The field of nursing offers a wide range of options for those looking to enter the career, depending on their level of experience, education and personal interests. In order to begin pursuing a nursing career, you must have a high school diploma or a GED. A strong background in science, mathematics and health is beneficial. Taking advanced courses in high school will better prepare a prospective nurse and is a solid foundation for future success. Some colleges will require completing certain general education requirements before allowing a student to apply for a nursing program.
Nursing Education Options
Associate Degree in Nursing
A professional can qualify for some entry level nursing positions by completing an associate's degree in nursing. Coursework includes classes in anatomy, nutrition, chemistry, nursing and microbiology, as well as general liberal arts classes. Graduates are prepared for entry-level nursing positions in hospitals and clinics and are able to acquire practical experience that will help them in further career development. This is the quickest way to enter into the nursing field and takes between two and three years.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
A student pursuing a career as a nurse can complete a bachelor's of science in nursing within four to five years at an accredited college or university. A student that has already earned an associate's degree in this field can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program, which takes two to three years to complete. For students that have a bachelor's degree in another field of study, there are an accelerated nursing programs available. Students can apply their credit hours from their general studies courses from their first degree to the BSN. They can often earn a bachelor's of science in nursing within one to two years.
Upon graduation, a prospective nurse will apply for a nursing license and will be required to take the National Council Licensure Examination. The exam addresses a variety of different issues that a nurse will deal with through the course of their career.