Nursing is a rewarding profession, but it can also get very daunting. You need grit, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. All the while, you need to balance empathy and compassion for patients.
Most of the time, nurses are the ones who hold their patients in their last moments. Without nurses, the entire healthcare system would crumble.
Think you’re up for the challenge? Here is everything you need to know on how to become a nurse.
Table of Contents
Finding Your “Why”
Working in healthcare is meaningful but a very demanding and high-stress career. Finding the inspiration to keep going and keep serving is the first step. Find your “why” to know if nursing is for you.
Finding Your “What”
When choosing your career path, remember that many types of nurses make up the healthcare worker ecosystem. Aside from the experiences privy to each level, nursing positions have different environments.
1. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A CNA helps patients accomplish daily care tasks like feeding and bathing. This gives you close relationships with patients, as many of them need your constant care.
CNAs also maintain room sanitation, attend to patient calls, and keep patient records. If patient issues arise, CNAs pass this to superior nurses.
2. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
LPNs give basic patient care like tending to wounds, changing bandages, and bathing. They are often under the supervision and instruction of a Registered Nurse. Depending on state regulations, LPNs have the authorization to administer medication.
3. Registered Nurse (RN)
RNs take a more administrative role. As an RN, your responsibilities include coordinating patient care, education, and nurse management.
You administer medication and have a closer view of surgeries to assist doctors with exams and operations. RNs also supervise LPNs and other nurses.
This position provides diverse and comprehensive nursing experience. If you’re thinking of advancing your career, the RN position also opens up more educational possibilities.
4. Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners are primary care providers. You have the authorization to diagnose patients and prescribe medicine in this position! Give yourself the freedom to practice independently without physician supervision.
Explore advanced nursing careers! Population and disease trends generate a vast and exciting field of nursing specialties. Read more about growing nursing specialties to see if any of them speak to you.
Executing Your “How”
Now that you have set your sights on a specific goal, this is how you get there. If you want to know how to become a nurse, it begins with a solid educational foundation.
1. Educational Degree
How your nursing career starts depends on your educational background. To become a nurse, you need a diploma, associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree.
Take note that what educational foundation you choose also determines what doors open up for you in the future.
Diplomas are a quick way to enter the nursing field. They usually take 4-12 weeks to complete and allow you to enter the workforce and gain valuable experience. Bearing a diploma, you open yourself up to opportunities as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
Diplomas that provide one year of classes allow you to enter the nursing field as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Registered Nurse degrees usually credit experience as an LPN. So, background as an LPN also gives you a springboard to further your career as a Registered Nurse.
Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree
Associate’s degrees often take two years to complete. An associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree is the prerequisite for becoming a Registered Nurse. Most employers prefer hiring nurses with a bachelor’s degree over an associate’s degree.
Master of Science in Nursing
A master’s degree opens you up for specialized nursing careers. These include nurse anesthetists, midwife nurses, and nurse practitioners. They are lucrative and more in demand.
2. Program Type
Since nurses arise from various backgrounds, it isn’t uncommon for some students to work while studying. If you’re juggling jobs at the moment, explore your nursing school options that fit your schedule.
Some schools offer part-time or full-time classes. There are also accredited online programs you can watch from home. You don’t have to put your dreams on hold.
Complete your program and take the next rung on the ladder!
3. License Exam
Earn your certification before practicing by taking the National Council Licensure Examination. It’s an application- and analysis-based test of all your nursing knowledge. This test determines your qualifications to begin practice as an entry-level nurse.
4. Continued Learning
New techniques, treatment modalities, and medical technologies emerge every day. As a nurse, you have to evolve with the innovations of medicine.
Your responsibilities right now might be different in a year. Certifications change, and new services become available. Committing to nursing means growing with the profession.
Learning doesn’t end in the academic environment. Stay updated with continuing education courses and certifications. Continued learning applies if you want to advance to more specialized roles like dialysis nurses or midwife nurses.
Landing a Job
As of 2020, the World Health Organization admitted to a nurse shortage in the healthcare industry. In light of recent events, the value of health workers becomes more evident.
1. Craft Your Resume
It’s time to flex those degrees you worked your butt off for. Whether it’s a diploma, associate’s, or bachelor’s, list it with pride. Include your other credentials and NCLEX results, and you’re golden.
Landing a job means forming connections. Build this early by fostering relationships with established professionals in your field of choice.
Engage with local nursing chapters or attend their events. Look for RN meetups in your area to fraternize with other nurses. There might be a job opening in their district, and you’re the first person who comes to mind.
3. Increase Your Marketability
Nursing is a high-demand job, but it doesn’t hurt to have an edge. Due to the sheer diversity of patient clientele, hospitals look for multilingual nurses. Make sure to include this in your resume!
If manageable, open yourself up to a flexible schedule and willingness to relocate. Employers need nurses at all hours. Plus, relocating to a state with higher demand for nurses provides you with more opportunities and job security.
Now That You Know How to Become a Nurse, Make It Happen
If you find yourself looking up how to become a nurse, and you made it to the end of this, it might be your calling.
Determine what environment you want to work in and take those first steps. Check out our other blogs to learn more about medical career choices! There’s no such thing as too late to start.