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How can I become a RN?

I am currently a junior in high school. I am very interested in nursing, and becoming an RN. I am having trouble understanding the steps , like what do I do first after I graduate high school ? Do I go straight to nursing school ? Do I go to college/university first and if so what classes should I take ? I want to obtain a BSN but is it before or after nursing school ? I hope you understand what I'm trying to ask and I'm sorry for all these stupid questions, I don't have anyone at home who can help me. I did sign up for Medical Terminology, will it be useful to know for nursing school ? #medical-school #nursing #rn #college #nurse #pharmacy #medicine

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Subject: Career question for you


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Doc’s Answer

Ester the three different ways to become a registered nurse include obtaining a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), earning an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), or receiving a diploma from a hospital. Typically, a BSN takes 4-years to complete. An ADN usually takes 2-3 years to complete. A diploma program may take 1-3 years to complete. Additionally, RNs should have supervised clinical experience. Licensing is required in all states. Aspiring registered nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN, and voluntary specialty certifications are also available. Nurses should have good communication, organizational, and critical thinking skills. They should also be patient and emotionally stable and have strong attention to detail.

Diploma programs in nursing are the least common education option of the three and are often offered through vocational or community colleges, typically last about one year. Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), sometimes known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs), care for ill, injured or disabled people in nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, group homes and private homes. In order to become an LVN, a candidate must successfully complete the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Obtaining a license is a requirement to legally gain employment as an LVN. This computer-based test is used to assess the competency of nurses regarding healthcare procedures and concepts.

Students can pursue an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN) that usually take 2-3 years to complete. These programs may require around 72 credit hours and typically include hands-on clinical learning. Associate's programs are beneficial because they take less time to complete than a bachelor's program, and thus students are able to start clinical experience sooner and work as an RN. However, some employers are requiring that nurses achieve a bachelor's degree to have more experience and knowledge during employment. Once students have earned their diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing, they must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and meet their states' requirements for nursing licensure.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs are unique in that students can pursue the BSN program after high school or become an RN first and pursue an RN-to-BSN degree program. RN-to-BSN programs typically allow students to earn their BSN in about a year, while traditional BSN programs may take 3-4 years to complete. A bachelor's degree is beneficial to gaining employment and advancing in your nursing career. Nurses with a bachelor's degree may have more independence and better job opportunities. They are also able to complete more complex medical procedures under the supervision of a doctor and also may supervise other nurses. Nurses with a bachelor's degree may improve patient outcomes as they have more knowledge and experience than nurses with an associate's degree. In addition, nurses with a bachelor's degree tend to make more and have more opportunities for salary advancement compared to nurses with an associate's degree.

Nurses are in demand and the industry expects to see a 12% increase in jobs from 2019 to 2029. This increase is faster than the average for other occupations and is due to an increase in preventative care and people leading longer and more active lives. As with all nursing specialties, occupational nursing is a growing field, and demand for these types of nurses is expected to continue to grow faster than average. Employment for registered nurses is expected to outpace other occupations, with an estimated 371,500 new jobs anticipated from 2019-2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS expects excellent prospects for registered nurses, especially in locations and employment settings that face shortages. Nurses who have a bachelor's degree will be more competitive in the job market, as will nurses who have education or certification in a particular nursing specialty, such as occupational health.

Good Luck Ester

Doc recommends the following next steps:

Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) provides an opportunity for future health leaders — including nurses — to take advantage of professional and academic resources while still in high school. The group offers events, competitions, scholarships, and plenty of resources to help connect learners with the nursing world while still in high school.
Because nursing relies heavily on an understanding of math and science, students should prioritize these at the high school level. They should also take as many AP courses as possible in these subjects, as this can help them meet requirements while still in high school and become familiar with college-level topics.
Spending a couple of hours each weekend at a hospital, assisted living facility, or in another healthcare setting can help students learn more about the profession and understand whether it offers a good fit for their personal and professional needs. Volunteer work hours also look great on a college application.
Thank you comment icon Thank You Raquel. “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” — Helen Keller Doc Frick
Thank you comment icon ThankYou Skylar. “The broadest, and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good. ” – Ivan Scheier Doc Frick
Thank you comment icon 2 year and 4 year RN degrees make the same amount of money. Also no change in pay after obtaining your BSN or MSN degrees. ME Marie Enos MSN, BSN, RN-NIC
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Ester! First of all no question is stupid especially when it relates to your career choice- and that's why we have CareerVillage! Okay, my best friend is in nursing school and I want to be a physician so together in college our routes were very similar so I will tell you what I know from my own experience that I had with my best friend. First there are a couple of routes to being a nurse; you can go to community college and get your associate's, you can go to a university and receive a bachelor's and then go to nursing school or you can go to a university with a nursing school program as well (most common option). Some nurses choose the first route but by obtaining a bachelor's you have more options like having more responsibility and it's also more feasible to find a job (once again this is from what I've seen from my best friend and another individual I know through a friend).If you obtain an Associate's degree and find a job in a hospital most hospitals require you to complete your Bachelor's in a certain amount of years therefore it's more time and money and best to go for BSN directly.

