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How To Become a Nurse - What You Need To Become a Nurse

Updated on April 26, 2011

There is a lot of information out there on how to become a nurse but it seems to be all over the place. Hopefully, you will find what you need in this article without having to go anywhere else.

There are 3 levels of nurses in the United States; the Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), the Registered Nurse (RN) and the Nursing Practitioner (NP). An LVN attends a private technical school for a maximum of 18 months. Once they are licensed they are always supervised by an RN. An RN attends a 2-year college or a university where they earn an associate’s degree. An RN may also attend a 4-year university and get a Bachelors of Science and Nursing (BSN). An NP has a master’s degree in nursing he or she would have started with a BSN and then taken two more years of courses to earn his/her degree.

What Do You Need to Get into Nursing School

If you plan to go to nursing school, you will need a high school diploma. You also should have taken some science courses, especially anatomy and physiology. Courses you will be expected to take at nursing school will include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, nutrition and chemistry. You also need a good grasp of the English language.

After college or university, nurses must be certified. Among the test they have to write are the NCLEX-RN and the NCLEX-PN. These will be reviewed by organizations such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Regardless of which level they study to, nurses are perform basically the same functions; they treat and educate patients, advise on courses of treatment and provide emotional support to patients and their families, they record patient’s medical histories, they perform diagnostic tests and operate medical machinery, they give treatment and medication to patients, and they help with patient follow-up.

Job Prospects for Nurses

The job prospects for nurses are good. According to the Bureau of Labor, there are currently 2.5 million registered nurses in the United States with the probability of another 500,000 expected to be created until 2016. The average salary for nurses is $65,130; with the highest paying jobs being ones provided by employment services.

Being a nurse can be one of the most rewarding careers you can have. It is not an easy job and requires a lot of strength and stamina. Many nurses complain that they are not given enough respect by some doctors and by some patients. However, there are many benefits to being a nurse including knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life and possibly saving that life.


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  • NicktheNurse profile image

    NicktheNurse 5 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

    Great article. I also agree with Dubuquedogtrainer. You need a lot of stamina and the ability to think clearly and recognize multiple and changing priorities as a nurse. I voted "up" your hub. Excellent information.

  • Dubuquedogtrainer profile image

    Dubuquedogtrainer 5 years ago from Dubuque, Iowa

    What you need to be a nurse is a lot of stamina and a commitment to take care of your own health, which can be quite challenging given the culture of "health" care. It has not changed in the almost 35 years that I have been a registered nurse. When you're young, you can work long hours without breaks and no vacations, but beware - you must take care of yourself if you want to live to old age without a lot a lot of health problems.

    Another thing you need is a genuine desire to help people, because if you don't really want to be a nurse and you go into it for job security or a good income (which is a remarkably big change from when I was working as a nurse) you will reach burnout rather quickly. The one thing that I enjoyed about nursing is the opportunity to keep learning - so if you go into nursing, go to a good school and look for a progressive institution to work in with opportunities to continue learning!

    You also need thick skin because nurses and other healthcare workers, including physicians can be downright nasty to each other.

    So vow to take care of yourself, go into nursing for the right reasons and continue learning!

  • AEvans profile image

    Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

    You are certainly thorough and I commend you!! I am an RN with a BSN of course the need for nurses will always be there and although we are on a hiring freeze due to this ridiculous economy, I believe that the market will re-open very soon. Many of us are pulling doubles and are being stretched due to the economy and it is getting old. I love taking care of people, well I believe you can see that based on what I write. Thank you again for a well written hub! :)

  • profile image

    Crazdwriter 8 years ago

    One of my best friends is going through a fast-paced type school to become a nurse and she LOVES IT! Plus she gets to do hands on like stick people with needles and things lol. she likes that part too. I have volunteered to be a guinea pig for her since I am not afraid of needles and all. GREAT hub, UW. You picked a great topic to write on and have tons of great information.

  • Queen of the Lint profile image

    Queen of the Lint 8 years ago from The Laundry Room

    My cousin became a nurse, and she was the one we would have voted most likely not to be a nurse as a child! She hated the sight of blood, ran away at any injury and ran crying to her mother at every paper cut. But she grew out of that is is really good at nursing!