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How to Become a Registered Nurse – A Complete Guide

Do you want to learn what it takes to become an RN (Registered Nurse)? If YES, here is a complete step by step guide plus requirements needed to become a registered nurse online.

Nursing can be regarded as the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities; the prevention of illness and injury, the alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response. Nursing practice varies through its various specialties and countries, and nurses can either work independently as nursing professionals or interdependently with other health professionals such as therapists, dietitians, etc.

According to the international council of nurses, the nursing profession encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people.

What is a Registered Nurse?

A Registered Nurse (RN) is an expert who has gone through the necessary training and education of being a professional and well equipped nurse, capable of giving and providing basic and advanced health care and assistance to patients and other health practitioners. Such a person must have gone through the processes of education, licensing and experience, acquired through practice of providing care and assistance to people.

According to Wikipedia, a registered nurse is a nurse who has gone through and graduated from a nursing program or institution and has met the requirements necessary for licensing, outlined by the regulatory or licensing body of his or her country in order to obtain a nursing license.

Registered nurses are experts employed in a wide variety of professional areas and in most cases, specializing in their field of practice. They may be responsible for supervision of other nurses and other healthcare workers including enrolled nurses, unlicensed nurses, student nurses, practical nurses, etc. in the delivery of their duties.

Duties of a Registered Nurse and their Job Description

  • Provision of basic and advanced health assistance to patients.
  • Provision of necessary help and assistance to other health care providers, such as doctors.
  • Assisting doctors during surgery.
  • Performance of physical examinations and health histories on patients.
  • Supervision of other health providers, such as unlicensed nurses and aides, in the discharge of their duties.
  • Diagnosing the disease by analyzing patient’s symptoms and taking required actions for his/her recovery.
  • Provision of health promotion, counseling, orientation and education.
  • Administration of medications, care, and other personalized interventions.
  • Carrying out the requisite treatments and medications.
  • Interpretation of patient information and making critical decisions about needed actions.
  • Recommending drugs and other forms of treatment, like inhalation therapy, physical therapy, etc.
  • Coordination of care, in conjunction with other healthcare professionals.
  • Observation and recording of patients’ behavioral changes.
  • Conducting research in support of improved practice and patient outcomes.
  • Coordinating with physicians and other healthcare professionals for creating and evaluating customized care plans.
  • Creating harmonious environment for emotional and psychological support of patients.
  • Maintenance patients’ medical histories and monitoring changes in their condition.
  • Maintenance of the inventory and placing orders if required.
  • Assessment and planning of nursing care requirements.

Equipment and Tools of the Registered Nursing Trade

  • Hand Sanitizer: A registered nurse can carry his or her own hand sanitizer or antiseptic, especially when such is not provided by their health facility.
  • Pulse Oximeter: These are very small useful digital devices that nurses use to check a patients pulse. These devices can be placed on a patient’s finger in order to get accurate blood oxygen saturation levels and pulse rate readings.
  • Scrubs: These are very popular in the nursing community and are comfortable to move in. They are very light, easy to clean and easy to remove, which is extremely important in the medical profession, especially when working with sick and injured patients.
  • Nursing Shoes: nurses wear shoes in and around the hospital environment, and the choice of the shoes play an important role in the discharge of their duties. Generally, nurses work on hourly shifts which involve a lot of standing and walking and thus require having a comfortable, breathable, light pair of walking shoes with lots of support.
  • Pen Light: Pen lights enable nurses to check and gauge pupil dilation which helps them to get a better understanding of their patients’ condition such as their consciousness and if there are any abnormalities or anomalies with the patient.
  • Stethoscope: A high quality stethoscope is an essential and important tool for nurses and doctors as it allows them to listen for heart and lung abnormalities.
  • Medical Handbook: Medical reference books and pocket guides gives nurses invaluable information that can help them make better decisions and avoid mistakes in their daily assignments.
  • Writing Materials: registered nurses carry with them during work, material like pens, Pencils, clipboards, paper and medical forms, necessary for keeping track of their patients’ conditions and manage the progression of their health.
  • Medical Bag: Medical bags are essential in the nursing field as they are necessary tools used for carrying all of the nurses’ medical equipments. These items include medical planner, stethoscope, dressing scissors, thermometer, batteries, medical tape, telemetry calipers, writing utensils, hand sanitizer other cleanliness products, lotion, Smartphone and/or tablet, snacks, water bottles, lunch and other essential and nonessential items.