After high school, if you went to a nursing school with a program it would require you to take specific classes towards your BSN; it would be general classes, nursing specific classes as well as clinical education too. It would take about three to four years; many universities have these combined programs- the university my best friend and I graduated from also did too but after we graduated! Before applying to these programs however there are certain requirements like having a certain GPA overall and in science courses, as well additional extracurriculars to be accepted directly into the program. Definitely speak with your guidance counselor and make sure to identify what you need to apply for the BSN programs at the affiliated universities. Start searching up colleges with such programs- although you are in California, I know of Rutgers University on the East Coast that has a great nursing program so you can look onto their website as well to get an idea. Another route that my friend took was being a Biology major that prepared her for nursing school, and she completed it in 4 years and is now attending nursing school. I think this route is also doable if you do not want to go straight into a nursing program, you will be taking courses in heavy sciences within your major and that will prepare you significantly for nursing school. I think Medical Terminology would be helpful as well as maybe taking additional AP science classes and Anatomy and Physiology. Right now keep up your grades, look for colleges with combined BSN degrees and speak with your guidance counselor about your options and determine which one is best for you. One last note I would like to add at the end of nursing school whichever route you take you will be required to take
N-CLEX which is the nursing exam to obtain a license to practice in nursing.
I hope this has helped!

I wish you the best!

*Below is the link for Rutgers nursing school to get an idea!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:
speak with guidance counselor
look into nursing programs/qualifications
Take more science courses
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Raquel’s Answer

Hello Ester, it is easy to get confused when trying to sort through the abundant amounts of information on how to become a nurse, but it is a pretty simple process. A BSN is a bachelors of science in nursing. After graduating with this degree you will be able to take the NCLEX exam, and after passing you will be a registered nurse. Although you can become an RN through attending a program at a community college, many hospitals are leaning more towards BSN holders. It also allows you to move up in the field easier.

While in high school I would look at university’s that you are interested in attending and then look specifically at their nursing program. The nursing program is a specific part of the university, not its own entity. After you pick a school and graduate high school you will need to take a variety of prerequisite classes before applying to the nursing program. These will include general education classes (math, English, humanities, science...) as well as more nursing specific classes such as anatomy & physiology and microbiology. Each program has slightly different prerequisite requirements, for example the school I attended required an interpersonal communications course. I would work closely with a pre-nursing counselor to determine what classes you need to take and create a high quality class schedule each semester. Most schools offer a pre-nursing major that then becomes nursing upon acceptance into the nursing program, this makes it easy to know all of your degree requirements. Either in your last year or last semester of prerequisite courses (this depends on your specific school) you will apply to the nursing program. Nursing school is competitive to get into so it is important to have good grades. You will also need to take an entrance exam, either the ATI TEAS or HESI, both exams test you in math, grammar, critical reading, and anatomy/physiology, you will also need to score well on this exam to be accepted into nursing school. Once you apply the program will review your application, many will then conduct an interview. There are abundant resources online with sample questions for nursing school interviews, I would look some up and create answers for you to practice.

Once you get accepted into a nursing program most run for around 2 years, or 4 semesters. You will learn so much in this time period, but it is important to know that nursing school teaches you how to pass the NCLEX not how to be a nurse. It provides you with valuable book knowledge but nothing compares to hands on learning and experience. Once you start nursing school make sure to take full advantage of your clinical rotations, what you learn there will be so valuable for when you graduate and start working as a nurse.

Nursing is a very rewarding, though difficult career, I hope that you are successful in all your endeavors!
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Aj’s Answer

You will have to get a associates degree in nursing from a JR college which will take 2 years then attend nursing school for 2 years then you will have 5 - 10 months of a nursing externship which includes paid on the job training program through a hospital or physicians office or medical building

Aj recommends the following next steps:

Sign up for a JR college
Attend for 2 years
Graduation form JR college
Attend nursing school
Graduation from nursing school
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Suzanne’s Answer

Hi Ester,

This is Sue and I am a retired cancer nurse. I worked in Los Angeles for over 35 years so am familiar with the system there. I am so excited that you are interested in becoming a nurse. You are correct to ask about the required steps to enter nursing school. I will try to give you the best information available along with some websites to help you on your way. There are no stupid questions!

