By ThriveAP Intern and Aspiring Nurse Caitlin Webb
Knowing what you want to do with your life and if you’re meant to do it are some of life’s more complicated questions. When you finally realize what you want to spend your life doing, it may seem too late. What is so fantastic about the nursing field is that there are several different paths to get you to where you want to be no matter your age or education level. While some paths take more time than others, they all get you to a very similar desired destination, becoming a registered nurse.
1. The Straight and Narrow Path
Fr college aged students that know they wish to become a nurse before or in the first year of college, applying to a four year college’s nursing program is a fitting option. This path starts by either applying to a college and their nursing program, or filing a petition to change your major if you are already attending college. This may require changing the specific school within the college and should be completed throughout the first year of attending. For example, if you were originally accepted to a large university as a business major, which means you are attending the business school and later with to become a nursing major, you have to apply to the nursing school and be accepted before changing majors.
Nursing programs typically ask for a minimum GPA in all classes taken and specifically looks at science courses asking for grades of B or above. The ned result of the program is that you graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the college in which you completed the program at, as well as the program also gives you the opportunity to take the NCLEX exam, in which after passing gives you the license to work as an RN in your designated state.
2. The Scenic Route
For those who have more complicated lives, or are not completely sure if they want to become nurses, the option to gradually earn a BSN may be more fitting. This can be done by first obtaining a certificate to be a CNA, or certified nursing assistant. Be becoming a CNA, one can get their foot in the door of the world of nursing. They can observe what higher level nurses do and gain experience. After becoming a CNA, a nurse can either go for an RN degree or become an LPN, a licensed practical nurse. Both of these routes require additional clinical hours and coursework and give a greater level of responsibility.
From an LPN, one can enter an associate degree program to obtain an RN degree. Once you graduate with an associate’s degree in nursing you may take the NCLEX and get an RN license. Many jobs require RNs to have a BSN degree. If this is the case in your area, there are several programs that allow nurses with associate degrees to gain a bachelor’s degree by completing additional coursework.
3. The Road Less Traveled
It is difficult to know what you want to do regarding your career in the four years that college offers. Some students may realize half way through their college careers or five years after they’ve graduated, that their major is no longer fitting for them. Students who decide they want to become nurses in this manner can apply for post-bachelor nursing programs. These programs are specifically designed for students who already have complete a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.
This route consists of completing prerequisite courses for the program and meeting the GPA cutoff. Most programs require a GPA of 3.0 of better. Depending on the program, a post-bachelor’s nursing degree takes about 11 to 18 months to complete, resulting in a BSN and the opportunity to take the NCLEX. While this takes more time than a traditional BSN from a four year university, it can allow one to join the nursing profession to obtain a degree in another discipline that may be applicable to a nursing career.
No matter what path you choose to take or how long that path may take you to finish, each one offers different experiences that will shape you into the nurse you one day will become.
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