Today, one can become a nurse through more ways than were available then in the traditional nursing schools and programs. Accelerated and short-term nursing programs are increasingly being offered nationwide. I'm writing about this because I'm thinking of making a career change. Here's my research, for anybody else who comes across my site, about the fastest way to become a nurse.
1. Take diploma or vocational nursing programs. Community schools offer courses that lead to licensed vocational nursing (LVN) or licensed practical nursing (LPN) jobs. The program usually takes between 1 and 2 years which involves training students on hands-on and practical care for patients who are generally stable. The actual length that a student finishes the program largely depends on whether the student is attending school fulltime or part-time. To become licensed, a student who has completed the program must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX – PN).
2. Become a registered nurse through an associate degree program. Most community colleges around the country offer the 2-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). (Source: How long is nursing school for RN?) By far, this is the shortest route to becoming an RN. Your best bet would be to visit a college in your community and seek the guidance of a nursing college advisor. The advisor will be able to provide you with important information regarding prerequisite courses, SAT or ACT percentile required, and length of time to finish the degree. You might also want to know whether the program offered by the college will earn you credits to a bachelor’s degree in nursing, should you decide to pursue one.
3. Enrol in a 12- to 18-month accelerated BSN if you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. A word of caution though; this accelerated baccalaureate program caters to courses on a full-time basis only. The education and learning process is highly focused and rather intense compared to the more traditional four-year BSN course. Even the program’s admission standards are somewhat higher than usual; you have to submit yourself and hurdle a comprehensive pre-screening procedure prior to your acceptance in the program. Make sure you possess at least a 3.0 GPA, which is typically required by schools. Some schools and learning institutions might require higher GPA than 3.0
On a positive note, graduates of accelerated programs are highly preferred by many employers because of their enhanced personalities and broad background. Because of their previous experiences, they generally exhibit more maturity and compassion, and unusually high level of motivation. They are also more controlled under nerve-wracking situations and more tolerant of the many issues that are present in the workplace.
4. Take a four-semester generic master’s degree program. With greater concentration on research and theory, this program generally provides training to both nursing and non-nursing degree holders. In addition, the program trains and grooms them to become advanced practice nurses or APNs. The whole program takes an average of 4 semesters which includes 1 semester of clinical internship. If you are asking about how many years of college to be a nurse, remember that you don't have to do a bachelor's or master's degree to be an RN. All you need is a 2 year nursing degree but the additional education will help you market yourself in the field.
5. Enrol in online nursing programs. Online programs make it possible for you to become a nurse faster or slower than others, depending on how you pace with your studies. Registered nurse programs have not only become shorter and quicker to finish. They have also become more economical and accessible.
Nursing programs available online include Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) for paramedics and practical or vocational nurses, RN-to-BSN for graduates of associate degree in nursing, and higher nursing programs, such as Master of Science in Nursing or Nursing Doctorate. Online programs also make it possible for those currently employed to study in their own time and pace.
Before you can practice the nursing profession, you need to review for, and pass the National Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses or NCLEX-RN. In the case of LPNs, they take the corresponding licensure as mentioned earlier. Qualification and requirements vary by state; it is best to inquire from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) – the administering body.
Nurses work in various environs, like hospitals, medical facilities, doctor’s private clinics, schools, homes for the elderly, medical and healthcare centres, and government agencies.
Undoubtedly, nursing ranks among the highly stressful occupations anywhere in the world, yet it also offers fulfilling rewards economically and professionally. There is great respect for the profession, its demand increases steadily, and nurses earn a handsome salary.