In order to become a registered nurse, you can expect to devote a couple of years to your education and proper training to become a registered nurse. Depending on the degree level and specializations you’re obtaining, it is safe to say that you will spend a few years finishing your entire program. It is important to remember that nursing students must have excellent grades and valuable work experience, before entering the field or job of their choice. Registered nursing is the largest occupation within the health care industry, yet it remains increasingly competitive among popular medical settings and desired positions. Therefore, students must earn the best grades to stay up to par with their peers.
If you decide to complete an associate degree in nursing or another health-related topic, it may take about two years to complete. An associate degree covers more technical skills than theory, and it is a starting point toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing. A bachelor’s degree in nursing will take about four years to complete. Bachelor’s degrees allow students to obtain a greater understanding of science and general nursing knowledge over a longer span of time. In addition, bachelor’s degrees provide more clinical experience in nonhospital settings, and it makes advancement opportunities more attainable. Lastly, diploma programs are available for students that will be working in a hospital or another inpatient setting, and they take about three years to complete.
In addition to nurse training preparation, graduates will spend a good amount of time studying for the national licensing exam called, NCLEX-RN exam. This exam measures your educational training and your ability to administer proper patient care. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing developed the NCLEX-RN exam and provides examination pass rates by the type of candidate, degree level and if they are repeating the exam. It’s a good idea to check the pass rate for the degree level you are interested in, and preview your school’s NCLEX-RN pass rate before enrolling in a program. According to NCSBN, the NCLEX exam is the final step to becoming a licensed registered nurse and the pass rate is an accurate portrayal of how many new nurses will enter the field. Students are able to retake the NCLEX exam, but the maximum number of times a person can retake the exam is determined by the individual state boards of nursing. According to the Nurse Practice Acts, each state has their own policies concerning the total number of times a graduate can take the exam, as well as how many years after graduation a candidate is allowed to take the exam without completing another nursing education program.