There is no getting around it, there are licenses required for nursing careers and without them, you simply can’t enter this profession. You may choose to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP). All of these professions have varying levels of education and examinations that are required for licensure. RNs are the most common types of nurses. They have higher salaries and are trained for more responsibilities than licensed vocational nurses, but they don’t have to complete the same lengthy education as nurse practitioners. You may want to talk with experienced LVNs, RNs or nurse practitioners to get first-hand knowledge about each career so that you will have a better understanding of which choice might be right for you.
The first educational path to become licensed for work as a nurse is to get an associate’s degree from an accredited two-year nursing program, although this will limit your career options somewhat. You may also find diploma programs administered by hospitals, which take about three years. The most common educational path for RNs is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited four-year university. This path will ensure a wide range of career options upon completion. Many nurses have been quite successful without the BSN, though, so if you’re considering one of the other options, don’t get discouraged because you will still have a wide range of career opportunities.
Whichever educational path you take, you will need to pass a licensure exam. For example, you must take the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse to become licensed as a registered nurse. The NCLEX-RN tests nurses’ medical knowledge and abilities to provide for patient needs. In order to pass this exam you must be able to answer questions about maintaining a safe recuperative environment, about ensuring patient safety, reducing the risk of infection, taking preventative measures, fostering normalcy for trauma and disaster victims and restoring biochemical, mechanical and physical functions. You should expect the question styles to range from multiple choice answers to mathematical answers about proper dosages as well as questions relating to diagrams of the human body.
After becoming licensed as a nurse, you will also need to periodically renew your license, and depending on what state you live in you may also need to fulfill some continuing education requirements throughout your licensed career.
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