1. Book an appointment to speak to your high school counselor as soon as possible. Ask about the classes you need to take before you graduate from high school that will help you get into a college with a good nursing program. Typically, you will need to have a foreign language class (2 years) in high school, science and math, along with all the other high school graduation required classes. Try to keep your GPA up. Cement those solid study habits now. A good GPA will help you obtain scholarships.

2. Talk to the local Red Cross. See if there are any volunteer programs available during this time of Covid-19. Having volunteer experience will help you in two ways: it is a great addition to your resume and it will also help you learn more about the healthcare field. You can find the volunteer application here:

2. In your senior year, begin touring colleges with good nursing programs. It is possible to take the State Board Examination for Nursing Licensure (NCLEX) with either an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN).

BUT: most inpatient hospitals require their nurses to have a Bachelor's degree and for this reason I strongly encourage that you obtain this degree. (I earned my Associate's then worked and went on to earn my BSN and MSN. It took over 10 years and was very difficult). As an example, if you wanted to work at Cedars Sinai, a BSN is preferred. You will enter the nursing field with advanced knowledge, a better chance at passing the state board exam, and will earn a higher salary than your peers. Not all nurses will agree with me, but that is ok.

Here are some pros and cons for both degrees:

**Faster: In general, an ADN can be a faster degree to complete, although that does vary on the program's prerequisite requirements and if there is a wait list of any kind.
*Can complete while working: Getting your ADN could potentially allow you to work and earn money while you pursue any additional education.
*Employer tuition assistance programs: You may also be eligible for an employer tuition assistance program if your ADN allows you to become employed somewhere, and then you choose to go back to school.
*Step toward earning your BSN: You may be able to complete your BSN online after getting your ADN, saving you time and money in commuting costs.

*Lower salary: Your nursing salary may be lower as an ADN than a BSN nurse.
*Fewer career opportunities: Career opportunities are significantly more limited than with a BSN.
*Potential downsides down the road: If you want to pursue more education, it could be more difficult to be a full-time student and qualify for financial assistance while working as a nurse.
*Fewer job opportunities: Some hospitals may require you to have a BSN, so you may not be able to work in certain areas.

*Job preference: Many hospitals prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses and some may even require it.
*Expanded knowledge: With a four-year program instead of a two-year one, a BSN will provide you with a larger base of knowledge as a nurse.
*More career opportunities: Having your BSN opens up more career opportunities and the potential for higher salary.
*Prerequisite for graduate programs: You can advance directly into a graduate program, such as an MSN degree program without any additional classes.
*Prerequisite for APRN roles: A BSN is required for any Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) role, such as a Nurse Practitioner or CRNA.
*Time to complete: Getting your BSN directly may take less time than getting your ADN first, then going back for your BSN, because any lapse in time may require additional classes. If you get your ADN, for instance, then wait several years before getting your BSN, you may need to take additional prereq classes to qualify for a BSN program, so it could end up taking longer (and cost more money) than if you had just done the BSN program from the beginning.

*Cost: A BSN program may be more expensive than an ADN program, in some cases, significantly so.
*Time: The BSN program will usually take longer than an ADN program. However, this is not always the case, and the full scope of the ADN program should be considered. For instance, if you enroll in an ADN program that has a year waitlist, and requires classes that fill up quickly, meaning you might have to wait a year before getting into one, your three-year ADN program could easily turn into a four-year one, which is the same amount of time a BSN degree could take.
*Competitive programs: The program may be more competitive than an ADN program. A BSN program may require more prerequisites and a higher GPA for admission, for instance.

There is a massive shortage of nurses right now not just in the USA, but globally. Nursing is a career where you will always earn a decent living, will help humanity, and never be at loss for a job. As you learn more about the field, you will begin to see there are a wide variety of opportunities from working in the outpatient, to inpatient, to schools and universities, along with many specialty areas such as cancer nursing, acute care nursing etc. Additionally, it is possible to earn advanced degrees and become a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife. You might enjoy reading through this list:

3. By now, you will want to start looking at the colleges and universities that offer nursing programs in Los Angeles and there are many. You will want to work with both your high school counselor and the college/university admissions to see which schools you will want to apply to.

Here is a step-by-step explanation from the State of California:

You will want to choose a nursing program that has a very high State Board Test pass rate and is also nationally accredited. You cannot start practice nursing without first passing this examination which is taken after you graduate from your nursing program. You will pass it on your first attempt if you make the effort to take a NCLEX test course prior to taking the test. Below is a current list of all of California nursing programs pass rates. As an example, Cal State Long Beach had 134 students take the State Board and 99.25% passed the test! That is an amazing statistic. Here is the list:

4. Apply to several schools. Once you have been selected and start college, you will take pre-requisite classes prior to starting the core nursing courses. Here is the website for Cal State Long Beach Nursing Program. Read through this carefully:

Ester, this may seem overwhelming, but when done in small pieces, it breaks down to little steps that will take you very far. I was the only person in my family to earn a college degree. I also had no one at home to ask how to do these things. I learned slowly. I asked questions. I studied really hard. Becoming a nurse was the best decision of my life.