Other essential equipments include Smartphone or tablet, hand watch, blood pressure monitor, dressing scissors, thermometer, blood sugar monitor etc.

How to Become a Registered Nurse – A Complete Guide

Facts, Figures and Labor Market Situation for Registered Nurses

In the United States of America

  • In the United States, the labor market analysis and statistics shows that in the United States, there are 2,824,641 Registered Nurses. The statistics also shows that 9.1% of these registered nurses are men. The median age for male RNs licensed in 2000 or later is 35, compared with 31 for female RNs.
  • About 85% of the number of registered nurses or about 2,596,600 registered nurses are employed in nursing. In the same manner, the average number of hours worked by registered nurses is 37 hours a week.
  • As at 2012, the number of jobs held by registered nurses is 2,711,500. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is an employment change of about 526,800, faster than the average for all occupations. This implies that the registered nurse workforce is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022.
  • This expected growth is projected to occur due to a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby boomer population, as they live longer and more active lives.
  • Nurses play a very significant role in the nation, as most healthcare services involve some form of care by nurses. For instance, in 1980, 66% of all employed registered nurses worked in hospitals.
  • By 2008, that number had declined slightly to 62.2% as more health care moved to sites beyond the hospital and nurses increased their ranks in a wide range of other settings, including private practices, health maintenance organizations, public health agencies, primary care clinics, home health care, nursing homes, nursing centers, insurance and managed care companies, schools, mental health agencies, the military, industry, nursing education, and health care research.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (B.L.S), registered nursing is the top occupation in terms of the largest job growth from 2008 – 2018. Government analysts project that more than 581,500 new RN jobs will be created through 2018.

In the United Kingdom

  • In the United Kingdom, the nursing profession has gone through several changes in role and regulation. Nurses now work in a variety of settings in hospitals, health centers, nursing homes and in the patients’ own homes.
  • About 400,000 nurses in the United Kingdom work for the National Health Service (NHS). All nurses must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in order to practice as a nurse. Shortages were particularly acute in London where Barts Health NHS Trust reported 1200 vacancies, that is one fifth of the nursing workforce in July 2015.
  • In August 2014 there were about 325,000 registered nurses working in the NHS. The Health Education England proposed to train 23,000 extra nurses by 2019. It equally projects a total of about 31,000 full time equivalent nurses to retire between the periods of 2014 to 2019.
  • According to the department of health in the UK, the National Health Service is the major employer and provider of almost all healthcares in the United Kingdom, and employs the vast majority of UK nurses and midwives which number 386,000.
  • The nursing staff in the UK is split into two main groups: the non-registered staff such as clinical support workers and healthcare assistant. And registered staff which includes: First level nurses, second level nurses, specialist nurses, and managers.

In Australia

  • In Australia, nurses are in great demand. According to the new statistics, there are more than 331,000 registered nurses and midwives in Australia.
  • The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) released the figures which show that Australia boasts of 288,861 nurses, with New South Wales home to the most nurses with 79,004, followed by Victoria with 76,598, Queensland with 54,415, Western Australia with 28,240, while South Australia has 26,987, Tasmania stands at 7,497, the ACT has 4,379 and the Northern Territory has 2,867.
  • 40,755 people were registered as both a nurse and midwife, with 14,447 in New South Wales, 10,389 in Victoria, 7,645 in Queensland, 3,242 in Western Australia, 2,653 in South Australia, 591 in the Northern Territory, 735 in the ACT, and 727 in Tasmania.
  • More than 370,000 health practitioners have renewed their registration since July 1, 2010, and close to 315,000 registered practitioners are in the process of renewing their registration in the lead up to May and June.

