So you've heard the call, you saw the light, you made the decision -- whatever your reason, you have decided that nursing is the profession for you. Congratulations, you have a very rewarding career ahead of you. But now that you've made such a momentous step in your life, how do you put the grand plan into action. One of the most popular and attainable ways to become a nurse is by going to school for your associate's degree.
Since you have decided to further your education, you will need to take a look at your previous studies. Did you do well in high school? Did you graduate? Some programs will waive certain subjects like algebra and chemistry if you took and passed them with a high grade in high school. Most associates degrees in nursing will take between 2 and 3 years to complete, depending on what, if any, credits you are coming in with, and the intensity of your course load. Some choose to get their associates while keeping a full time job, to offset the costs. In this case, expect at least 3 years, but no debt.
An up and coming way to earn an associates degree these days is online. There are many different colleges and universities now offering a nursing degree over the internet. When researching schools, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website and use the links they have to whichever states you'd like to apply to school in. And if choosing the online route, be sure that the entire degree is offered through online courses and not just some of the more basic classes. It would not be fun to do a year's worth of classes online with the University of Alaska and then discover that all of the remaining classes have to be taken in person, on campus. Hope you like the cold!
Once you have applied and been accepted to a school, then comes the real work. You will be put through classroom theory, lab work, clinical experiences, direct patient care experiences and take classes in everything from anatomy to psychology. The classes are pretty grueling and require you to do more than just show up. Nursing school is what separates the dreamers from the achievers. You have to want to be there, you have to study, and you have to perform. But once you have finished that last test, you get to enter the world with a higher level of education, a brighter future, and a more promising pay scale.
After achieving an associates degree, you will need to pass a national licensing examination, called the National Council Licensure Examination, or the NCLEX-RN. Upon passing this, you will officially have the title of RN, Registered Nurse. Now that you hold the title, all that remains is finding a job. The healthcare industry is still on the rise and is expected to boom in the next 4-7 years -- perfect timing for when you graduate with your newly acquired associates degree in nursing.