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How to Become a Nurse

how to become a nurse

how to become a nurseHave you thought about being a nurse? This is a rewarding career and as usual we need more and more nurses. Shortages are common! There will always be work for you. Nurses work in a number of places such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, nursing homes and home health care so you have a number of venues to choose from.

Before you can get started with your nursing program, you’ll need to have a high school diploma or GED. Then, you can get into a nursing program and begin your studies. Keep in mind you’ll need to be good in math, biology and English (communication skills).

You might want to take an entry-level job in allied health to get started. This is not required but can be most helpful not only in gaining exposure to the medical community but help prepare for your nursing studies. Some students consider becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to get started and then progress from there.   You might even consider volunteering at a hospital or evening doing some administration work in a clinic.

You’ll need to determine what kind of nurse you want to be. You can be an LPN/LVN or a RN. LPNs are Licensed Practical Nurses also known as Licensed Vocational Nurse. LPN/LVNs can administer physician-order therapies and medications under the supervision of a Register Nurse (RN).

Some individuals become LPN/LVNs before they become an RN simply because they’re just not ready to go the nine yards at the time. Nevertheless, know that an LPN/LVN has to take the NCLEX-PN exam as opposed to the NCLEX-RN exam that RNs take.

You’ll need to get some idea of the kind of study you want to do. Take a look at a few nursing schools and see what they have to offer. Then you can determine which nursing school is right for you. Bear in mind that nursing programs tend to fill quickly so you need to think about applying ahead of time or you may have to wait a year to two to get in.

Once you apply to the nursing school you want, you’ll need to send high school/college transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendation and probably write an essay on why you want to become a nurse. If you have any job experience in an allied health area, send that information across as well.

Once you are accepted, you’re on your way. Remember, you need to be a good student and make good grades and that may be difficult since you will be studying anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition and psychology. You need to be good because people’s lives are depending on you. Besides your coursework, you will also be taking clinicals. This is your real world training.

Once you have completed your nursing program, you’ll have to prepare for your boards and in the case of an RN degree it will be the NCLEX-RN exam. This is a difficult test that you have 5 hours to take. The test is taken on computer and is adaptive. How many questions you answer will be determined by the computer based on how well you’ve answered previous questions. Once you pass the exam you will be licensed. Make sure you practice, practice and practice before you take it.

Now that you are licensed, you can go job hunting. You might consider working with the elderly, children or mothers/babies to name a few. Determine what you feel most comfortable with. Once you get some experience under your belt, you might want to consider advancing your career by picking up certificates in areas that you are interested in. This will bring more salary and better positions.

You’ll need to maintain credibility and licensure. Each state has its on eligibility requirements so you’ll need to know your states rules. Chances are you will have to attend workshops, seminars and certification classes to keep you up-to-date. You’ll need to retake exams from time to time depending on you particular location and whether or not you’ve continued to work in the field. Long-term work absences can pay their toll.


Intensive care unit nurse

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Susan Ardizzoni

Susan Ardizzoni

Professor Susan Ardizzoni

Susan has studied at the University of Texas Medical Branch Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston, Texas and the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Ph.D. in Biology with a major in Neuroscience and minors in physics and mathematics. Area of research is in brain transplantation and behavior testing with twenty years of teaching experience. Fields of interest include the physical basis of memory and learning, brain repair and regeneration as well as neuro-development. As an educator, has taught thousands of students at the college level in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology, marinebiology, nutrition, communications, radiography, ultrasound, mathematics and physics. She enjoys reading current scientific literature and simplifying the material making it readily available to the public.
Susan Ardizzoni

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