Becoming a Registered Nurse: How Long it Takes

Becoming a Nurse

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has been creating about two hundred thousand positions for newly registered nurses since 2016. This opportunity will last up to 2026. On the other hand, the United States currently faces a shortage of registered nurses. The deficit is expected to rise in the coming years due to the growing population seeking medical care.

Fortunately, this is good news if you have ever desired to pursue a degree as a registered nurse. The increased demand for RNs has improved job security and competitive wages. These benefits and a desire to serve patients of all ages will inspire you to take registered nurse programs. Understanding the duties of an RN and how long it takes to become one can help you decide if the course is best for you. Click here to learn more.

However, to learn how long it takes to become a registered nurse, you must first understand the steps you need to take, which include:

Steps to becoming a registered nurse

The steps may vary depending on your state and where you consider practicing. Ensure you do good research on the specific requirements. However, all states have some common conditions, which include:

Pursue an accredited nursing program: Taking specific degrees can qualify you as a registered nurse. Sometimes pursuing an associate’s degree in nursing is enough to become an RN, but most employers will consider you if you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). So BSN is an essential phase of becoming a registered nurse.

Pass National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX): After completing your degree, you need to do and pass the NCLEX. This exam tests your knowledge in the nursing field. If you fail the exam the first time, you have to wait for forty-five days before being allowed to re-sit the exam.

Apply for licensure: After passing your NCLEX, the last step to becoming a registered nurse is applying for licensure in the state you wish to practice. The licensure process varies between a few days to several weeks, depending on the backlog of applications and the state you are applying in.

How long will it take to become a registered nurse?

The degree you choose to do will highly impact your timeline. Depending on the specific nursing program you pursue, you can take sixteen months to four years to become a registered nurse.

The quickest way to become a registered nurse

You might think that pursuing an associate’s degree in nursing is the fastest way to become a registered nurse instead of taking a four-year BSN. An associate’s degree takes two years to complete, but most employers need you to earn a BSN to consider you for an RN position. Therefore, the quickest way to become an RN is to pursue an accelerated BSN program. It will allow you to earn your bachelor of science in nursing in less than four years.

Nevertheless, there are more programs you can choose from to become a registered nurse in the fastest way possible. They include:

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN): You can take the ABSN program if you have completed a bachelor’s degree in another field but want to switch from it to pursue nursing. These degrees vary, taking twelve to nineteen months and some up to two years. ABSN course is ideal if you enjoy studying in a fast-paced environment. You need to completely commit to an intense schedule in your classes, clinical, and studies. It may be challenging to work while doing this course, but you will have great opportunities in the nursing field after completion.

Nursing diploma and certificate programs: You can acquire nursing diplomas and certificates from specific hospitals and community colleges. These programs focus more on nursing-specific curriculums rather than extensive nursing degree curriculums. Depending on the institution you choose, it can take one to three years. Most employers seek nurses with academic degrees making nursing diplomas and certificate courses less common. But you will still qualify to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and acquire your RN license after these programs.

However, whichever registered nursing program you choose to pursue, ensure it will help you achieve your desired goals. Ensure you take courses that help you understand the nursing field properly and expose you to field practice.


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