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The Skills and Education You Need to Get into Nursing

As one of, if not the most caring and meaningful job in the world, it’s no surprise that more and more people are thinking about getting into nursing.

As one of, if not the most caring and meaningful job in the world, it’s no surprise that more and more people are thinking about getting into nursing. Working as a nurse is not only financially rewarding, with nurses earning an average of $75k per year, but it also comes with a huge amount of emotional fulfilment and satisfaction as you do your job, knowing the huge impact that you are having on the lives of others. Nurses are absolutely vital to healthcare, and the need for good nurses has only been highlighted more by the events of the past year, with COVID-19 showing the world just how important nurses really are. 

If you are a naturally caring, selfless person with a desire to spend your life helping others as much as possible, you could certainly be a good fit for working in the nursing profession. Here’s what you need to know about training to become a nurse.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing

While getting an associate’s degree in nursing is a less-popular pathway these days with more and more employers looking to hire nurses who possess a BSN, it is still an ideal way to get into this career path if you want to start working quickly. In addition, many employers are willing to foot the bill to help licensed practical nurses with an ASN improve their qualifications and get the BSN. You can find ASN degree programs available with a wide range of options to choose from, whether you would like to take classes at a community college, attend local evening and weekend classes to fit studying around your other commitments or go for an ASN degree online, which offers more flexibility and the option to study from home most of the time. Once you have gained your associate’s degree, you will be required to sit and pass the NCLEX-PN exam for your state, which will then provide you with the appropriate licensure to start work as a licensed practical nurse.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Today, more and more employers are looking to improve their workforces by hiring nurses that are well-educated and have a lot of knowledge. As a result, an increasing number of employers are listing a BSN as the minimum requirement for nursing education when hiring. This has made this degree a more popular choice for those who are looking to get into the nursing profession. In the state of New York, any nurses who do not hold a BSN at the time of starting work should have earned this degree within ten years, due to the new BSN-in-ten rule. 

Nursing schools, colleges, universities and community colleges offer BSN programs. Since clinical placements are often required as part of the program (where you will get practical, hands-on experience working as a student nurse in a healthcare setting), it is ideal to choose a nursing school or college that works with healthcare employers in a convenient location. You will usually be on-campus for around half of the program, where classes will cover the fundamentals of nursing that are put into practice during clinical placements.

Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing

With COVID-19 changing the way that we study, many nursing degrees are moving online – but online-only degrees have been around a lot longer. An online BSN degree program is the ideal option for anybody who may struggle to find the time to fit attending classes and lectures around their current schedule. While you will usually still be required to undergo clinical placement training as part of these degree programs, you can do all the classroom learning from home, with some degree programs allowing you to decide the best days and times to do this, allowing for much more flexibility. Once you graduate, you will be required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam in your state to start working as a registered nurse.

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Realized that you are in the wrong career and want to train to become a nurse? The good news is that if you already hold a bachelor’s degree in a different subject, you can take advantage of ABSN programs to get your BSN in record time. These programs are typically very intensive and will usually be completed in two years or even less, providing students with the option to get their BSN in half the time that it would usually take. Different colleges and nursing schools have various rules for the types of degree that you already need to hold, and it is often credits-based. However, your previous degree does not typically have to be in a healthcare subject in order to qualify. As with campus-based BSN programs, you’ll also need to pass the NCLEX-RN before you can get your license to work as a registered nurse in your state.

Bridge Programs

If you’re already working as a nurse but do not have a BSN, you can take advantage of bridging programs. These degrees are designed for licensed practical nurses and other nurses who do not yet have a BSN and want to improve their education and become a registered nurse. They often take less time to complete compared to a traditional or online BSN program since they are designed to allow you to build on the nursing knowledge and experience that you have already gained.

Nursing Apprenticeships

If you are looking for an alternative to attending college with the end goal of becoming a nurse, an apprenticeship in nursing could be the ideal option for you. These programs will often provide you with a BSN or equivalent qualification; however, instead of going to college, you will be learning on the job. They will often include some classes at a community college or similar, while the rest of the time, you’re being paid to learn in a hands-on environment with professional mentors.

