How Long Does It Take to Become a Registered Nurse?

by | May 11, 2020 | Nurse Education | 0 comments

Hey, do you know that baby boomers are fast exiting the workforce as a good number of them are approaching retirement? Yes, they are and one job sector where their exit will be most felt is in the health workers sector. Statistics show that by the year 2030, about a million qualified registered nurses will have retired in America.

So, if you are thinking this is a job market that has growth potential, you are very right. Currently, there is already a shortage of nursing professionals in the job market, what about a decade from now when a good number will be retiring?

Additionally, the US government is currently on a drive to broaden healthcare access across the country. That is compounded by the fact that nowadays a lot of people are becoming proactive about their health and are out seeking preventive health care way before they get sick. The country is also witnessing an aging population that is in constant need of close medical attention.

However, nursing is a very critical job where one handles people’s lives through their hands. It requires highly competent skills and hands-on training. These days, a minimum qualification standard is a bachelor’s degree. Though that has not been the case before, but many states across the nation are pushing to have a bachelor’s degree as the entry-level requirement.

How long will it take to be a Registered Nurse?
If you are about to graduate from high school and embark on a college education career. Then certainly, a course in nursing will be a wise decision. Not only will your efforts be appreciated by the number of lives you help save, but also there is a lot of demand for your skills.

Let us look at how long it will take you in training to become a registered nurse (RN). There are various types of nurses; no, they are not all the same. Some are more critical than others, and naturally, it means the level of training involved in the various types of nursing is different. Some take more years than others.

The various programs leading up to becoming an RN take a different amount of time to successfully complete and be eligible for the national licensure to operate as RN.

Different Types of Programs Leading to RN Career

1. High School Qualifications
Your journey to becoming an RN begins with your performance while in high school. So, if you are in high school now, and want to, later on, take up training in nursing. There are certain qualifications you must attain while in high school, to make your path to becoming an RN smoother and faster.
● A minimum score on the SAT or ACT
● A GPA between 2.0 and 3.25
● A three-years’ worth of mathematical experience including algebra II and geometry
● Three-year’s worth of science subject experience including biology and chemistry
● Four-year’s worth of experience in English
● Two-year’s worth of experience in a foreign language

The above high school requirements vary across the states. The list could be more or less per any given city, but there is no doubt, your high school performance has an influence on how fast (or if at all) you can embark on your path to becoming an RN.

2. Diploma Nursing
After completing high school, a diploma may be the quickest path to becoming an RN as it takes between 16 months to 2 years to complete the program. It is also the minimum education training to become an RN.

The diploma program is offered by either a hospital or college, in both cases, there is extensive hands-on training of clinical experiences. Students taking a nursing diploma must at the very least cover the following courses:
● Anatomy
● Health care needs
● Health issues
● Holistic care

3. Associate Degree Nursing
The second path to becoming an RN is through earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). A student needs between 20 to 24 months to successfully complete the program, and it will include a lot of hands-on training on the clinical experience.
The coursework a student taking ADN or ASN will include:
● Medical terminology
● Microbiology
● Health assessment
● Nutrition
● Pathophysiology

4. Bachelor’s Degree Nursing
We started off by saying that most states across the United States are pushing to have the minimum qualification for RN as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Though that is yet to be fully implemented across the country, a holder of BSN degree is the most preferred job candidate for most employers.

Be that as it may, a BSN program takes between three to four years to complete. The student’s coursework includes:
● Healthcare policy
● Population-based health
● Nursing assessment
● Chemistry
● Ethics

A BSN is also the minimum requirement to pursue advanced education in nursing; for instance in the nurse practitioner schools.

Registered Nurse Licensure

To be qualified as an RN, whether you undertook a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree, one must get the Registered Nurse Licensure. You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to hold the title of RN.

You can decide to take a break from learning (and exams) after obtaining your diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree before going to sit for the NCLEX-RN exams. Some take a few months to a year off, while some take up the exams just weeks after graduating with the degree or diploma.
Some states require the holder of NCLEX-RN to pass a further vetting process. That includes a background check and the following certifications:
● Basic Life Support (BLS)
● Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
● Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
● Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Upon becoming an RN after the above-mentioned programs, the nurse may decide to specialize in a chosen field of nursing. They will then require additional advanced certification in that specialized field.

