of retirees, and to avoid a nursing shortage.** Many nurses have said that one thing that surprised them about becoming a nurse is the different kinds of job opportunities. A nursing degree can lead to employment in hospitals, doctor’s offices, to being a traveling nurse, or even working in education. With additional schooling, nurses can also become specialized in various areas of healthcare. Check out the growing list of employers where Beckfield graduates have gone on to work after graduating.
* Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons. Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
** American Nurses Association: https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/
The Diploma in Practical Nursing program, the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program, and the 3-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program are approved by the Kentucky Board of Nursing. Beckfield College is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and is a member of the National League for Nursing. The Beckfield College Practical Nursing and Associate of Applied Science, Nursing programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA) 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20032, 202-909-2526. The Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing (RN to BSN) Online track and the 3-year Prelicensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Beckfield College are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org/).