Master of Science in Nursing

Once you have your BSN, you will have several further opportunities to advance your nursing career. A master of science in nursing or MSN degree is the ideal choice for nurses who want to specialize in a certain area of healthcare, or are considering progressing into nurse management. MSN degrees are offered in a range of different formats; you can choose to study them in a traditional manner with campus-based classes, or opt for an online program. 

Many nurses who want to advance their careers while taking as little breaks as possible often find that online MSN programs are the ideal fit for them. They are designed to be flexible and easy to fit around busy working shifts as a registered nurse. Once you have gained an MSN, you can choose from a wide range of more advanced nursing jobs including working as a physician’s office nurse, in nurse management, working as a nurse on cruise ships, and specializing in the nursing of patients with certain conditions. You can often find specialized MSN degrees or choose from a range of elective modules that are designed to help you take your career in the direction that you want it to go. In addition, an MSN will create more opportunities for you in terms of further education.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

A Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP degree is one of the highest qualifications that you can earn in your nursing career. With this degree, you are set for a career in leading the direct care of patients in clinical settings. Since this degree is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) degree, you can also use this qualification to work as a nurse practitioner – an advanced nurse with the authority to administer care, diagnose health issues and prescribe medication. You can also use the DNP degree to go on to become a nurse-midwife, nurse executive, nurse informaticist, or a nurse educator. 

Since the degree is practice-based, it is centered around clinical care work rather than research. However, if you would like to attain a qualification of similar value that will prepare you for a research career in nursing, you could opt for a PhD in nursing instead. A DNP program will usually take around three to five years to complete, and there are both classroom-based and online programs available to choose from.

Family Nurse Practitioner Program

Once you have gained an MSN, you have more opportunities for furthering your career in the field of nursing. One of the most popular advanced career options for nurses is that of a family nurse practitioner. Family nurse practitioners are highly advanced nurses who are given authority to diagnose health conditions and prescribe medications without supervision in the majority of states. As a family nurse practitioner, you will be working with people of all ages. However, if you would like to focus on a certain patient demographic, you could work with older adults as an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, children as a pediatric nurse practitioner, infants as a neonatal nurse practitioner, or patients with mental health issues as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Click here to find out more about what’s involved with getting an MSN-FNP degree.

Skills You Need

Along with the education required to get into nursing, these caring professionals possess a unique set of skills. Nursing is not an easy profession, so it often appeals to people who are mentally and physically strong, able to think quickly on their feet, and always up for a new challenge. Some of the most important skills you’ll need as a nurse include:

Empathy and Compassion

As a nurse, you will often be working with people who are going through some of the worst times of their lives. You might be caring for patients who have just received a life-changing diagnosis or have been involved in an accident that has put them out of work for a long time. Your ability to empathize with your patients will certainly not go unnoticed. Good nurses are able to imagine how their patient must be feeling right now, and will treat them with the same compassion and kindness that they would like to receive if they were in the same situation. Many patients are going to be hurt, scared, or even angry, and the kindness and empathy of a nurse can often be all it takes to help them feel safe at the moment.

Quick-Thinking

In nursing, anything could happen at any moment. You could be having a relatively slow and uneventful day when something suddenly goes wrong with a patient’s vitals or a patient is rushed in after a terrible accident. You need to be quick-thinking and somebody who can adapt on your feet to drastic changes in situations without losing your cool. Nurses are often creative people who can come up with solutions to problems in just a few seconds.

Love of Learning

While working as a nurse, there is always going to be a new challenge and something new to learn just around the corner. Nurses who have been in the job for several years will tell you just how different things are now to how they were when they first started. The healthcare industry is one of the most rapidly evolving industries in the world, with new techniques, treatments, and technologies introduced on a regular basis, along with new diseases, like COVID-19, that nurses will need to learn how to adapt to and treat quickly. Nurses need to be constantly open to learning new things and updating their knowledge on a regular basis. In fact, many states require nurses to take an annual exam to ensure that they are up to speed.

Communication Skills

One of the most important skills that you will need to develop as a nurse is communication. In this line of work, you will be communicating with different people all day long. With patients, you’ll need to get good at explaining often complex health information to them in layman’s terms, while employing active listening skills to ensure that they have understood. And, while working as part of a multi-disciplinary healthcare team, good communication skills are vital when it comes to sharing crucial patient information with the other professionals who care for them.

Nursing is an excellent career choice, with many options to consider when it comes to entering the profession and even more opportunities for career progression afterward.