Should You Become a Registered Nurse?

Are you thinking about becoming a registered nurse (RN)? If you’re passionate about helping people and looking for a career that offers plenty of opportunities, this could be the perfect job for you.

Still not sure if nursing is right for you? Let’s take a closer look at what this career entails and how to pursue it. 

Career Overview 

Registered nurses work in numerous medical settings. These include hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, schools, and urgent cares. 

An RN’s duties vary widely according to what type of medical facility they work for. In general, they assess patients, record symptoms and medical information, administer medications and treatments, educate patients and their families, and work within a larger medical team to develop a patient care plan. 

Registered nurses generally have impressive salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for RNs was $75,330 in 2020. 

This career comes with a lot of job stability and the outlook is good. They’re in high demand thanks to an aging population in need of medical care and a generation of retiring nurses. 

Are You a Good Candidate? 

The ideal nursing candidate possesses critical-thinking skills, since certain situations nurses encounter can be challenging and require quick thought processes.

Nurses should also be compassionate. Although they may be there for happy and joyful moments throughout a patient’s life, they will generally encounter difficult and sad moments. A good sense of empathy is important. 

Good communication skills are necessary for this job. Nurses communicate with patients to assess their medical information and any symptoms they may be experiencing. They then relay this information to the doctor and other staff nurses. 

Since nurses may have to lift patients and generally spend many hours on their feet, it’s important for them to be physically fit. 

How to Become an RN 

The first step to becoming an RN is completing an accredited nursing program. There are three possible degree routes: ADN, BSN, and accelerated BSN. 

In almost every state, it’s possible to become an RN by earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). This two-year degree allows you to work as a nurse in most places, but a four-year Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) is the preferred degree by most employers. Nurses with a BSN have a higher earning potential than those who hold an ADN. In the state of New York, for example, registered nurses are required to have a BSN. If you want to become an RN, it’s generally recommended that you earn a Bachelor’s degree. 

If you already have a Bachelor’s degree, there’s another option for obtaining a BSN: an accelerated BSN. This degree allows you to earn a BSN in just 16 months. This is an ideal option for anyone who is thinking about going back to school to become an RN. 

Once you complete a state-approved nursing program, you’ll need to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN). This computerized exam tests your knowledge to determine if it’s safe for you to practice as an RN. 

It’s important to do some research on RN license requirements by state. Some states have additional requirements. In New York, for example, these include completing coursework in infection control and child abuse. In Washington, RNs must clock 7 hours of AIDS coursework. Finding out the requirements for your state will help ensure the licensure process goes as smoothly as possible. 

If you think you have what it takes to become a registered nurse, you’ll be among the most coveted. At the end of your educational journey, you’ll find plenty of opportunities at your fingertips.