Becoming a registered nurse is a very wise choice for those who are called to the profession. Many hospitals and medical facilities prefer to have nursing staff who have earned their BSN, or equivalent, so if you’re starting to plan your nursing career for 2019, there are some things you should know to help you prepare.
Whether you choose to obtain your BSN from a large-campus nursing school, or begin by earning an associate’s degree, and furthering your education as you go, having a clear idea of what’s expected as far as your education will help you better plan your nursing career. You will need a strong interest, and aptitude, for science. Biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and nutrition are a few of the courses you will need to master. You’ll also be required to do some hands-on training, in a clinical setting, under the observation and instruction of a skilled nurse preceptor.
There are a few different paths to education as you plan your nursing career, but they all lead to the NCLEX exam. This is the test you’ll need to take in order to obtain licensure to practice. Here is a look at some of the ways you can get to that goal of becoming a nurse, as well as other considerations that will help you plan your nursing career.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
A BSN degree, for most people, is a four year degree. This degree is typically earned at a university which offers a nursing program. Some schools will offer accelerated programs to those who are RN’s but who don’t hold a BSN degree. For those who have a bachelors degree which isn’t in nursing, there are also some programs which can accelerate your BSN. As with any degree of higher learning, you will need to have the grades, and test scores, necessary to apply to a college or university.
Associate Degree in Nursing
Though many hospitals and medical facilities today really require a BSN, or RN, there are some facilities which will hire nurses who have an associate degree. This is a wise choice if you aren’t able to afford the time or tuition of a four year school, yet want to practice patient care. You can gain experience which will help if you decide to advance your degree. The courses you’ll study will be very science-heavy with some basic liberal arts core classes included. This is a great way to gain entry into the medical field as you plan your nursing career.
Prerequisites For a Nursing Degree
Before you’re accepted into a nursing program you will need to make sure you have the grades and test scores to apply. Depending on the state in which you plan to attend school, you will be required to have:
- A minimum ACT, or SAT, score
- A GPA that falls between 2.0-3.25 minimum
- At least 3 years of math, to include geometry and algebra II
- At least 3 years of science courses, including chemistry and biology
- 2 years of a foreign language
- 4 years of english, and language arts
Upon acceptance to a state board approved college or university, for a BSN, you will need to declare nursing as your major.
Preparation for the NCLEX
As the NCLEX is the only way you can begin to practice as a nurse, it’s imperative that you have access to NCLEX preparation. Most state board approved colleges and universities will focus on preparing you for the NCLEX. Every state has their own set of criteria for eligibility, so check with your state board to ensure you meet the criteria. There are 4 categories of needs that are covered by the NCLEX, no matter your state. These are:
- Ensuring a care environment that is safe and effective, including infection control
- Possessing psychological integrity, which is about your ability to cope and adapt
- Knowledge of health maintenance and promotion, how to prevent illness and health issues, rather than cure.
- Physiological integrity, which covers proper patient care and ensuring comfortability.
A cornerstone of your degree to consider and prepare for as you plan your nursing career is your clinical rotation. This is a strong part of the nursing school experience. Many schools have affiliate programs with teaching hospitals, and others might require you to obtain clinical experience from a list of approved medical facilities. These true-to-life experiences prepare you in a way no amount of course study can. The lessons you learn, as you apply your educational skills, under the guidance of a skilled preceptor, are invaluable.
Focus on The Future as You Plan Your Nursing Career
These are just a few of the experiences and what you can expect as you plan your nursing career. By pursuing a career in the nursing profession, you are called to the greatest, and most noble, of jobs; patient care. Remember, as you plan your nursing career, that ultimately, the skills you develop will one day provide comfort and care to someone who needs is, and possibly one day save a life.