For example, if a nurse wishes to specialize in the field being a nurse-midwife; that is giving maternal care and nursing newborn babies. They may pursue advanced certification in pediatrics, which will be completely different from a nurse dealing with general emergency medicine in ambulance care.

An APRN usually pursues a master’s degree in nursing and further clinical training. The students must be holders of at least a BSN and licensure as an RN to be admitted to an APRN program.

RN Career Benefits
RN in America enjoy a high job satisfaction level and their efforts are often well compensated for in terms of salary, job security, and benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 12% job growth for nurses in America by the year 2028.

Currently, the average RN takes home about $75,510 annually, which is impressively above the national average of $51,960. The upper limits for RNs, and that is for an RN with a lot of experience, is in the range of $100,000 per year.

The Quickest Path Earning as a Nurse
We have since established that a career in RN not only comes with good packs, better than the average American but also is a job sector with growing demand. However, if you were thinking of getting into the field, and start working as soon as possible. Below are some tips on the quickest path to get there:

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
The training program to become an LPN takes about 11 months; that is three semesters and about 40 credit hours. The coursework may or may not include clinical components, and most students taking this path say they were able to work while taking their studies.

A qualified LPN can work at the patient’s bedside in clinics and just about any other institution in need of nursing services. Please note, an LPN is not a Registered Nurse, not by any stretch of the imagination. There are things an RN can undertake, which an LPN is not permitted by ethics, medical practice, and by law to undertake.

However, an LPN is definitely a stepping stone to becoming an RN. It takes a shorter time for an LPN to become an RN compared to someone just starting out fresh in the nursing training. So if you aspire to be a nurse one day, but don’t see yourself taking the full-time training course either because you don’t have the time or the full money. An LPN will be a great start as it allows you to do some training in nursing while earning, and then you can advance your learning to become an RN later on.

Nurse Apprenticeships
Hospitals and academics institutions offer nursing apprenticeship programs, where participants can earn their way to a nursing degree through hands-on training. The student can get paid something little while they are in training. However, this path may or may not shorten your journey to qualifying as an RN. Not forgetting it provides you the right network earlier on to land a job, as you will be interacting a lot with people in the industry. Someone may know someone and a recommendation here and there lands you a job.

Not taking Semester Breaks
Another way you can ‘woosh’ through nursing school is by undertaking your training in colleges that give you the option of not taking the breaks in between semesters. For instance, attending school during the summer if you are up to sacrificing your summer vacation.

If you push through the months, back to back, you are guaranteed to graduate a little earlier than someone that takes the breaks in between the semesters. The quicker you can be done with the college education, the faster you can start earning money as an RN.

However, this path is not for people who want to juggle working and classes. As the workload can be too much leading to burnouts, which will inevitably affect your performance in class and possibly deny the chance to become an RN in the desired time.

Things you must Prepare for while pursuing a Nurse course. There are always two sides to a coin, is it? Well, even nursing school has its pros and cons. While it leads to a promising career, the journey through the school is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The following are some of the challenges you must learn to push through:

Many All-Nighters Consistently
There is a lot of reading and practical learning involved in nursing school. For instance, the John Hopkins School of Nursing, an ivy-league nursing school in America requires its students to complete about 50 credits and 500 clinical hours for a master’s program.

These days, a bachelor’s degree program students take longer to graduate compared to previous years. It gets even longer if you are working part-time; as the degree demands a lot of credits.

Burnout will be a Regular Thing
There have been several studies that show students taking nursing courses experience more burnout than students in any other field. The study went to highlight that some students take to negative habits in order to cope with the burnout. In a nutshell, one must learn how to handle stress and how to relax when feeling burnout. Otherwise, your dream will come crumbling down like a house of cards.

It Can Be Quite an Expensive Undertaking
Statistics show that the average BSN degree costs between $40,000 and $200,000. It has also been established that compared to other students taking various courses, nursing students often spend money out of their pockets.

That might be expected, given nurses on average make more money than the typical American. So it is only natural that they have to invest quite an amount to get there compared to other professions.

If you are about to clear high school and mulling which education program you should take leading to a rewarding career. Then, by all means, nursing should be at the top of your list. However, you must be prepared psychologically, mentally, and financially to pursue it.

Otherwise, your journey in nursing school may be rough, but when you will successfully finish the program. You will be glad you made those sacrifices as the career is highly rewarding.

Article provided by, Advocate Search Group – a recruiting firm focused exclusively on filling academic nursing program positions throughout the USA

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