In Canada

  • In Canada, job prospects for nurses are good-Before the latest recession (2007 to 2009), there was very high demand for new grads. After the recession, nurses who were expected to retire chose to continue to work for a few more years, leaving fewer positions available.
  • In the early 1990s, most provinces and territories were not hiring nurses. Two decades later, Canada is facing a growing nursing shortage, due to an aging nursing workforce.
  • The total nursing workforce is now more than 348,000. However, the rate of registered nurses growth is still lagging. According to the Canadian Nurses Association, it has been projected that if no policy interventions are implemented, Canada will be short almost 60,000 full-time equivalent registered nurses in 2022.
  • With increasing policy attention focused on improving the situation, almost 70 percent of registered nurses are now employed full-time in Ontario, which improves the quality of patient care and work satisfaction.

Impact of Technology and Internet on the Nursing Profession

  • The nursing profession will improve through the non-invasive and minimally invasive and more accurate tools for diagnostics and treatment which will generally result in lower patient risk and cost.
  • The use of Biometrics can increase the security of confidential healthcare information or data and eliminate the costs of managing lost passwords.
  • When robots are introduced and used in hospital environments, they can provide improved diagnostic abilities; a less invasive and more comfortable experience for the patient; and the ability to do smaller and more precise interventions
  • Nurses and other Healthcare providers have access to critical patient information from multiple providers online, literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which gives room for better and coordinated care.

Career ideas Within the Nursing Profession

  • Emergency Nursing
  • Enterostomal Therapy Nursing
  • Gastroenterology Nursing
  • Gerontological Nursing
  • Hospice Palliative Care Nursing
  • Cardiovascular Nursing
  • Neuroscience Nursing
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • Critical Care Pediatric Nursing
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Nephrology Nursing
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Oncology Nursing
  • Orthopedic Nursing
  • Prenatal Nursing
  • Preoperative Nursing
  • Rehabilitation Nursing Clinical Study Observer (and Interviewer) Nurse
  • Educator Nurse
  • Geriatric and Retirement Nurse
  • Intensive Care Nurse
  • Mental Health, Psychiatric and Addictions Nurse
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Oncology (Cancer) Nurse
  • Palliative Care Nurse
  • Nurse Health Coach
  • Life Care Planner
  • Nurse Navigator
  • Academic Nurse Writer
  • Legal Nurse Consultant
  • Hospice Nurse
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Concierge Nurse
  • Forensic Nurse Consultant
  • Nurse Case Manager
  • Dialysis Nurse
  • Nurse Midwife

Professional Bodies and Associations within the Nursing Profession

In the United States of America

  • Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses
  • Academy of Neonatal Nursing
  • American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing
  • American Association of Moderate Sedation Nurses
  • American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners
  • American College of Nurse Practitioners
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Nursing Informatics Association
  • American Organization of Nurse Executives
  • American Psychiatric Nurses Association
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing
  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
  • American Association of Diabetes Educators
  • American Association of Heart Failure Nurses
  • American Association of the History of Nursing
  • American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants
  • American Association of Managed Care Nurses
  • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
  • American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators
  • The American Association of Nurse Attorneys
  • American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners
  • American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
  • American College of Cardiovascular Nurses
  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • American College of Nurse Practitioners
  • American Holistic Nurses Association
  • American Nephrology Nurses’ Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Nursing Informatics Association
  • International Association of Forensic Nurses
  • International Council of Nurses
  • International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care
  • International Society of Nurses in Genetics
  • National Academy of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners
  • National Association of Neonatal Nurses
  • National Federation for Specialty Nursing Organizations
  • National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
  • Society of Pediatric Nurses, ETC.

