A nurse is qualified medical personnel, who belong in the same multi-disciplinary team with doctors and other healthcare professionals, working to deliver clinical treatment and care for patients in various medical settings.
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The nursing field is a rapidly growing one, and it has a significant professional demand for qualified people.
What Do Nurses Do?
There are different nursing specialities; therefore, nurses do a lot of things, depending on their speciality. However, here are some general responsibilities of nurses, notwithstanding the rest specialities:
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- Assessing the condition of their patients
- Recording the medical data and relevant behaviour of patients
- Working and communicating efficiently with other members of the healthcare team
- Effectively using and maintaining medical equipment
- Helping to formulate treatment plans for patients.
- Educating patients and their families on the patient’s condition and post-hospital care.
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What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Nurse?
To become a practising registered nurse (RN), you need at least;
- An associate degree (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN),
- You need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Registered Nurses.
- It would help if you had additional education, and you also have to pass speciality certification examinations for Higher-level degrees, such as a Master of Science in Nursing.
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How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Nurse?
It takes at least 2-3 years of coursework associated and an associate degree in nursing to become a practising nurse. It takes up to 3 – 4 years of coursework to earn a bachelor’s degree and 2-5 years to get a master’s degree, depending on if you run a part-time or full-time program.
Steps to Becoming a Nurse
If you have decided that you want to become a nurse, here are the steps to get you well on your way to becoming one:
Get a degree, and you need a formal education if you want to become a registered practising nurse (RN). Almost all the nursing field positions require a bachelor’s degree, except for a very few exceptions that can be earned by candidates with associate degrees. Some jobs require advanced degrees.
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Nursing has a lot of degree programs, and you must choose the one that’s right for you, as this is a determining factor in what kind of nurse you end up becoming. Here are some of the popular nursing degree programs:
Associate Degree in Nursing
This degree program helps people to develop a solid foundational knowledge of nursing. They are taught the right attitude and the skills necessary for nursing practice. An associate degree only requires two to three years of coursework.
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Bachelor of Science in Nursing
BSN is another path you can take to become a nurse. An Associate Degree is not needed to enrol in a Bachelor of Science program. Although people with associate degrees can work in nursing positions, nurses with a BSN have a higher chance of getting nursing positions and are usually offered more responsibilities and higher salaries.
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This degree program requires up to 3 to 4 years of coursework. These prospective nurses must still pass the national licensure examination (NCLEX) before starting to practice.
Accelerated Nursing Program
An accelerated nursing program, in particular, is for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field of study.
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Master of Science in Nursing
MSN is a higher-level nursing degree. It would help if you had a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before starting an MSN program. MSN is beneficial in a lot of different ways.
This degree program will help you improve your general nursing knowledge and skill, and you get to take coursework catered toward speciality skills in specific areas of nursing.
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Obtain a License
As we have mentioned before, for your career, you need to earn your nursing license by passing a national nursing licensure examination (NCLEX). You will not be able to practice nursing without the correct credentials.
Licensing requirements depend on things such as; state, nursing speciality, and occupation. Most administrative branches of nursing programs will assist you in obtaining the correct licensure. However, ensure you are clear on which examination you should be taking too.
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The next step to take after you’re properly educated and licensed is finding a job. Location and specific areas of nursing are significant determinants when you are finding employment. For instance, long-term care facilities are predicted to become more popular as the population increases.
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There will be an increasing demand for RNs in those long-term care establishments. Also, there are always new opportunities in places with established medical communities.
Take, for instance, New York City and Philadelphia. These two cities and their surrounding suburbs boast exceptional hospitals and successful universities that offer top-notch nursing degree programs.
Choose a Specialty
You can choose any nursing speciality after graduation from a nursing program and pass the NCLEX. However, it is not necessary to select a speciality.
There are some nursing positions associated with different specialities that may require specific certifications or more advanced degrees. Here are some popular nursing specialities:
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- Neonatal Nursing: These are the nurses that work with patients directly before and after giving birth. They generally work in the neonatal unit at a hospital, but they can also be found in related groups.
- Nurse Midwife: These are nurses that guide patients through all the processes involved in pregnancy and delivery. The individuals in this branch of nursing are currently in high demand and usually well-compensated.
- Clinical Nursing: These are nurses with advanced degrees and advanced certifications. They oversee the work of other nurses.
- Critical Care Nursing: These nurses specialize in critical care. They are employed by hospitals and work mostly in critical care units or trauma centres.
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Pursue Additional Training
This is not necessary if you don’t have specific career goals in mind, although it is a great option. Like every other profession, you need further schooling to get goodies like; senior-level employment opportunities, higher pay, and greater responsibility.