How Long Does It Take To Become A Nurse

How long does it take to become a nurse? The exact time it takes to be a nurse largely depends on the state and ones career goals. The least one can take to be a nurse is 2 to 4 years undergraduate education in nursing. If you would like to take advanced learning as a nurse, you may take about 6 to 8 years studying for graduate level qualifications. Nurses who practice in the United States should also pass the (NCLEX) National Council Licensure Examination so as to qualify to become registered nurses (RN). If you want to be a nurse, you can also consider taking up a 3 year diploma course or program which are mainly offered by hospitals although these programs are quite rare. To qualify for these programs, the applicant must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Education requirements

Undergraduate studies

Nursing education takes the same number of years as any undergraduate education about 2 to 4 years. A person who aspires to be a nurse may get a hospital nursing diploma or an associate, a bachelor, master or even a doctoral degree. To be an entry level registered nurse, the degree that you posses must be geared towards passing the NCLEX-RN test.

female doctor holding a notepad You can earn an associate degree through a 2 year community college or a 4 year course in a learning institution. Associate degree programs often take two or more years to complete and they involve class education and some extra practical training in a hospital setting. The students learn about nursing skills, health assessments and human anatomy.

A bachelor of science (BSN) in nursing will generally take about 4 years to complete. Although getting an associate degree may be a faster way of joining the profession, a bachelor of science provides comprehensive training and a competitive edge in the market while you are searching for a job. You may also increase your chances of career advancement. A BSN student studies pathophysiology and special health problems.

In addition, students who have acquired a baccalaureate degree in a different field can attend an entry level masters program in nursing known as an ELM (Entry Level Masters). This takes about 1 to 2 years to complete and graduates can apply for RN licensure.

Are there online nursing programs?

Nursing is a hands on profession, but that does not mean there are no online programs. In fact, there are so many bachelors’ degree programs to choose from. These distance online courses require you to complete your studies online and carry out your clinical experiences in your local area. If you are a qualified nurse already, there are other online programs available to you to further your studies. These are special programs that mainly target the working nurses and the most convenient ways of acquiring a nursing degree.

Accelerated degree programs can also be done online and can help people who are beginning a new career in nursing quickly get going (about 1 to 2 years). If you are student with a bachelor’s degree from a different field, you must have a good GPA and some experience in the healthcare sector.

Nurse job description

Nurse2The nursing profession, just like the whole healthcare profession, is ever changing. Nursing is becoming very complex as patient care is slowly moving from hospital settings and into outpatient and primary care settings. Nurses carry out different job duties during their shifts, taking care of patients and educating them about their conditions as well as establishing relationships with patients and members of their families. They create a compassionate environment by offering emotional, spiritual and psychological help to their patients, family and friends.

They help in promoting patients independence by putting in place patient care goals; teaching the patient, family and friends to be knowledgeable about a condition, medications and skills essential for self care. They also answer all the questions that a patient, friend or family may direct to them concerning patient care goals.

They make sure the patient receives quality care by following the set therapeutic standards, measuring the health improvements that have been set for a patient, making the adjustments that are needed, adhering to the hospital and nursing divisions, set standards of care that have been put up by the board of nursing, state nurse practice act or any other governing regulations.

They maintain the nursing supplies inventory by regularly checking stock to determine the inventory level, check supplies that may be needed, place orders, verify receipt of supplies, using the necessary equipment and supplies as expected to get job results. Maintain a professional and technical mastery by going for educational workshops, reading professional publications, creating personal networks and taking part in professional societies.

Important skills for nurses

• Compassionate and very caring
• Healthy and fit
• Good communication skills(oral and written)
• Ability to deal with emotional situations with a sober mind
• Observant

Work environment

Most nurses work in medical and surgical hospital environments. However, there are some nurses who work in physicians’ offices, nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, education facilities and government agencies. A lot of nurses spend most of their time walking and standing with lots of bending and lifting. Getting back stress is a professional hazard since most nurse’s lift and move patients and equipment. Nurses are always in close contact with their patients some of who may have infectious disease and they must adhere to very strict guidelines so that they can protect themselves.

In hospitals and surgery centers, nurses usually have shifts that keep rotating to ensure there is 24 hour patient care. The duration for each shift per week varies according to the needs of the employer. Many hospitals nurses work day and night shifts, during weekends and on holidays and they may be on call anytime. Those nurses employed in other areas such as educational facilities often work the regular hours from 9 to 5.


According to data collected by the BLS in May 2011, nurses earned an average salary of $69,100 annually. The salaries of most nurses ranged from $44,970 for the least paid to $96,630 for the highest paid.

Since the salary a nurse earns may vary depending on experience, education and geographical location, it is important to carry your personal survey in the areas you intent to work in, to determine the actual amount of pay.

Nurses are professionals who are heavily relied upon for their ability to critically think and solve problems and they are expected to have a high knowledge of social sciences, humanities and data analysis. Nurses are in high demand all over the country, but employers are seeking those who have advanced skills and good education qualifications.

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