How to Become a Nurse

If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career in the healthcare field, you may be thinking about how to become a nurse. Nurses are an important part of a team of medical professionals, and their work may include performing physical exam and recording a patient’s health history. They also counsel patients and educate them about a variety of health concerns, administer medications and conduct research to improve practice and patient outcomes.

Nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, community health centers, nursing homes, schools and in the military. They may also work at camps, in prisons, homeless shelters or in tourist destinations. Some nurses choose to work at various locations on a short-term, temporary basis, and these travel nurses can see the country or get international work experience while being well paid for their efforts.

Education Required to Become a Nurse

You can start the education process to become a nurse by taking math and science courses in high school. Algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry, physics and computer science should be part of your course load. You will also need to take English, social studies and a foreign language.

After completing high school, you can choose an Associate degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Associate degree programs are offered at community colleges and take between two and three years. A Bachelors degree program will take four years of study at a university to complete and will prepare you for administrative and leadership positions.

The curriculum for an Associate degree program would include the following

• Anatomy and Physiology
• Basic Nutrition
• Critical Care and Emergency Nursing
• Fundamentals in Nursing
• Maternal-Newborn Nursing
• Mental Health Nursing
• Pathophysiology
• Pediatric Nursing
• Pharmacology
• Psychology
• Sociology

Students who choose to pursue a BSN would take courses in:

• Clinical Nursing Foundations
• College Algebra
• Developmental Psychology
• Health of the Older Adult
• Human Physiology and Anatomy
• Nurse as Care Provider
• Nursing Care of Children
• Nursing Care of Clients with Alterations in Mental Health
• Nursing Care of Families During Childbearing Phase
• Nursing Care of Populations and Communities
• Nursing Research
• Trends and Issues in Professional Nursing Theory

Licensing Exam for Nurses

Each state has its own requirements for licensing nurses. You will need to complete an accredited educational program and pass a criminal background check before you will be authorized to write the national licensing exam. Some states allow graduates from a nursing program to work in a supervised capacity while they are waiting to write the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX), and it’s a good idea to ask about whether you can get an interim permit in the state where you are planning to work.

You will need to apply to the state board of nursing and pay a fee before you will be allowed to write the NCLEX. Most of the questions on the exam are multiple choice, but you may also be asked to calculate the correct dosage of a medication and input the answer or arrange the steps for a procedure into the correct order as part of the exam.

When you are thinking about how to become a nurse, keep in mind that you will need to pass a licensing exam as well as complete a post-secondary nursing program to qualify for this job.

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