How to Become a Nurse in USA:4 Best Steps

This article will give you detailed information on how to become a nurse in USA. The need for healthcare professionals is expanding. Healthcare occupation employment will increase by 16 percent between 2020 and 2030, substantially faster than the average for all occupations, predicts the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The baby boomer generation, those people born between 1946 and 1964, is aging, which is driving up the demand for medical services.

According to predictions from the U.S. Census Bureau, 73 million baby boomers will be living in the country by 2020, and by 2030, every boomer will be at least 65 years old. Additionally, the number of positions held by baby boomers who are retiring will increase.

The aging population requires a variety of healthcare professionals, including registered nurses (RNs).

They have highly sought after. According to the BLS, the employment of registered nurses will increase by 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is about average for all occupations. In this article, we will be looking at how to become a nurse in USA and more. Check out the 10 top nurse requirements in the USA: NCLEX, Licensure & Certification.

Who is a Registered Nurse?

A healthcare professional who has completed nursing school and obtained their nursing license is known as a registered nurse. Registered nurses come in a variety of forms, primarily determined by their areas of specialization.

However, nurses can enroll in nurse education programs and earn credentials to demonstrate to potential employers that they have specialized training.

Types of Registered Nurses

  1. Addiction Nurse
  2. Cardiovascular Nurse
  3. Critical Care Nurse / ICU Nurse
  4. Gastroenterology Nurse
  5. Medical-Surgical Nurse
  6. Neonatal Nurse
  7. Occupational Health Nurse
  8. Public Health Nurse

Addiction Nurse

RNs with a focus on addiction, often known as substance abuse nurses, may have chosen this profession because they or a loved one has struggled with drug, alcohol, or other substance addiction.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, hospitals, and recovery centers all employ addiction nurses. The International Nurses Society on Addictions oversees the certification of addictions nurses (IntNSA).

Cardiovascular Nurse

Hospitals, coronary care units (CCUs), and physician offices that treat patients with heart disease employ nurses who specialize in cardiovascular care.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses oversees the certification of cardiovascular nurses (AACN).

Critical Care Nurse / ICU Nurse

Nurses that specialize in critical care work in both ICUs and CCUs. Critical care nurses and ICU nurses may both be used interchangeably.

They are experts in providing care for those who are hospitalized for serious illnesses and need round-the-clock monitoring.

The AACN also oversees the certification of nurses working in ICUs and CCUs.

Gastroenterology Nurse

Patients with gastrointestinal conditions affecting the stomach and digestive tract are assisted by nurses who work in gastroenterology. They could support medical professionals during endoscopies and colonoscopies.

The American Board of Certification for Gastrointestinal Nurses oversees the certification of gastroenterology nurses (ABCGN).

Medical-Surgical Nurse

In hospitals, medical-surgical nurses often work with a large patient load of five to seven per day.

These nurses are certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Medical-Surgical Nurse Certification Board (MSNCB).

Neonatal Nurse

A neonatal nurse is an expert in providing care for newborns who were born prematurely or with serious, long-term diseases.

They might work in a trauma unit, intensive care unit (ICU), neonatal intensive care unit (NICU; pronounced “nick-you”), or other healthcare facilities. These nurses can become certified through the AACN.

Occupational Health Nurse

A full-time occupational health nurse may work for a big company in addition to the normal clinical setting.

An occupational health nurse, for instance, can be employed by a sizable manufacturing firm to manage workers’ compensation and family medical leave, as well as to assist in injury prevention and the treatment of workplace illnesses.

A certification program is provided by the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN).

Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses may work for governmental organizations, NGOs, and other businesses that advance public health through awareness-raising and screening.

The primary goal of public health nurses is to care for the entire community rather than just individual patients in private practices.

RNs can apply for the National Board of Public Health Examiners’ Certification in Public Health if they have a bachelor’s degree and five years of public health experience.

How to Become a Registered Nurse – Common Steps

  • Finish a nursing education program that is accredited. Either an associate’s degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in nursing is required, as well as a nursing diploma from a recognized RN school.

  • Get ready to take the test for nursing licensure.

  • Take and pass the registered nurse National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

  • In the state where you want to practice, get a license. By state, requirements change. Find out more about the RN licensing criteria in each state.

Getting a good education is the first step to becoming a nurse, whether you want to be a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN), or an administrator.

Every state, as well as the District of Columbia, demands that candidates for nursing licenses complete an authorized program.

The List of Steps on How to Become a Nurse in USA

  • Step 1: Choose a Nursing Career Path
  • Step 2: Earn a Degree
  • Step 3: Get Licensed
  • Step 4: Become a Lifelong Learner

Step 1: Choose a Nursing Career Path

You can pursue a career in nursing in a variety of ways, from being a staff nurse or certified nursing assistant (CNA) to eventually becoming a nurse administrator.

Consider your preferred work environment before deciding on a professional route.

For instance, RNs can be found working at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities, whereas CNAs frequently work in nursing homes. What kind of environment will most motivate you?

Additionally, think about the part you wish to play. A CNA or LPN/LVN may be a good fit for you if you wish to support medical personnel as a team.

A career as a registered nurse (RN) or advanced practice nurse is probably an excellent fit if you wish to manage other nurses and assistants or oversee systems.

Because healthcare has so many parts, nurses frequently focus on particular fields, such as geriatrics or critical care. Consider the type of education you’ll need to obtain that type of nursing if you have a desire for it.

