Nursing is a really great and fascinating career choice that lot of high school leavers seek to go into. The nursing profession is quite broad and offers a lot of options for specialization. Also, the salary that nurses receive is quite juicy.

In the United States of America, registered nurses earn $67,930 on a yearly basis. This breaks down to an average wage of $32.66 per hour, $1,306 per week and a monthly income of $5,660. The salary that nurses receive is well above the U.S national average which is 45,790.

As a nurse, you get to help save countless number of lives on a daily basis and that is really cool. Registered nursing is a popular profession within the medical field and it is projected that the demand for nurses will increase tremendously over the next couple of decades.

This projection was made based on the fact that the population of the aged is on the increase due to better standards of living, wider availability of healthcare to even the most remote places and also because a lot of the currently registered nurses are nearing retirement. So with all these, it is easy to see the reason why a lot of people are interested in becoming registered nurses.

Presently, there are over 2.7 million registered nurses in the US today with a huge chunk of them working in hospitals. They can also work in schools, clinics, some health care setting, military, governmental organizations and rehabilitation centers.

The role and duties of a registered nurse may vary depending on the particular niche of the health industry where they find themselves in, but in general their duties include, performing physical exams on patients, administering medication, wound care, general direct care of patients, assisting doctors in carrying out medical procedures and even leading public health education campaigns.

If you would like to enter into a competitive career field such as nursing, you may have to ditch parties, dances and ball games and pay attention to your future career. Here are a few tips that will help to set you on the right path.

  1. When you are in high school you will have to make sure that you meet the basic requirements that will allow you get into a college. This includes taking all the right classes, meeting the prerequisite attendance, acing your exams and having a good GPA. You will need to take classes in math, chemistry, biology, physics, anatomy, physiology and English language. Endeavor to learn as much as possible from your college science classes to not only pass but to also know. This is because science is continuous and builds on knowledge that you should have had.
  2. A summer or part-time job in healthcare or volunteering at your local clinic or hospital will greatly boost your application and enhance it. As a volunteer you may be tasked to answer phone calls or alternatively, you will be charged to do support duties that will expose you to what working as a nurse is all about. Also a first aid or CPR certification will really look good on your application.
  3. Advanced placement (AP) classes can be really beneficial to hopeful nurses in two ways. The first is that AP’s make use of advance curriculum and they offer extra college credit which can not only save you time and money but can also make it easier for you to get admitted. Secondly, even if you do not get the extra college credit you would have benefited from the knowledge which the program would have impacted on you.
  4. If you are good with exams or you have enough advanced knowledge in some subjects, you should consider sitting for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). CLEP tests can be converted to college credits if you pass.
  5. If you above the age of consent while in high school you can take a certified nurse assistant (CNA) course. As a licensed CNA, getting admitted to study nursing will be a lot easier.

After you have graduated from high school with your GED or your high school diploma, carefully choose various nursing schools and then apply. Explore the various options you have and then choose a college that you like its learning style, location and schedule among other factors.

Completing an accredited registered nurse program

To become a registered nurse, you must first complete and graduate from an accredited program. It can be a nursing diploma, associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Here are the various educational options available for high school leavers who want to be registered nurses.

  1. Undergraduate: schools of nursing that are based in hospitals offer diploma in Nursing (DiN) that can make you a registered nurse.
  2. Associate degree in nursing (ADN): in previous times a DiN was the preferred option for high school leavers who wanted to become registered nurses. These days, an ADN seems to be the most popular option, it is also one of the fastest ways of eventually becoming a registered nurse. To get an ADN, you need some science subjects and also some liberal art subjects. With an ADN, you can easily get admission into an entry level position. In normal scenarios, it takes about 2 to 3 years to complete.
  3. Bachelors Degree of Science in Nursing (BSN): this degree is offered by a college or a university and normally takes duration of 4 years from beginning to the end. If you are already holding a form of non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you will have to spend only one or one and half years at the college or university to get a BSN. A BSN offers better chances of specialization for its holder and also it equips you to work in any field of nursing.

Licensing

In the United States, every employed registered nurse is expected to have a license. Mandates vary from state to state and as such you would have to contact your state to get the proper procedure for applying for a license. Usually there is a nursing board that is in charge of issuing licenses to only people who they deem as competent. The nursing board:

  1. Examines the education, competency and dedication to continuing education of the prospective licensor.
  2. Look into complaints delivered and also carry out disciplinary actions when necessary.

Cost of becoming a registered nurse

The cost of becoming a registered nurse differs in regards to the path you choose to toll.  If you choose to go the Associate degree in nursing path, it will cost you not less than $31,000. An associate degree in nursing cost less but it may also limit your career plan and can also increase the difficulty in becoming a midwife. It is good to note that the fees that colleges or universities quote for you will only include tuition. For other expenses such as text books and accommodation, you will have to still spend extra money.

Additional training and education for registered nurses

If as a registered nurse you want to advance your career and certificate, you can go for a master’s degree. After you have gotten the additional master’s degree, you can then apply to be a certified nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist and midwife. If you want to further this you can go for a doctoral program. You can also get certifications in areas such as critical care, acute care or nursing management.

Ajaero Tony Martins