In the U.K

  • NMC – The Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • RCN – Royal College of Nursing
  • Unison
  • NBS – National Board for Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Visiting for Scotland
  • WNB – Welsh National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting
  • NIPEC – Northern Ireland Practice & Education Council
  • An BordAltranais – Southern Ireland Nursing Registration Board
  • INO – Irish Nurses Organization

In Canada

  • Canada – Canadian Nurses Association
  • College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia
  • College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
  • Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association
  • College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba
  • College of Nurses of Ontario
  • Nurses Association of New Brunswick
  • College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia
  • Association of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island
  • Association of Registered Nurses Of Newfoundland And Labrador
  • Registered Nurses Association of the
  • Northwest Territories and Nunavut
  • Yukon Registered Nurses Association


  • Australian and New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses
  • Australian College of Critical Care Nurses
  • Australian College of Midwifery Incorporated
  • Australian Neonatal Nurses Association
  • Australian Nursing Council Inc.
  • Australian Nursing Federation
  • Nursing Council of New Zealand
  • Royal College of Nursing Australia
  • Australian College of Mental Health Nursing
  • Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
  • The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)
  • Royal College of Nursing Australia
  • Australian Nursing Federation
  • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council

Benefits of Becoming a Registered Nurse

  • Registered nurses save lives
  • Registered nurses have many choices of locations and careers and flexible work schedules
  • Registered nurses receive a higher salary than others.
  • Growing availability of registered nurses jobs
  • Registered nurses have a wealth of career growth and educational opportunities
  • Registered nurses receive more respect from physicians and colleagues.

Factors Discouraging People from Becoming a Nurse

  • Nurses are exposed to all types of germs and viruses.
  • The job of a registered nurse can be stressful and demanding
  • Registered nurses may have to work holidays, nights and weekends.
  • Registered nurses are exposed to violence at work place.
  • Exposure to hazardous chemical chemicals daily at work.
  • Often times, nurses are not given adequate respect as compared to doctors.
  • Nurses are also at the risk of being exposed to the various diseases carried by their patients. For instance, during the last Ebola outbreak in West Africa, a lot of doctors and nurses lost their lives while trying to fight the disease and save infected patients.

How Much Do Registered Nurses Earn Monthly/Annually?

  • In the United States

In the United States the average annual salary for a Registered Nurse is currently $67,930 which breaks down as an average of $32.66 per hour, $1,306 per week and a monthly salary of $5,660. California comes out as the highest paying state for a Registered Nurse with an average annual salary of $94,120 while Iowa is the lowest paid state on mainland U.S.A. with an average RN salary of $52,540.

  • In the U.K

The minimum starting salary for a registered nurse in the United Kingdom is £21,478. A Registered Nurse earns an average salary of £23,038 per year.

  • In Canada

The average pay for a Registered Nurse is C$31.62 per hour. Nursing pay is based on a number of factors, including whether or not an organization is unionized. According to the latest figures, the highest hourly average wages are earned in Edmonton, Alberta at $41.00 per hour and the lowest average wages are earned in Montreal, Quebec at $28.96 per hour. A typical full-time annual salary for this occupation is in the region of $65,000 – $75,000.

  • In Australia

Registered nurses earn an average salary of $70,065. A Registered Nurse (RN) earns an average wage of AU$29.76 per hour.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Registered Nurse?

There is more than one way to become a registered nurse. There are two-year programs at community colleges and four-year programs at state schools. Most of these programs require certain classes or pre-requisites in order to enter the program.

The timeline for becoming a registered nurse varies according to what type of formal education program an individual chooses. Aspiring registered nurses have their choice of 2-year associate’s degree programs or 4-year bachelor’s degree programs in nursing to gain training in this field; less commonly available are 3-year diploma programs held at hospitals.

Educational Requirements for Becoming a Registered Nurse

To be eligible for any of the educational programs of becoming a nurse, applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. The most common educational paths to becoming a registered nurse are to obtain a bachelor’s or an associate degree in nursing. Aspiring nurses may also consider 3-year diploma programs offered by hospitals, although these programs are much less available.

