If you’re interested in nursing as a career, now is the time to become an RN. The demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) is strong and growing.
To be a Registered Nurse in the United States, you must pass the relevant National Council Licensure EXamination (NCLEX). This means that you would have to first undertake and pass a suitable education and training program, either an associate degree or bachelors degree, in preparation for the the exam.
But what is the difference between getting registered and getting a bachelors degree (RN vs BSN)? What can you expect to earn as an RN? This page tells you about the pathways to nursing registration, helps you to find suitable programs to prepare you for the NCLEX nursing licensing exam, and more …
Studying to become an RN (Registered Nurse) in the USA
The NCLEX-RN is taken by both Associate Degree (ADN) and Bachelors Degree (BSN) prepared nurses and the pass rates are about the same for both ADN and BSN prepared nurses. Make sure that your chosen program prepares you for the NCLEX Nurse Registration exam.
There are basically three types of program you can take depending on your qualifications and the time you want to spend:
- If you don’t yet have a degree, then the two-year online Associate Degree in Nusing (ADN) is one program you could take. The Associate Degree has been the main route to becoming a registered nurse for many years.
- If you don’t yet have a degree, the other program you could take is the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The popularity of the BSN as a route to registration is growing quickly, both with nurses and with employers.
- If you already have a non-nursing degree, the paths to becoming an RN are called “second degree accelerated” BSN programs, and “direct entry” MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) programs.
Preparing for the NCLEX-RN Exam
The NCLEX-RN exam is a computer based test designed to measure if you have the knowledge and problem solving skills needed to provide adequate health care to patients and is needed in order to work in any health care facility. The length of time it takes you to complete the test will depend on if you get the correct answers. Each time you do, the computer software gives you a question at a higher skill level, whilst a wrong answer will mean going down to a lower level. The software will keep providing new questions until it is clear that you have or do not have the competency at the level required.
The subjects covered include care and comfort; safety; infection control; health promotion and maintenance; psychosocial integrity; pharmacological therapies; and reduction of risk potential.
StudyGuideZone.com provides further information, together with a free, downloadable Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN exam.
Summary of how to qualify as an RN
If you don’t yet have a degree:
If you already have a non-nursing degree:
- Take the “second degree accelerated” BSN or take the “direct entry” MSN
- Take the examination for registration (NCLEX-RN in the USA).
What can you expect to earn as an RN?
Your salary will obviously depend on your experience, qualifications and which role you pursue. But in the US, the median salary range for an RN with 1 to 4 years experience is $40,000 – $59.000 (source: PayScale).
List of schools and programs
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- Nursing (RN) - Associate's
- Practical Nursing - Diploma
- Medical Assisting - Associate's
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