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How to Become a Registered Nurse

Updated on July 24, 2014

Registered Nurses are important members of a health care team and hold supervisory position in any healthcare facility. They supervise nursing aides, licensed practical nurses and other healthcare support staffs in a facility. RN Training program prepares them for entry-level nursing position and provides them required competencies in the nursing field. They receive Registered Nurse credential once they pass NCLEX-RN exam, and certified as an RN with a Certification. They receive eligibility to enter the profession and work in a variety of healthcare setting once they receive a Licensure from the Board of Nursing after completing board’s specific requirements.

Registered Nurse
Registered Nurse | Source

Becoming an RN

There is more than one stream to become an RN. The typical procedure and approved path that can offer you an RN diploma, certificate or degree include a) Diploma in Nursing, b) Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), and 3) Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN). The training duration for different RN streams differs from the others. The four years baccalaureate degree program has extensive clinical training than Diploma or ADN program. The employers also prefer nurses with bachelor's degree for working in the facilities. The nurses holding BSN also receive responsible position, higher salary, and supervisory positions. BSN is also ideal for career advancement because bachelor degree is prerequisite for many Masters, speciality, and doctorate programs.

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Training Curriculum

All three-paths that lead to RN qualification have separate training length. The certificate courses for Diploma and Associate Degree in Nursing have training duration of 2 to three years, whereas Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing is four years programs. The RN training curriculum comprises of classroom instructions and clinical hands-on experience. The course curriculum for the training program includes Maternal/Child Nursing, Nutrition, Psychology, Geriatric Nursing, chemistry, Mental Health Nursing, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical and Surgical Nursing, Microbiology, Nursing Research, communication, and additional subjects. The successful completion of the training program provides eligibility to appear in the NCLEX-RN exam, a necessity for earning RN credential and Certification. The courses can be completed by enrolling in community colleges, private and public schools, technical institutes, hospitals, or universities.

Nursing Training
Nursing Training | Source

RN Exam

The Board of Nursing measures the competencies of entry-level registered nurses for performing competent nursing care and safeguarding public health through NCLEX-RN exam. The exam is developed by NCSBN and administered by a nationally recognized testing agency Pearson VUE. However, there are some necessities that must be completed by the applicants before their exam is scheduled.

Exam Eligibility Requirements

The first step to gain the exam eligibility requires registering with Board of Nursing/Regulatory Body and applying for Licensure. The next step requires applying to Pearson VUE for an Authorization to Test (ATT), and registering with the testing agency for scheduling the Certification exam. The applicant will also need to pay $200 registering fees. Once these steps are completed, the Pearson VUE will provide you Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration and Authorization to Test. The Board will also provide you with a letter of eligibility.

Examination Process

NCLEX - RN Exam is computerized adaptive testing (CAT) and consists of 265 multiple choice and alternate formats questions. The candidates get six hours to complete their exam. The allotted time also also include tutorial, breaks, and sample questions. The candidates must answer minimum 75 questions and meet the passing standard to pass the exam.

The exam results are not released at the exam centres, but mailed by the BON/RB to the candidates within six weeks of the examination completion. The candidates, who do not receive the test report within the stipulated time may contact or enquire the Board of Nursing/ Regulatory Body for the test reports. Few states have also introduced the quick results services that provide the test results within 48-business hours. However, these services are not available to candidates who have applied for Licensure/Registration in Canada.

RN Practice Test

RN Sample Tests are developed to assist nursing students pass their NCLEX exam. The students, who are unsure of their abilities to pass the actual exam can sit for the Practice Test and evaluate their competencies on various testing subjects and questions. Their correct answers for the practice test questions also reflect candidate’s better preparation for the NECLEX test. The sample tests have same features as actual NCLEX-RN exam and testing process is also similar to the real test. The test questions are also identical, multi responses and alternate mode types. The passing standards and scores are also similar to original test standards.


The Sample Tests are highly beneficial to students, preparing for the NCLEX exam because the practice test questions provide them an opportunity to find the kind of questions they will receive during NCLEX exam. The testing process also helps candidates understand what to expect from the actual exam and how these tests are conducted. The practice test scores and answer sheets show candidate’s performance level, fields where they lack and require further improvement.

Registered Nurses Work Duties

The registered nurses who successfully graduates from the training program, pass the Certification test , and earn Certification and Licensure can work in nursing homes, hospitals, speciality units, and emergency departments, home of the patients, physician’s office, schools, intensive care and surgical unit. Their primary work duties include counselling patients, families, and public on preventive health care issues, administering treatments, recording patient’s medical history, preparing care chart plans, observe patients, and record their conditions and improvements, operate medical equipments, help in patient’s rehabilitation, assist in performing diagnostic test and analyze reports, assist doctors and physicians in carrying out various care procedures and consult with them.

An RN can also become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or specialty nurse through masters or graduation programs in nursing. The higher level degrees and certification also boost their career opportunities, work positions, and salaries.

RN Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey report, the job outlook of RNs from 2012 to 2022 is encouraging and expected to grow by 19 percent or 526,800 new registered nurses will be required to execute nursing duties and responsibilities. In the same period, according to BLS, the employments of advance practice registered nurses (APRN), consisting of nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anaesthetists will increase by 31 per cent.


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