Step 2: Earn a Degree

The type of nursing degree you’ll require will largely depend on the professional path you’re interested in taking.

Both academic and clinical training is part of nursing curricula. You can obtain practical experience, interact with nurses, and ask questions about actual situations by participating in clinical training.

You’ll also get the chance to see how a hospital operates thanks to the experience.

Determine how the nursing school will fit into your hectic life before selecting a program.

Will you have enough time to go to the campus if your program is there?

Numerous nursing bachelor’s and master’s degrees can be obtained online, with the practical requirements being fulfilled in a hospital in your neighborhood.

An associate’s degree program in nursing allows you to enter the workforce sooner because it takes less time to complete. The negative?

A nurse with a bachelor’s degree might be more likely to get hired by an employer because of their more extensive education.

However, many nurses who start out with ADNs go on to complete higher degrees, frequently with the aid of employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement.

Here are the types of nursing degrees available:

  • Nursing diplomas » Community colleges and vocational schools

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) » Community colleges

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) » Available at colleges and universities

  • Master of Science in Nursing (BSN) » Colleges and universities

  • Doctoral degrees (DNP, ND, PhD, DNSc) » Colleges and universities

Step 3: Get Licensed

After completing your study, you’ll need to sit for a test to prove your expertise in nursing.

Exams are a requirement for licensing, which is also required for nurses to practice.

Several of the licenses needed include;

Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Pass a state competency exam; earn a state license

Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) and graduate from a certificate program that has been accepted by the state to become licensed.

Registered nurse (RN)

Pass the NCLEX-RN, finish an ADN or BSN in nursing, and obtain a state licensure.

Nurse practitioner (NP)

Obtain an MSN; pass the NCLEX-RN and a national certification test given by an organization that certifies nurses, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners; achieve a state license

Nurse midwife (CNM)

Obtain an MSN, pass the NCLEX-RN, and, if necessary for licensure in your state, pass the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) national certification exam; achieve a state license

Nurse anesthetist (CNA)

Pass the NCLEX-RN and the certification exam given by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists; obtain a state licensure; complete an MSN, but a DNP if matriculating after January 1, 2022.

Step 4: Become a Lifelong Learner

The healthcare sector is continually changing as a result of new technologies and therapies.

Nurses who work in the front lines of healthcare must remain knowledgeable and educated in order to continue to be productive as their responsibilities change.

Nurses who approach their work as lifelong learners might take advantage of new responsibilities and opportunities as they present themselves.

  • Take continuing education courses: Every two years, on average, nurses must complete continuing education requirements. For prerequisites, check with your state’s nursing board.

  • Get certified: If you choose to focus on a particular nursing specialty, you might want to think about obtaining professional certification.

    This solidifies your dedication to the industry and shows potential employers your skill set.

  • Earn an advanced degree: You could become a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse midwife, or certified nurse anesthetist after earning a master’s degree.

Career Changes Within Nursing

Nursing is renowned for being both rewarding and difficult. Some nurses search for a career change after years of providing care at the bedside. Returning to school is frequently the best way to change things.

  • Specialize: With a master’s degree, you can specialize in something like midwifery.

    You can enroll in a certificate program, which takes less time to complete if an MSN is not what you’re searching for. There are many different specialty certificates available.

  • Teach: A career as a nurse educator may be a good fit for you if you enjoy mentoring newly licensed nurses in the workplace.

    Nurses with a master’s or doctoral degree are employed by colleges and universities to instruct nursing courses.

  • Research: Your qualification to work in medical research is a Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc). The nursing field might advance as a result of your work.

What do RNs do?

An RN’s responsibilities vary depending on where they work, how long they’ve been a nurse, and the specialty they specialize in.

Typically, RNs are responsible for both clinical and administrative duties.

Clinical Responsibilities of RNs

  • Evaluating the health and vital signs of patients.

  • Giving prescription drugs and treatments that doctors and other healthcare professionals have recommended.

  • Establishing and incorporating patient care plans.

  • Advising and working with other healthcare professionals.

  • Using and keeping track of medical equipment.

  • carrying out and interpreting diagnostic tests.

  • Patients’ and families’ education.

Administrative Responsibilities of RNs

  • keeping track of symptoms and medical histories.

  • directing and overseeing additional healthcare workers, such as LPNs, CNAs, and medical assistants.

Where do RNs work?

RNs are employed by hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, government agencies, and institutions of higher learning.

The majority of registered nurses (RNs) work in hospitals, according to the BLS report on RNs.

According to 2020 statistics, the following are the top workplaces for registered nurses:

  • Hospitals — 61%
  • Doctors’ offices, home health, and outpatient care — 18%
  • Nursing care facilities — 6%
  • Government — 5%
  • Education — 3%

Salary Scale

Finally, having talked about how to become a nurse in USA, let’s look at what your payments will be like. you may be wondering, what do nurses make? Salary varies by region, level of education, kind of job, experience, and other things.

According to the BLS, RNs in the US made an average salary of $75,330 in May 2021.

The greatest average salaries for registered nurses are earned by those who work for the government ($84,490), followed by those who work in hospitals ($76,840), ambulatory care services ($72,340), and nursing homes ($68,450), and education ($64,630).

According to the BLS occupational employment and compensation for registered nurses, these states offer the highest salaries for RNs:

  • California – $120,560

  • Hawaii – $104,830

  • Massachusetts – $96,250

  • Oregon – $96,230

  • Alaska – $95,270

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