Please let me know if this helps. You will have to copy and paste the links into your web browser to view the websites. And yes, learning medical terminology will be helpful!

I am sincerely wishing you all the best,
Sue, RN

Suzanne recommends the following next steps:

1. Read through all attached websites
2. Book an appointment with your high school counselor
3. Investigate and pursue healthcare volunteer opportunities now
4. Speak to college/university nursing admissions to learn about their processes for application
5. Keep up your high school GPA
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Sanober’s Answer

Hi Ester!

I want to keep my answer short and simple, as degree programs will vary depending on your location.

You can achieve a BSN directly after completing high school, and it is the quickest way to become an RN with a bachelor's degree instead of an associate's, which will in turn help you in the long run.

Please search "BSN programs near me" and see what pops up.

Best of luck!

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John’s Answer

Here's the basics. See and search for registered nurse. you'll get more details then next will be best to talk to an actual nurse.

Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must be licensed.

Nursing education programs usually include courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology psychology, and other social and behavioral sciences, as well as in liberal arts. Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree programs typically take 4 years to complete; associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree, and diploma programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. Diploma programs are typically offered by hospitals or medical centers, and there are far fewer diploma programs than there are BSN, ADN, and ASN programs. All programs include supervised clinical experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually include additional education in physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. A bachelor’s or higher degree is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.

Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, employers—particularly those in hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree.

Registered nurses with an ADN, ASN, or diploma may go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and accelerated programs for those who wish to enter the field of nursing and already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) must earn a master’s degree in nursing and typically already have 1 year or more of work experience as an RN or in a related field. CNSs who conduct research typically need a doctoral degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Registered nurses must have a nursing license issued by the state in which they work. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Other requirements for licensing, such as passing a criminal background check, vary by state. Each state’s board of nursing provides specific requirements. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, or pediatrics. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a specific level of competency, and some employers require it.

In addition, registered nursing positions may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification.

CNSs must satisfy additional state licensing requirements, such as earning specialty certifications. Contact state boards of nursing for specific requirements.

Important Qualities
Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must assess changes in the health status of patients, such as determining when to take corrective action.

Communication skills. Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and evaluate their health conditions. Nurses need to clearly explain instructions, such as how to take medication. They must work in teams with other health professionals and communicate patients’ needs.

Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when working with patients.

Detail oriented. Registered nurses must be precise because they must ensure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stressors.

Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients who have a variety of health needs. The ability to coordinate numerous treatment plans and records is critical to ensure that each patient receives appropriate care.

Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.

Most registered nurses begin as staff nurses in hospitals or community health settings. With experience, good performance, and continuing education, they can move to other settings or be promoted to positions with more responsibility.

In management, nurses may advance from assistant clinical nurse manager, charge nurse, or head nurse to more senior-level administrative roles, such as assistant director or director of nursing, vice president of nursing, or chief nursing officer. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions require a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration. Administrative positions require leadership skills, communication ability, negotiation skills, and good judgment.

Some nurses move into the business side of healthcare. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care businesses. Employers—including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations—need registered nurses for jobs in health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance.

Some RNs may become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners, which, along with clinical nurse specialists, are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs need a master’s degree but many have a doctoral degree. APRNs may provide primary and specialty care, and in many states they may prescribe medications.

Other nurses work as postsecondary teachers or researchers in colleges and universities, which typically requires a Ph.D.
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Linda’s Answer

Hi Ester, My best advice is to start at a college for your BSN (which is the same thing as "nursing school". Technically you can do an Associate Nursing program but it takes longer to get a BSN after that). I feel like I wasted valuable time in years going for my ADN first then my BSN four years later which took me two more years, so six years for what could have taken me only four years. First, fill out a FAFSA and get your financing together. Find an accredited nursing school BSN program and speak with an admissions advisor; maybe meet with two or three schools to compare current academic plans to find the best fit for you. Then get started! The sooner you start, the sooner you will be done. Take it seriously and get very organized and prepared to make it your life while in nursing school. It is very challenging and demands most if not all of your brain power and energy. Study study study! I worked as a nursing aide/assistant through nursing school which is helpful to get comfortable with the work setting. And if you get into a unit you really enjoy, talk with them about becoming a nurse when you get your license. Pass your exams, get through all of your classes, pass the national nursing exam, get your state nursing license. Then get a job as a nurse. Good luck!