So you want to be a nurse do you? Nurses provide a very valuable service to the community. Nurses work to protect and promote health care interests. They work tirelessly to prevent sicknesses and injuries in the patients they serve. Their job is to comfort and help to treat those in their care and to provide advocacy services to individuals, families, communities and the population at large.
Every nurse needs to obtain a license to practice nursing in the United States. It is a requirement of the profession. Every state has its own nursing board. The mission of every one of these boards across the country is to protect the public from any type of harm that threatens their health and well-being. The licensure board establishes requirements for the basic education of nurses, as well as competency and continuing education. The board is also responsible for any disciplinary actions that need to occur and also investigates any complaints that come their way.
How to Become a Nurse
As our population continues to grow in size the need for skilled and well trained nursing professionals rises. If you wish to become a nurse then you have chosen a career path that will bring many benefits with it, both for yourself and for the patients that you care for.
As with any career path a nursing career is the right choice as long as you choose the right means of reaching it. You need to create a timeline and a plan for yourself in order that you will be able to advance into the position you wish to be in at the approximate date that you wish to be there.
Nursing Assistant/ Nursing Aide
Some people in the nursing field begin their careers in health care by becoming nursing assistants or nursing aides. This is an excellent way to break into the profession of nursing and to find out if this is the type of work that you would like to pursue in the future. A nursing assistant needs to take courses and then once the program has been completed must apply for certification. This leads to the person becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Choosing the nursing assistant route not only gives you plenty of exposure to patients but it also may be one of the elements required to help a person in getting into a quality nursing program in the future.
Both the jobs of nursing assistant and nursing aide can be the steppingstones to better things down the line. Many RN’s started their health care careers doing these jobs first.
If you decide to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse then you will spend approximately one year studying at a junior college or a vocational school. The LPN/LVN will work under the careful supervision of a doctor or an RN. The LPN will have more advanced skills in the field than a nursing assistant but will be able to perform fewer medical tasks than the RN can.
The knowledge and experience that you gain as an LPN or LVN will help you not only in doing your job at this level, but also if you decide that you would like to go further and become a Registered Nurse (RN).
Registered Nurse (RN)
The next step on the nursing education ladder is that of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). These nurses require a higher level of education than do LPNs. In most cases Registered Nurses earn either an ADN or a BSN degree.
Registered Nurses can either decide to study for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) in which case a two year degree program is required or they can choose to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) which is a four year degree program. While many people believe that the four year BSN degree is the superior choice this choice is not available to all would-be nurses. The increasing demand for qualified Registered Nurses explains in part why ADN programs continue to be so popular.
It is recommended that those wish to become Registered Nurses earn their BSN because the extra level of education can affect what you are paid. Having a BSN will also make it a smoother process for you to further your education and explore areas of specialization.
Registered Nurses who wish to advance their careers and develop more expertise in their field may decide to pursue graduate studies. They may decide to go back to university to obtain their MSN, PhD or DNP.
Master’s Degree programs in the nursing field (MSN) offer a variety of tracks that help to prepare RNs for future careers as Advanced Practice Nurses, nurse educators and nurse administrators.
The PhD program for nurses, also known as the Doctor of Philosophy is focused on research. Those who graduate from this advanced level of nursing education will be qualified to teach nursing and also to do research.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice programs (DNP) focus in on clinical practice as well as roles of leadership. This is another route that a Registered Nurse who wishes to climb higher may choose to follow.