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Becoming a Registered Nurse Ė FAQs

            by Greg Cryns


When youíre considering a career in nursing, you may have many questions about the profession.  Here are a few common questions and answers to help you make your decision and understand the profession a little better.


            What is an RN?  An RN is a registered nurse.  That means they are professionally licensed to practice nursing in their state.  They work in various healthcare settings including hospitals, doctorís offices, home healthcare agencies, the military, and schools.


            Do you have to have a degree to become an RN?  You must earn either an associateís degree or a bachelorís degree to become a registered nurse.  You can also earn a masterís degree and become an advanced practice nurse.


            What does an RN do?   RNs fill a variety of roles in the healthcare setting.  The observe and assess patients, administer medications, perform duties assigned by doctorís orders, and provide patient education.


            Can nurses specialize?  Many nurses earn certificates in specialty areas such as pediatric nursing, HIV/AIDS nursing, or geriatric nursing.  These can be earned through degree programs as well as through continuing education.  Most of the special certificates require an exam as well as minimum number of hours of coursework and field practice.


            Can I earn my RN online?  Because of the hands-on nature of nursing, itís not possible to earn your initial education on the internet.  While you may be able to take some online coursework, youíll be required to take courses that teach practical skills.  However if you have an associateís degree and are a registered nurse, there are online programs that will help you to earn a bachelorís degree.  If you have a BSN, you can earn your masterís degree online as well.


            Can I go to school part-time?  Many programs will allow you to take coursework part-time while youíre working toward a nursing degree.  This will allow you to work while youíre receiving your training.  However, at the end of your nursing school education youíll have to complete rotations and that can make it hard to work a job as well.


            How much money does an RN make?  The salary for an RN can vary widely.  But the average salary is between $40-$60K.  In addition, youíll also be provided the opportunity to have healthcare and retirement benefits.  Advanced practice nurses often make six figure salaries.


            What is the first step if Iím interested in becoming an RN?  If youíre interested in this rewarding career, you should first contact your local nursing schools to find out what you need to do to be accepted into their program.  You may need to take some prerequisite courses, fill out applications, and schedule interviews.  You should also find out about the cost of tuition and financial aid opportunities.





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