A practical guide to becoming a professional nurse | United States of America (2023)

A practical guide to becoming a professional nurse | United States of America (1)Becoming a nurse is a popular and exciting career choice. Nurses provide primary and emergency care to patients, diagnose and treat illnesses, and prescribe medications.In 23 states, NPs have full authority to exercise, which means they can practice independently without a doctor's supervision.

The path to becoming a registered nurse may look a little different for everyone, but in general, there are specific academic and licensure credentials that you must obtain. From undergraduate to graduate school, you can expect to be in school for at least seven years. After earning your graduate degree, you must also pass a national certification exam. This blog post outlines the responsibilities of a registered nurse, discusses how to become a registered nurse, and provides a brief overview of the current landscape and job opportunities.

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What is a nursing professional?

nurse(NP) are licensed physicians who provide comprehensive care to patients. The best nurses are caring, compassionate people who enjoy solving complex problems and helping others.

Nursing professionals focus on preventive and holistic care, as well as the treatment of acute and chronic conditions. The responsibilities of a clinical nurse specialist vary according to their area of ​​expertise. For example, a neonatal nurse works with neonatologists to treat newborns and infants, while a family psychiatric mental health nurse works with patients of all ages who need mental health treatment.Other nursing roles include psychiatric nurse, emergency nurse, family nurse, and midwife nurse, to name a few.

In general, the responsibilities of nursing professionals may include:

  • Provide primary and emergency care to patients.
  • Performing physical examinations and recording in the patient's medical record.
  • Ordering and carrying out diagnostic tests
  • Develop appropriate treatment plans for the patient.
  • Prescribing and administering medications and treatments.
  • Evaluate patient response to treatment plans and make adjustments as needed
  • Provide mental health counseling
  • Educate patients about healthy lifestyle choices and how to prevent injury and illness.

Nurse vs. Registered Nurse: What's the Difference?

Obtaining a registered nurse (RN) license is one step toward becoming a practical nurse (seehow to become a nurse). If you go to graduate school to become a registered nurse, you will have more responsibilities and autonomy than registered nurses. Nursing professionals must earn a master's or doctoral degree in nursing, while registered nurses only need an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Unlike a registered nurse, a registered nurse cannot diagnose patients or develop treatment plans. Typical responsibilities of a Registered Nurse include monitoring patients, maintaining patient records, ordering diagnostic tests, and assisting physicians with patient care.

(Video) How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN) | Ways to Become an RN

The work environment of the two professionals also tends to be different.Nursing professionals typically work more standard hoursin private practices or community clinics. Registered nurses, however, typically work multiple shifts, including night shifts, in hospitals or surgical clinics.

how to become a nurse

A practical guide to becoming a professional nurse | United States of America (2)To become a registered nurse, you'll need advanced nursing training, such as a family nurse or general nurse certification. That means earning a master's or doctoral degree in an NP program, as well as the necessary certifications and licenses for your field of expertise. To succeed in your nursing program, you will need to enhance yourstudy techniquesytime management skills. although graduatednursing school is challenging, many students feel that their effort is worth it for the satisfaction of knowing that they will make a difference in the lives of others. Below, we outline the steps to becoming a registered nurse.

1. Get a bachelor's degree in nursing

The first step to becoming a professional nurse is to earn a bachelor's degree. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is recommended, as some graduate programs such as thenurse program offered by St. Augustine University for Health Sciences, require a bachelor's degree in nursing, rather than a related field such as public health. The core curriculum of a BSN program includes courses in anatomy, pharmacology, mental health, pathophysiology, statistics, and more.

The BSN degree also requires students to complete hours of clinical training, typicallythree hours of clinical learning for every hour of classroom instruction. Depending on your background and personal situation, you can take several avenues to achieve this:

  • Direct input BSN:It is intended for students who hold a high school diploma and have not previously completed a baccalaureate program or nursing education. A full-time BSN program typically takes 4 years to complete.
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) for BSN:Designedfor students who are licensed nursing assistants, which requires approximately one year ofhigh schoolnursing education. The length of a full-time LPN to BSN program is typically 2-3 years, depending on the school and transferable credits.
  • RN a BSN:Designed for registered nurses who have completed an associate degree in the field.Full-time RN to BSN programs typically take 1-2 years to complete, depending on school and transferable credits.
  • Accelerated BSN (ABSN):A high school program for students who already hold a bachelor's degree in a different field. The duration of a full-timeThe ABSN program is typically 12-19 months., depending on school and transferable credits.

Get your RN license

To practice nursing and/or enter a graduate nursing program, you must first become licensed as an RN by applying to the appropriate nursing regulatory body and successfully completing the NCLEX-RN exam, in addition to meeting any other requirements do State. in what he intends to practice. To take the exam, you must have completed an associate's degree in nursing, a hospital diploma program, or your BSN.

Gain valuable work experience

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Before applying to graduate school, it's a good idea to practice a little in the field. Clinical practice can provide valuable information on whether you should become anorteregistered advanced practicenurseis the right path to take, and if so, what interests you most about the job. It can also help you decide in the future which degree level and major is best for you.

Some colleges require applicants to have clinical experience before entering the graduate nursing program or starting clinical experiences, so it is important to review each school's requirements before applying. Additionally, some nursing programs, including ours here at USAHS, have awhite coat ceremonyfor nursing graduates to commemorate the milestone.