An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) can be earned at both 2-year community colleges and 4-year learning institutions and it takes two or more years to complete, including classroom education and clinical training in a healthcare setting. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may take up to four years to complete as it provides a faster entry into the profession.

Certifications Required to Be Recognized as a Registered Nurse

  • In the United States

The licensing body for registered nurses in the United States is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The examination which can be taken via computer requires the candidates to pay a fee. The computer keeps giving questions until it is certain whether or not the test-taker is qualified.

The candidates must know how to keep patients comfortable and calm, identify appropriate use of medications necessary for the treatment of particular ailments, calculate doses and recognize adverse effects of medications. The candidate must have applied to his or her respective state board of nursing where he/she intends to practice. The license fee ranges between $200 -$400 depending on each state.

  • In the UK

In the United Kingdom, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the regulatory body and nurses must register with this body before they can practice.  After the application, candidates must have been practicing as a nurse or midwife for at least one year or for at least 450 hours in the last 3 years.

The NMC charges £140 to process applications and then once it has been accepted, candidates will be required to pay a registration fee of £162 which is valid for three years. The assessment process can take up to six months.

  • In Canada

The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) is the regulatory body for nursing practice in Ontario. To practice as a registered nurse, the candidates must be Canadian citizens or authorized to work in Canada. They must have also completed a nursing program, practiced as a nurse within 3 years prior to registration, and completed the NCLEX-RN. Registration for registered nurse is between $150 -$250.

  • In Australia

Similarly in Australia, nurses must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia in order to practice. The application fee is around $150, with other charges to be included.

Can You Become a Registered Nurse By Taking Online Courses?

Nursing is certainly a hands-on profession, but that doesn’t mean online programs are not available. There are many associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs to choose from online. Distance learning usually requires the students to complete their studies online and conduct their clinical experiences within their local community. Online RN-to-BSN programs are also available.

These programs are specifically geared toward working nurses and using an online classroom can make getting a nursing degree more convenient. Accelerated, or second degree programs, can also be completed online and can usually help people starting a new career in nursing get going quickly.

Career Opportunities for Registered Nursing Professionals

There is no straight jacketed way through which one can possible make a living in the profession. This is why various ways have emerged. Registered nurses can work and practice in all healthcare settings such as

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Medical office
  • Community health centers
  • Care centers
  • Schools
  • Clinics
  • Home services
  • Relief Camps
  • Homeless shelters or homes
  • Prisons
  • Sporting events

Nurses may also practice in:

  • clinics
  • cruise ships
  • hospice facilities
  • hospitals
  • industry (occupational health settings)
  • long-term care facilities
  • military facilities
  • pharmaceutical companies (for example, as researchers)
  • physician offices
  • private homes
  • retirement homes
  • schools
  • Schools
  • Camps

Skills and Traits Needed to Become a Successful Nurse

To become a successful registered nurse, you:

  • Must be organized and perform activities in a planned manner.
  • Must be able to manage stress and physical trauma.
  • Must be kind, compassionate and sympathetic to patients, mentally and emotionally.
  • Must be able to handle official duties without any fear or favor.
  • Must be able to treat patients as required without sentiments.
  • Must have excellent communication skills to interact with patients, colleagues and doctors.
  • Must be cautious, calm and alert.
  • Must be dedicated, patient and committed to his or her duties, and to the patients.
  • Must be agile, focused and detail oriented.
  • Must be competent to make critical decision.
  • Must be attentive, vigilant and observant.
  • Must be responsible in the discharge of his or her duties, and do such without negligence.
  • Must be mentally stable and physically strong to cope with daily activities and stress.

To become a successful registered nurse within the framework of the nursing profession, an aspiring nurse must understand the profession, which is about the provision of care. Such a person must be able to analyze the pros and cons of the profession and ascertain whether he or she fits in. once this is established, such a person must learn the skills, traits and qualities involved. In addition, he/she must obtain the necessary educational qualification and get licensed, and also strive to be a professional in the field. © 2015 - 2017 | All Rights Reserved | See About us | Privacy Policy and Disclaimer.