How to Become a Registered Nurse in the US: Steps to Take

A registered nurse is a healthcare professional with a state board license. They provide patient care of different types and can have a number of narrow specializations. For instance, public health nurse, labor and delivery nurse, neuroscience nurse, etc.

Where Does a Registered Nurse Work in the US

Where does a registered nurse work? Nurses can work in a number of different environments, and the most widespread of them are:

  • State, private, and local hospitals
  • Doctors’ offices and private clinics
  • Home health and centers for outpatient care
  • Nursing care and residential care facilities
  • Education
  • Government

It is vital to know that a registered nurse (RN) has both administrative and clinical responsibilities. However, their duties depend on their experience, area of work, and certification.

What Does a Registered Nurse Do: RN’s Responsibilities

Registered nurses accomplish a range of tasks:

  1. Observing and assessing patients’ condition and signs of illnesses.
  2. Giving medications and necessary treatments that doctors prescribe.
  3. Viewing and contributing to patients’ care plans.
  4. Educating people and their families on keeping the best health possible.
  5. Making diagnostic tests & analyzing them.
  6. Using consultations & partnering with other healthcare organizations.
  7. Recording symptoms and completing medical histories.
  8. Supervising other healthcare experts, – medical assistants, LPNs, and CNAs.

Next, let’s see what are the requirements to become a registered nurse and what abilities are crucial.

What Is a Registered Nurse and What Skills They Need

If your passion is making the world better through the high quality of healthcare, there is a set of skills you have to master to help people maintain good well-being.

Registered nurses are successful if they acquire technical skills in medicine along with other workplace skills. They include:

Basic care. First and foremost, these are emergency and first aid skills: dressing wounds, inserting catheters, drawing blood, etc.

Patient care and safety. This concerns every interaction of a registered nurse with a patient who might need support when getting them from the bed, sanitary help so that infection risks disappear, and so on.

Recognizing and monitoring vital signs. Measuring blood pressure, body temperature, pulse, and respiration rate and knowing what measurements are okay for each age group is more than necessary.

Using devices and software. These days, healthcare providers work with computers a lot, either to make appointments or check vital signs with the help of monitors. So, it makes sense to become more tech-aware and use technologies seamlessly for greater work effectiveness.

Directing the intake of medicine and monitoring it. One of the greatest responsibilities of a registered nurse is making sure a patient takes the right medication. This includes counting the doses, clearly understanding the mechanisms of treatment, and realizing what they treat.

Communicating. Last but not least, there is interacting effectively with patients and colleagues. It’s essential to get the right information, make the right conclusions, listen well, and provide relevant solutions. It’s also about the workplace and doctor-patient ethics, staying calm in situations when patients lose their temper, etc.

How to Become a Registered Nurse: What to Start With

Tutoring at college or medical school is an absolute necessity when it comes to building a career in medicine.

So, it turns out that the first and logical step toward becoming a registered nurse is appropriate education. Education can also have an accelerated form for RNs. All in all, nursing is a road with many directions so at your first stage, take time to choose where it will take you. Nursing directions are, however, optional, and you can stay in general practice sphere.

Think of the spheres of medicine that inspire you the most. Popular paths to build a career in nursing include:

  • Geriatric nurse
  • Pediatric nurse
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Perioperative nurse
  • Mental health nurse
  • Nurse education
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Nurse midwife
  • Oncology nurse
  • Travel nurse
  • Orthopedic nurse
  • Medical-surgical nurse

What Education Is Needed to Become a Registered Nurse

Receiving education to become a registered nurse presupposes that you attend a college or technical school with proper accreditation. So, what degrees do you need to be a registered nurse?

You will need an ADN degree (2 years) or a BSN degree (bachelor’s degree in 4 years). This kind of education will let you master the theory and, at the same time, go through clinical work and practice.

Besides, there are other diploma programs for becoming a registered nurse, but they are rare. Bachelor’s degrees can be foundations for advanced nursing programs: after them, students can earn master’s degrees. Here registered nurse bridge programs are also available. They help you to get two degrees from the same college at the same time. These are great time savers. Earning a registered nurse degree also presupposes writing a registered nurse research paper.

