In order to become a registered nurse, you must graduate from high
school, attend an accredited nursing school and then pass a licensing
examination that is given by the state in which you are going to practice
nursing. You cannot sit for the licensing examination without having
first graduated from a school of nursing.
People can prepare for Registered Nurse (RN) licensure in any one of
three kinds of programs. There are advantages to
each type of program. You must evaluate many different factors in order
to decide which program best meets your needs –cost, length of
the program, and long-term career goals - are among the most important
things to consider.
This is typically a 4-year program of study affiliated with a college
or university. This type of program combines an almost equal amount
of liberal arts education with nursing education and leads to a bachelor
of science degree in nursing. This educational program prepares the
nurse to work in a variety of health care settings – acute care
hospital, long term care, community health, industry and clinics. You
must have a bachelor’s degree if one of your long-term goals is
to continue on for post-graduate education (Master’s degree or
Doctorate degree) in nursing.
A diploma program is usually based in a hospital setting as opposed
to a university/college setting. The length of the program is generally
3 years, with the primary focus being the clinical nursing courses and
experience. Some diploma programs are affiliated with a local college
or university where you can enroll in courses that can eventually lead
to a bachelor’s degree.
This type of nursing preparation is generally affiliated with a junior,
technical or community college. There is some liberal arts education
combined with the nursing course of study. The whole program is completed
in a 2-year period of time, leading to an associates degree in nursing.
If you attend and complete either a diploma or an associate degree
program, you can, at any time, apply to and attend a college or university
nursing program and take all of the additional courses necessary to
obtain a bachelor degree. A growing number of colleges and universities
now offer a baccalaureate completion program that is designed specifically
for RNs with diploma and associate degrees who wish to earn a baccalaureate
degree. These programs generally require an additional 2 years of study.
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