2. Get a graduate degree

A practical guide to becoming a professional nurse | United States of America (3)The next step to becoming a registered nurse is to obtain aMaster in Nursing Sciences(MSN) oDoctor of Nursing Practice(DNP) with afamily nurse(FNP) specialty.

Along with the FNP major, MSN and DNP students can choose from other roles.specialties, depending on the offer of the university. Popular specialties includeeducator nurse,executive nurse,adult gerontologyPrimary Care Nurse (AGPCNP), Adult Gerontological Intensive Care Nurse (AGACNP), Pediatric Nurse (PNP) and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse (PMHNP).

  • Master's in Nursing:An MSN is an advanced nursing degree that opens doors to prestigious positions in the field. An MSN-FNP is a sufficient qualification to become a registered nurse. A full-time MSN program with an FNP role specialty usually takes 2-3 years to complete.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice: A DNP-FNP offers more courses on leadership and research for aspiring nurses who want to lead in these areas. A full-time program usually takes 3-4 years depending on the course and the FNP course usually takes around 4 years.

3. Become a Certified Registered Nurse (CNP)

Be sure to check information about licensing and regulatory requirements in your state. HeADJUSTit's a good resource.

To become licensed to practice as a nurse, you will need to take a national certification exam. You can take this exam through any of five national certification boards, including theAmerican Academy of Nursing Professionals(AANP), laNational Certification Corporation(NCC), or theAmerican Center for Nurse Accreditation(ANC). Every organization's exam is different, so you should research each other's approach and format, and consider your personal career goals and testing preferences when deciding which exam to take.

Job Opportunities and Perspectives for Nurses

US news and world reportranks the nursing profession in 4th place in itsList of the best health jobs of 2020, highlighting the job growth projected for this career.

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According toUS Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for professional nurses was $107,030 in 2018. Employment of professional nurses is expected to grow 28.2% from 2018 to 2028, with approximately 53,300 jobs added during that period. The BLS ranks this as the 9th fastest growing profession.

Nursing professionals work in a variety of settings, with physicians' offices being the most common. They also work in general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient clinics, clinics and offices of other health services.health care practitioners

Additional tips and resources for nursing professionals

There are a number of activities you can participate in that will contribute to your professional development. Visit the additional resources below to learn more about the path to becoming a registered nurse.

Ways to grow professionally

  • Volunteer to treat patients in underserved communities. This is a great way to increase your skills, learn from professionals of all disciplines and make a real difference.
  • Attend events and conferences to expand your knowledge and network with your peers.
  • find a mentorwith whom you can learn and who inspires you to grow as a professional.

Required information

useful resources

The following organizations can help you learn more about becoming a registered nurse:

The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) offers Master of Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Graduate Certificates in Nursing aimed at working nurses. Our degrees are offered online, with optional face-to-face immersions* and an annual interprofessional trip abroad. Role specialties include Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Educator Nurse** and Executive Nurse. MSN has several options to speed up your title completion time. Complete courses whenever and wherever you want and earn your advanced practice nursing degree while maintaining work-life balance.

*The FNP RPG specialty includes two mandatory hands-on intensives as part of the curriculum.

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**The Nurse Educator role specialty is not available for the DNP program.


American Association of Nursing Professionals. “What is a professional nurse (NP)?” Accessed on January 20, 2021.https://www.aanp.org/about/all-about-nps/whats-a-nurse-practitioner. Accessed: January 26, 2022

Nurse's Diary. "How to Become a Professional Nurse". Last revised on November 30, 2021.https://nursejournal.org/nurse-practitioner/how-to-become-a-np/. Accessed: January 26, 2022

Nurse's Diary. "Overview of the Nursing Career". Last revised on November 30, 2021.https://nursejournal.org/nurse-practitioner/. Accessed: January 26, 2022

nurse.org. "How to become a professional nurse (NP)". September 20, 2021.https://nurse.org/resources/nurse-practitioner/. Accessed: January 26, 2022


Which state is easiest to get RN license? ›

Easiest states to become a nurse – Length of licensing process
  • Maine: 1-2 weeks.
  • Maryland: 2-3 days.
  • Missouri: 2 weeks.
  • Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
  • Texas: 2 weeks.
  • Vermont: 3-5 business days.

What state is the hardest to get a nursing license? ›

  • MAINE. ...
  • ALASKA. ...
  • Georgia. ...
  • Alabama. ...
  • Hawaii. ...
  • South Carolina. ...
  • Kentucky. ...
  • Summary. There are a few cases when temporary licenses can be obtained through the state board of nursing.

What should I do to become a professional nurse? ›

Steps to Become a Registered Nurse
  1. Earn your Degree. In order to become a registered nurse, you will need to earn a degree from an accredited institution. ...
  2. Pass the NCLEX Exam. ...
  3. Obtain State Licensure. ...
  4. Seek Advanced Training (optional)
Feb 3, 2021

How do I qualify for eb3 visa for nurses? ›

To be eligible for an EB-3 visa as a nurse, you must have two years of education from an accredited institution and have a license to work in the country where you received your education. Additionally, you need to obtain a full and unrestricted license to practice nursing in the state where you will be working.

What state pays the highest for RN? ›

In the United States overall, the average registered nurse salary is $82,750 and the median (50th percentile) is $77,600. California, with RN salaries averaging $124,000, is the highest-paying state for nurses as of May 2021 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).


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