Becoming a nurse takes from two to six years, depending on the educational level and job that you want. The first step to becoming a nurse is to decide which career path will work best for your situation. All nurses must meet educational requirements and pass various certification exams. One of the benefits of becoming a nurse is that you can work toward additional degrees later without significant difficulty.
LPNs, or Licensed Practical Nurses, are entry-level nurses. Getting an LPN license requires 18 to 24 months at a technical or community college before passing licensing exams. LPNs often work in doctors’ offices or hospitals. Floor nurses at hospitals can be either LPNs or RNs, though LPNs can have fewer patients in some states. Though the bulk of the work is similar, LPNs get paid considerably less than RNs for that work.
RNs are Registered Nurses. They have an additional two years of education and training beyond what LPNs must have. RNs also work in doctors’ offices and hospitals. In some states, RNs can see patients for some issues, such as allergy shots or medication refill appointments, without a doctor’s supervision. In most places, RNs are in high demand.
Nurses who wish to move beyond being an RN often will have to make the transition to academic from technical education. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the next step in the nursing ladder. People with a BSN can begin to work at the administrative level, coordinating other nurses and patient care.
These nurses have a master’s degree in nursing, often can see patients on their own, and in some states Nurse Practitioners can write prescriptions. These nurses have a significant amount of autonomy, generally working without the supervision of a physician and in control of their own patients and practices.