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Getting Started in Nursing


1:  Get your high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED)
Taking these classes in high school will give you a head start on your nursing prerequisites in college:
  • English: 4 years
  • Math: 3-4 years (including algebra and geometry)
  • Science: 2-4 years (including biology and chemistry; physics and computer science are recommended)
  • Social Studies: 3-4 years
  • Foreign Language: 2 years (recommended, but not required)
2: Choose your nursing school and apply
Here are the different paths you can take to become a Registered Nurse:
  • Get your Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ASN/ADN): it takes two to three years and qualifies you to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • Get your Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN): it takes four years at a college or university and prepares you for bedside and leadership roles. You’ll also be qualified to take your NCLEX-RN.
  • Get your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): it takes two years at a college or university, after you earn your BSN. It qualifies you to work as a Nurse Educator or manager, and is a prerequisite to get your PhD.
  • Go through a hospital: earning your Nursing Diploma takes approximately three years through a participating hospital. You’ll likely take your courses at a nearby school.
  • Go through the Military: You can train for two, three, or four years in an ROTC Nursing program at a college or university.
Another way to start your nursing career is by first becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse/ Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN).
  • As a Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN), you can start working in the profession as early as one year after you begin your training. You’ll need to enroll in a Vocational training program or LPN School, which will qualify you to take your National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN).  Working as an LPN/LVN is a great way to gain experience, and many hospitals have funding opportunities available to help LPNs/LVNs continue their education.
?Here are some tips to help you decide on a school:
  • Visit the school website or campus that interests you the most.
  • Find out which entrance exams they require, such as the SAT, ACT, or others.
  • Know the application deadlines by checking the school's website or contacting them.
  • Give yourself options by applying to more than one school, or check out nursing schools without waiting lists.
3: Apply for Financial Aid
  • You can find hundreds of scholarships, grants, loans and other opportunities for financial assistance.

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4: Get licensed as an RN
 
You’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX–RN) in order to practice as a RN. Research shows that students who take the test soon after graduating have higher success rates—something to keep in mind when scheduling your exam.
Here are a few things you’ll need to do before taking it:
  • Make sure you’ve met the eligibility requirements, then submit an application to the board of nursing where you want to be licensed.
  • After you apply, you’ll get an Authorization to Test letter, from the board, that you’ll need in order to register for the exam.
  • Register with Pearson VUE, then schedule your exam.
  • Familiarize yourself with the NCLEX test plan and find your test site.
 
Content Courtesy of The Campaign for Nursings Future Johnson & Johnson

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