Are you on the fence about obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing? The opportunities for qualified nurses are endless. From hospitals, to long-term care facilities, to doctor’s offices, clinics, and more nurses are in short supply. As the very large baby-boomer generation ages out nurses are only going to be more in demand. If you feel called to a career in nursing, consider your options.
CNA or All the Way?
For those who are eager and ready to begin working in less than a few years, perhaps a program qualifying you as a nurse tech, or certified nursing assistant, is the way to go. If you want to become an RN, you need to pursue a bachelor’s degree and complete clinical practice and pass your boards in order to be licensed in your state as a Registered Nurse.
Many nursing schools will recognize your previous college credits as applicable, and if you have completed an accredited 2 year nursing program you could go even further and pursue your bachelor’s in nursing. Many schools will recognize your CNA or Nurse Tech certificate and then you’re halfway there. If you’re contemplating a bachelor’s degree in nursing, here’s the information you’ll need now.
Prerequisites for Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
For your bachelor’s degree in nursing, most universities in the US will require you have 60 hours of core coursework under your belt. This includes courses in:
General Electives (those courses you choose that may or may not have any bearing on your chosen field. Languages, Art and Humanities, History and the like are examples of general electives)
Human Growth and Development
Social Science Electives
Keep in mind the number and categories of electives, and course hours, may change depending on the university. These are the basic classes required to obtain consideration for entrance into a bachelor’s degree in nursing program.
Begin with a Lesser Degree or Certification
As mentioned, if you have already completed a certification program as a CNA, Nurse Tech, or similar, speak with the office of admissions at your chosen college of nursing. Very often a 2 year associate’s degree can be the foundation for you to build on to obtain your bachelor’s degree in nursing. The workload won’t be an easy one if you continue your work as a CNA, however the payoff is amazing.
Improved Job Security
So much more…
If you haven’t yet enrolled in a CNA program, and are on the fence about pursuing your bachelor’s degree in nursing, seek out a bridge program. Many nursing schools will allow you to obtain your CNA certification, work a bit, then come back to complete your RN. All in all, it will take about the same amount of time to complete your bachelor’s degree in nursing, but you will be able to take some time to work in a hospital or clinical setting, get paid, and decide if this is the right career path for you.
However you choose to obtain your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN. This is the licensing program which allows you to practice as a registered nurse. It’s a stressful time when you are preparing to sit for the NCLEX-RN, but your nursing school will provide all you need to pass with flying colors.
For Those Who Already Have a Non-Related Bachelor’s Degree
If you have a BA, but feel you’ve chosen to pursue the wrong career and you feel called to nursing, have no fear. Many nursing schools in universities across the country offer accelerated nursing programs for those students who wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but have already obtained a bachelor’s degree in another field.
Accelerated nursing programs, or second degree programs, allow individuals already in possession of a bachelor’s degree to complete their bachelor’s degree in nursing program in less than 2 years, sometimes even less than a year. Because the accelerated program has a heavy and rigorous course load, students are often discouraged from working while going to school, so you would need to be prepared.
There are (or were, in most states) programs whereby you could obtain a degree in nursing which would allow you to take your licensure exam. Many schools are phasing out their RN programs in favor of the more thorough and advanced RN-BSN. In order to further your nursing degree, you must attend an accredited nursing school and complete the necessary coursework. Typically you will have your bachelor’s degree in nursing in about 24 months.
Ultimately, only you know how much schooling you can take on at this point in your life. Answering the call to a career in nursing is indeed the start wonderful vocation. Your ability to care for others in a way that provides comfort and healing is not to be taken lightly.
If you feel you want or need to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or an undergraduate degree program in nursing, by all means begin investigating. Contact your local college or university and inquire. You’re not only improving your own life, you’re helping improve the lives of so many others who need you.