How to Become a Registered Nurse in the U.S.
How to Become a Registered Nurse in the U.S.

How to Become a Registered Nurse in the U.S.

Nursing is a noble profession, and it’s not for everyone. But there’s a process if you still want to pursue this career opportunity and become a registered nurse in the U.S. We can help you understand the fiasco so that you can make an informed decision about becoming a registered nurse. 

Who is a Registered Nurse (RN)?

A registered nurse (RN) is a healthcare professional who has completed a nursing program and passed the national licensing exam, known as the NCLEX-RN, in many countries. 

R.N.s are crucial in patient care if you need to be made aware. They provide and coordinate treatment, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and offer support and advice to patients and their families. 

They have to work in various settings as part of their job description.

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Community health organizations

On top of everything, registered nurses must also adhere to strict professional standards and ethics, and they often specialize in areas such as pediatrics, emergency care, or oncology to address specific healthcare needs.

Common Types of Registered Nurses

Well, the “registered nurse” is a broad term that brings a lot of different job descriptions under the same umbrella. To help you understand the scope, let us outline the most common types of registered nurses in the U.S. To be eligible for direct hire nurse recruitment programs, you must first choose one of the following areas. 

Pediatric Nurses

Pediatric Nurses are dedicated to caring for infants, children, and adolescents, offering expertise in pediatric departments, clinics, or family practices. Their role encompasses developmental screenings, administering immunizations, managing the treatment of common childhood illnesses, and ensuring the health and well-being of the younger population.

E.R. Nurses

Emergency Room (E.R.) Nurses stand on the front lines of hospital emergency departments, providing critical care with speed and precision. These nurses are adept at handling the immediate assessment and stabilization of patients across various emergencies, making quick, life-saving decisions under pressure.

Oncology Nurses

Oncology Nurses bring compassion and specialized care to individuals battling cancer. They administer treatments such as chemotherapy, manage side effects, and offer much-needed emotional support to patients and their families in hospital oncology units or outpatient centers, playing a vital role in the patient’s cancer journey.

Critical Care Nurses

Critical Care Nurses operate in the high-stakes environment of intensive care units (ICUs), caring for patients with life-threatening conditions. Their duties include monitoring vital signs, managing life support equipment, and administering critical medications, requiring a high level of skill and training to navigate the complexities of urgent care.

Labor and Delivery Nurses

Labor and Delivery Nurses provide support and care during one of life’s most significant events: childbirth. Working in birthing centers or labor and delivery units, they monitor labor progress, assist with procedures like epidurals, and ensure both mothers and newborns receive the best possible care during and after delivery.

Mental Health Nurses

Mental Health Nurses specialize in the treatment and support of patients with mental health issues. Whether in psychiatric units or community settings, they offer counseling, medication management, and the development of comprehensive treatment plans, addressing the complex needs of those with mental health conditions.

Geriatric Nurses

Geriatric Nurses focus on older people, as you’d expect from the name already. ensuring their later years are lived with dignity and quality care. In settings like nursing homes or hospice care, they manage chronic health issues, provide wound care, assist with daily living activities, and cater to older adults’ unique health challenges.

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs)

As advanced practice registered nurses, family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) offer a broad range of family-focused healthcare services. They have the autonomy to perform physical examinations, prescribe medications, and manage overall patient care in various settings, often serving as primary healthcare providers in communities.

Navigating the Path to Becoming a Registered Nurse

So, you’ve decided what kind of nurse you want to become, and it’s time to start. There are a few critical steps to becoming a registered nurse in the U.S. Let us cover them in this section. 

Get Your Degree

So, you’ve embarked on a nursing career path in the U.S. The first step is enrolling in and completing an accredited nursing program.

For starters, you can go for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), which typically takes two years to complete. Or, you may go for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which takes four years to complete. 

As time goes by, more employers are opting for the BSN route. We highly recommend it if you’re planning on getting specialized certifications in your journey. 

Prepare for the NCLEX-RN Exam

Now that you’ve completed your nursing program and graduated successfully, it’s time to attend and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). You need it to practice in the country. 

If you need to be aware, this exam tests your knowledge and skills. If you pass, it’s verified that you’re an eligible candidate for effective nursing care at the entry-level.

Ideally, allocate at least a few months to study the available materials and attend mock tests before you appear on the real one. 

Get Your State License

Passing the NCLEX-RN is undoubtedly a significant milestone, but it’s not enough for you to start practicing. According to current regulations, you must also obtain a license in the state where you intend to work. 

In case you need to be aware, each state’s Board of Nursing has specific requirements beyond the NCLEX, such as background checks and additional documentation. It’s crucial to check these requirements well in advance and ensure all paperwork is accurately completed so you don’t have to face delays. 

Pursue Additional Training to Specialize

Nursing is a field that values continuous learning. After a few years in entry-level positions, many nurses specialize in pediatrics, oncology, or critical care. 

As you’d expect, these positions require additional certification. We recommend you opt for specialized training programs if you want to explore such options. Thankfully, there are more than enough available in the country. 

About author


"Dr. Kamal Kumar, MD, a medical expert, and valued contributor to Article Thirteen, offers insightful healthcare perspectives and expertise on our platform."
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