Now, exactly what education is needed to become a registered nurse?

So, the highest degrees in nursing include a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). These registered nurse diplomas are required if you aim to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Certified Nurse Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and many others.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Registered Nurse

Your degrees and exams aren’t the only requirements. These registered nurse education courses are the first steps to become a registered nurse.

Next, gain experience in clinical settings. Clinics are only one of the settings.

That is where all didactic materials find use – clinicals let you build actual skill sets and get you ready to work as a registered nurse.

This is the clinical component of your education and one of the final steps in getting a job as a registered nurse. Keep in mind that this practice is often a key for nurses-to-be to pass NCLEX successfully.

After the national exams, you will have the right to practice as a registered nurse in the state you took the examination. In addition, you will be able to apply for licensure in all other states of the US.

NB: To earn a BSN, either with or without a previously completed registered nurse course, one will also need to submit to a criminal background check. This is performed through American Databank.

How Much Does a Registered Nurse Make

Income isn’t the last point among all concerns of those who pursue a career in medicine. So, what is a registered nurse in numbers? Let’s have a look at statistics and try to see the average salary.
All in all, healthcare providers in the US can have competitive take-home pay. As for the year 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identified incomes in popular nurse jobs as the following:

  • Registered Nurses (RNs) – $82.750 (hourly: $39.80)
  • Nurse Practitioners (NPs) – $118.000 (hourly: $56.5)
  • Nurse Midwives – $114.000 (hourly: $54.5)
  • Nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) – $202.470 (hourly: $97.3)

The average salary, considering the incomes of many other nursing jobs, makes nearly $82.700. In addition, the answers to ‘How much does a registered nurse make?’ vary from state to state. The overall material well-being of a state has an impact on how much a registered nurse earns.

For instance, there are top paying states for registered nurses (by annual salary): California ($124.000), Hawaii($106.500), Oregon ($98.600), Columbia district ($98.500), and Alaska ($97.200).

How Long Does It Take to Become a Registered Nurse

Now, if you have chosen a registered nurse program, look at what your target college or school suggests. A bachelor’s program, which is advised to all, takes 4 years to accomplish. An associate degree can be earned in 2 years. That’s the answer to ‘How long does it take to become a registered nurse?’

Summing up, if your goal is an advanced practice registered nurse profession, you will need 4 years plus 2 years for a post-graduate program. Add here some time for practice and taking exams.

What Degrees Do You Need to Be a Registered Nurse

Obtaining the right to work as a registered nurse (RN) requires an associate (ADN) or bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN in nursing). A bachelor’s degree is often preferred to other qualifications as it is considered a course with more profound knowledge.

The registered nurse definition is different from those of similar profile professions: LPNs and LVNs, – licensed practical and vocational nurses. Registered nurses work with others and take part in managing nurses and assistants. This is where an RN comes close to an advanced practice nurse.

A registered nurse diploma is still not all: you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exams to get the license, get some nursing practice, and meet the requirements of separate clinics to be accepted there.

That’s how to become a registered nurse in the US.

What Is the Difference Between Registered Nurse and BSN

So, now you’d like to know what is the difference between registered nurse and BSN? A BSN, or bachelor of science in nursing, is a higher level of education and a degree required for getting into the registered nurse career. Either BSN or ADN nursing can lead you to the job, but the opportunities they open are different.

ADN or associate degree in nursing makes you a registered nurse in your state, while a BSN offers wider areas for work. Both of them require you to pass the national exam – NCLEX. They both can continue as a registered nurse to BSN and registered nurse to MSN programs. These higher education courses let you get a higher nursing position and be involved in leadership.

It is also obvious that nurses with a BSN degree will have more responsibilities than just RNs and can have expectations to earn a higher salary. This difference makes up to $20.000 a year.

Take heart and work toward fulfilling your dream and becoming a registered nurse.

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