There is nothing more noble than the desire to become a nurse. It is a testament to your hardworking, compassionate, and giving soul.
But no matter how much you want something, going for it can feel daunting when you do not know where to start.
Luckily, we are here to help by laying out this guide to take you through all the steps of launching a nursing career, from your initial education to job hunting – as well as other tips that will aid in your journey.
What seems like a far-away dream now can soon become your career
1. Necessary Educational Roots
There is no such thing as becoming a nurse without a lengthy amount of schooling. This is why we have created this step-by-step list of schooling stages required to start a career as a nurse:
• A high school diploma or alternative equivalent, such as a GED
• Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, whether earned through traditional means or an accelerated program
• Master of Science in nursing
Depending on what field you are going into, this could take anywhere from two to four years or even longer. Be proactive about coursework and know all the classes you must complete beforehand.
You will also have resources to help you with this, such as NCLEX Review and Remediation.
2. Pass Your Exam
All of the coursework you go through will accumulate with a final exam you must pass in order to officially become a licensed nurse. The most common exam given is the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX.
Here are some tips to help you pass this test the first time.
• Form study groups
• Take advantage of online resources
• Learn the material through practice instead of just memorizing
• Focus especially on diagnosis, triage, and the subtle differences between similar conditions
• Start studying months in advance with breaks in between – do not cram the night before
3. Get Licensed
The act of completing your program alone is not enough to be licensed. You are going to have to apply for licensure, a process that takes around a month to complete.
This is not a one-time process. You will need to have your license renewed every two years.
You cannot be lax with this because if your license has expired, you cannot legally practice. Repercussions could range from fines to loss of career to even legal consequences.
4. Choose a Specialty
The term “nursing career” can take on many different meanings. Most nurses specialize in a certain type of care. This includes oncology, pediatric care, critical care, cardiology, and much more.
You need to find your specialization to avoid unnecessary coursework and to better plan for your future.
To find your niche, talk to people from each specialization you are interested in. Ask them questions about what a day in their life looks like, and see if that could be a good fit for you.
If you want to land your dream job, you are going to have to bolster your resume.
When looking at who to hire, employers want to know you have been tested to some capacity. Volunteering also shows initiative and passion for the field.
Most medical facilities seek volunteer workers year-round, so you will not have to look very hard. Here are some ideas to get you started:
• Your local hospital
• Assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
• Health events
• Homeless shelters
On Your Way to Your Dream Career
A nursing career does not happen overnight, and it is no small undertaking. However, you can make it much easier to get there if you have a plan of action from the start.
Start with these five steps, and you will be off to a great start.