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So, You Want to Be a Nurse?

Written by kristine

So, you have a family member that’s a nurse, or you have watched a television show that sparked your passion to becoming a nurse? That’s great and yes, nursing is a great field to pursue but, the reality is not everyone is meant to be a Registered nurse (RN)! The journey to becoming a RN is hard work and working as a RN is equally hard work. Anyone hoping to pursue the pathway to becoming a nurse must realize that there is a great amount of energy and time commitment involved. Your commitment to preparation must equal your passion. Despite these challenges, nursing is a very rewarding and trusted profession. A few adjectives used to describe nurses are patient advocates, educators, angels, and comforters.

 

Now that you have read this introduction are you still committed to becoming a Registered Nurse? If so, it is important for you to understand the various types of nursing degrees and career pathways available. Let’s discuss the different pathways to becoming a Registered Nurse.  Currently there are three pathways to becoming a Registered Nurse. Future nursing students can pursue either the diploma, associate or bachelor’s degree routes.

 

Diploma Nurse– A program leading to a diploma in nursing is generally 18-32 months in length and is offered by a hospital. The nursing curriculum includes classroom and clinical experiences for patients across the lifespan in hospital, long term care, and community settings. The program prepares a minimal competent, independent nursing practitioner for these settings. Graduates of the hospital-based programs receive a diploma and are eligible to apply to take NCLEX-RN. A Registered Nurse license is awarded upon successful “Pass” on NCLEX and satisfaction of other licensure requirements.

 

Associate Degree– A nursing program leading to an associate degree is generally 2 years in length and is offered by a college that awards associate and/or applied science degrees. The nursing curriculum includes classroom and clinical experiences for patients across the lifespan in hospital, long term care, and community settings. The program prepares a minimal competent, independent nursing practitioner for these settings. Graduates of approved associate/applied science programs earn a college degree and are eligible to apply to take NCLEX-RN. A Registered Nurse license is awarded upon successful “Pass” on NCLEX and satisfaction of other licensure requirements.

 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): A nursing program leading to a bachelor’s degree is generally 4 years in length and is offered by a college or university that awards baccalaureate degrees. Typically, the first two years of the program are spent fulfilling general education requirements, while the last two years are spent on nursing courses. The nursing curriculum includes classroom and clinical experiences for patients across the lifespan in hospital and community/public health settings. There is also a special focus on community health, research and leadership skills. The program prepares a competent, independent nurse for these settings. Graduates of approved BSN programs earn a college degree and are eligible to apply to take NCLEX-RN. A Registered Nurse license is awarded upon successful “Pass” on NCLEX-RN and satisfaction of other licensure requirements.

 

Which Pathway is Right for Me?        

I want to be a nurse, but I am not sure which pathway to take. Each of the three pathways require a lot of time, a lot of studying, and a lot of clarity about the job you’re seeking.  So, it’s important for potential nurses to do their research and really understand what type of nurse they want to be. Regardless of the path you choose once you pass the NCLEX you will be a Registered Nurse. However, the education behind your license will be different and so will your career opportunities. The diploma or associate degree route can be more affordable and faster. This pathway may be for you if your primary interests are doing direct bedside care. However, the official position of the Association of College of Nurses is that the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree should be the minimum education requirement for nursing professionals. The AAACN and the Institute of Medicine encourages anyone seeking to become a Registered nurse to consider a BSN degree. In addition, although there are still several diploma programs in existence, AACN does not recommend that potential nursing students take this route as the entry level educational requirements for nursing is rapidly changing.

 

Dr. Dorothy Miller

Department Chair Health Sciences

Program Chair Nursing