One of the concerns that prevent a number of individuals who would make excellent nurses from pursuing this career is the perception that it takes a long time to become a nurse. There are, however, some methods of becoming a qualified nurse that are faster than others. Although there is not really any one fastest way to a nursing career, there are certain shortcuts and alternative options to consider.
If your aim is simply to enter the health care professional, the fastest way to achieve this is by becoming a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, to begin with. This is one of the least intensive nursing careers to pursue and does not require a great deal of training in order to achieve. The training that you will receive has two main aims:
- It should be aimed at preparing you for the basics of being a nurse in a nursing environment
- It should also prepare you to take the exam that will allow you to work as a CNA in an actual health care setting once you have graduated from the program
The programs are very short, taking about 4 to 6 months in order to complete them. Basically with this qualification you will be able to enter the stable and ever expanding healthcare profession almost overnight. The three main places where you are likely to find training programs for CNAs are:
- Accredited trade schools
- Technical schools
- Community colleges
The school must be properly approved and accredited. This is because, in order to become a CNA officially, you must take the CNA examination with your state board of nursing, but, before you will be allowed to do that, you will need to first present your state board of nursing with a certificate from your school. If the school is not accredited you will not be allowed to write the exam. Passing the exam will allow you to register as a CNA and look for work in that capacity.
The Fastest Way To Become A Licensed Vocational Nurse
There is a level of nursing in between becoming a CNA and an RN (registered nurse). Depending on which state you live you will be known either as an LVN (licensed vocational nurse) or LPN (licensed practical nurse) if you choose to pursue this level of education in nursing. It is a lot faster to become an LPN than to become an RN, so many students choose this course of action in order to get into the industry as quickly as possible. As an LPN or LVN you will be required to work under the supervision of an RN at all times. Although you will be allowed to do more than a CNA in the healthcare setting, you will still be restricted to less complex tasks, and you will have very little independence. Some of the common tasks that an LPN is allowed to perform are:
- Taking a patient’s temperature
- Drawing a patient’s blood
- Measuring a patient’s blood pressure
However it is a very popular option with many nurses as it gains you access to the nursing industry in about a year (excluding the time needed to take the exam and become licensed) and you will then be in an excellent position to take an LPN to RN course which may be faster than attempting to qualify as an RN right off the bat. If you want to be an LPN as your end goal, it will only take one year to reach that aim.
The Fastest Way To Earn An Associate Degree In Nursing Or A Bachelor Of Science In Nursing
Although it definitely easier to become a CNA or an LPN than to become an RN, there are a number of limitations that come with those jobs that will prevent you from reaching your full potential in the nursing field. As a result of this many nurses choose to use those qualifications as stepping stones rather than as their end goal in their careers within the health care industry.
The most common nursing qualification that people strive towards is their RN license. The quickest way to become a registered nurse can be described in the following way:
Firstly you need to note the length of time it takes to complete various nursing programs.
- A bachelor’s degree takes four years of full-time study – this degree can be earned far more quickly if you choose to attend summer classes which will cut down the amount of time spent from about 4 years to 2 ½ or 3 years (because this is the degree that results in the highest level of job opportunities and career advancement options, it is one of the more popular nursing qualifications); This degree provides a more comprehensive education and establishes the groundwork for advanced education to be used for specialized work.
- A nursing diploma program takes three years of full-time study: This is a combination of clinical and classroom instruction.
- An associate’s degree takes two years of full-time study – however it is interesting to note that there are a number of technical schools and colleges that offer this program in accelerated format through which you will be able to complete your associate’s degree in less than a year and a half (there are not many schools like this, but they do exist if you take the time to look for them); This has a stronger focus on technical skills and less on theory.
Consequently, if you are impatient to become a nurse and want to do it in the fastest way possible, it is better to consider doing a diploma or associate’s degree.
Take note of any prerequisite courses that the school you are interested in may require. If you are not aware of the prerequisite courses ahead of time, and if you have not completed them, this could extend the length of your study program by 2 years. The fastest way to a nursing career is to be aware of any prerequisites of this kind. Common prerequisite courses for nursing degrees include:
Once you have completed your program you will need to take the licensing examination. In order to fast track your qualifications ensure that you apply for this as soon as possible after graduating from your program. To save time you also need to be well aware in advance of any other requirements that your state may have in order to become a nurse. There may be other tests and background checks that you will need to complete before you will be allowed to practice as a nurse.
The above mentioned course of action is for students who do not have any qualifications from university at all and basically need to start from scratch. However if you already have a degree of some kind in nursing or in a field related to nursing or even in fields that are completely unrelated to nursing you may be eligible for an accelerated nursing program, which is definitely one of the fastest ways to a nursing career. Two of the most common options here are:
- Bachelor-to-RN programs
- Master-to-RN programs
What is ideal about these programs is that they allow you to become a nurse in 12 to 18 months as compared to at least 2 years through any other program that you would begin from scratch. This is an ideal option for people who have decided to make a career change after having already completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an unrelated field.
Accelerated programs are one thing, but there are also programs out there that exist to allow students to achieve receive both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing simultaneously. This also tends to save time as you will not be required to complete each qualification separately. These take 3 to 4 years to complete but at the end you will be qualified to fill specialized and advanced positions in nursing. If you did each degree separately it would take 5 or 6 years to complete them both, so this is also a significant way to save time on your path to becoming an RN. However these programs are not particularly widespread. These programs combine the benefits of faster training with those of a higher educational level, including more job opportunities and a higher salary.
Although the fastest way to a nursing career can still take a number of years of your time, it is still shorter than many of the other options that you may have heard of. The bottom line is that you cannot become qualified to do anything over night. There is always a certain degree of hard work and effort involved in becoming a medical professional, and, although becoming a nurse can be a smoother process than you may have initially imagined, you will still need to give it the attention it deserves.