1. Choose the right path for you.
Figure 10.2 "No matter how many crazy faces Mr. Johnson gave nurse Betty, she wouldn't give him more Vicodin."
There are many different types of colleges in the United States that have great nursing programs. You must go to a college with an approved nursing program in order to take the NCLEX-RN (the test you take in order to get your license). When it comes to the number of years you want to spend learning the way of the nurse, you have a few options. A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) takes four years and is offered by colleges and universities. An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) can take between two and three years. A diploma degree, which is taken within a hospital, lasts for three years. However, this type of education is a bit rare to find.
2. Learn your anatomy and graduate.
Be prepared to study in order to become a nurse. Most nursing programs see fit to require a certain grade for each course and a minimum overall GPA by the end of each semester. This is good news for the general public because we want you to know where to take a pedal pulse and where to put an enema. Make the most of all your semesters. If you don't get the grade, you'll have to take the course over again. Nursing programs also include supervised clinical experience (they don't just throw you in there) where you can show off your knowledge and get help from the wise ones.
3. Get your license.
Figure 10.3 Oops, it says here you should be dead.
Check off the list of requirements. Once you have graduated from an approved nursing program, you must then apply for a nursing license from your state board of nursing. They will determine if you meet the criteria to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). NCLEX is a standardized exam that each state board of nursing uses to determine whether a candidate is prepared for an entry-level nursing position. Once you have been accepted, you will receive authorization to take the test along with a list of places and instructions on how to do so.
There is help out there. Kaplan and Lippincott have review books to help you study for the NCLEX. Some students study on their own and others invest in books or classes in order to pass. Whatever you do, make sure to prepare.
4. Get a job, become a nurse.
Many nursing students get hired shortly after graduation. It's time to celebrate. You have officially become a nurse. Nurses are needed everywhere. This means that the job market for you is a pretty good one. Remember, the more willing you are to be mobile, the easier it will be to get a job as a nurse.
Advance Your Career as a Nurse
To become a nurse, you've got to love what you do. RNs can specialize in one or more areas of patient care. For example, you could become a perioperative nurse and work in operating rooms and assist surgeons. If you are looking to move up the ranks, consider going to graduate school and getting an advanced degree in nursing or health sciences. With an advanced degree you could become a clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse-midwife, or a nurse practitioner. You could also get an advanced degree in health services administration. Whichever path you choose to take, make sure you love it. Nursing can be a physically and emotionally draining job.
Tips from a nurse:
Try getting a job as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) during school.
Interview nurses to see what kind of work you would be interested in.
Make friends. It pays to know people and to be on their good sides.