How to Become a Registered Nurse

Updated on January 15, 2024

With over 3 million active registered nurses nationwide, registered nurses constitute the largest healthcare occupation in the U.S. Still, projections point to over 195,000 new RN openings annually over the next decade due to aging populations and elevated demand. This continuous need means abundant, rewarding registered nursing jobs for dedicated graduates from accredited programs. After passing rigorous licensing exams, aspiring registered nurses can leverage compassion, patient advocacy abilities, organizational skills, and medical knowledge to deliver around-the-clock supportive treatments, helping stabilize and heal individuals in vulnerable states across diverse clinical settings.

What Does a Registered Nurse Do?

Registered nurses (RNs) deliver vital, round-the-clock supportive treatments and monitor patients suffering issues from chronic conditions to traumatic injuries, including:

RNs provide critical holistic care bridging illness onset through recovery stages – establishing trusted relationships along the way.

Specialized Nursing Education Required

Those seeking RN roles must earn either:

Both diplomas qualify graduates to sit for RN licensing examinations before legally practicing. Ambitious learners manage accelerated RN-to-BSN bridge completion, upgrading skills and pay.

Clinical practicums across nursing specialties like pediatrics, oncology, or emergency give vital experience. Programs connected to large teaching hospitals facilitate rotations, seeing diverse issues and mentors.

Earning RN Licensure

All states mandate nurses pass national plus state-specific competency testing before independently handling patients. Two key steps:

Pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX)

This comprehensive RN assessment evaluates clinical judgment through challenging questions on care coordination, safety, nursing ethics, and interventions.

Become Licensed In-State

Submitting transcripts and applications to State Boards of Nursing leads to approved registration legally required for hire across healthcare settings after passing NCLEX.

Finding RN Positions

Insatiable demand exists for RNs within:

Understanding Key RN Responsibilities

Core nursing activities depend upon specialty environments but center on:

RN duties require compassion, organization, attention to detail, science acumen, and grace under pressure.

Career Advancement Prospects

Bedside nursing enables opportunities to specialize, such as:

Nurses pursuing academia pursue Master/Ph.D. degrees, becoming faculty publishing noted research or deans guiding curriculum/programs.

Income Outlook for RNs

Years of ExperienceAverage Salary (USD)
Less than 1 year$50,000 – $60,000
1-4 years$55,000 – $65,000
5-9 years$60,000 – $70,000
10-19 years$65,000 – $75,000
20+ years$70,000 – $80,000+

Networking Creates Community

Tight-knit state/national RN guilds foster invaluable idea exchanges through:

Connections translate into clinical collaborations, research coauthorships, and priceless mentorships furthering expertise.

In summary, few careers blend such immense professional purpose and advancement potential as registered nursing. Launch life-altering RN roles through accredited degree programs, license testing, and impactful specialty placements, bettering patient lives for generations.