Thinking of becoming an RN? This is a career path that is very rewarding, both financially and because you are helping people, and the opportunities are plentiful. In the health industry, RNs or registered nurses make up the bulk of the workforce and they are the ones who have attended RN schools to pursue a formal qualification. Being an RN is a career choice that is challenging, since it requires you to work unusual hours and spend a lot of time on your feet. It also calls for you to be very knowledgeable and educated.
An RN has a very special set of responsibilities, not the least of which includes caring for the needs of patients who are ill or injured. This job can be performed in hospitals, clinics, informal clinics, home care facilities and others, and this means having a range of knowledge and experience. As an RN, you will be required to observe patients and record their histories, establish care plans, give emotional support and advise patients and their families about how to deal with their injuries or illnesses.
How To Become An RN
RN schools are plentiful throughout the United States as this is a field that a lot of people pursue. There are many different types of degree that an RN can pursue, including a bachelors degree in nursing, an associate nursing degree or a diploma. All of these require a set amount of time spent in a formal institution and the student has to pass certain exams.
The associate’s degree takes about two years to complete, though it can be extended to three, depending on the program you choose. The different qualifications you can obtain include:
- Associate’s degree – This course gives you a shorter period in which to complete your qualification and when you do complete it, you can choose to work in a hospital in an entry level position. Taking this choice will give you excellent experience and practice in this field.
- Bachelor’s degree – offered by colleges and universities, this degree takes about four years to complete. However, once you have completed it, you have access to a lot more job opportunities. Typically, this degree will be completed by those who already have an RN qualification in the form of a diploma.
- Nursing diploma – this is the most traditional form of completing your qualification as a nurse and many colleges offer it.
Once you have completed the degree, you will be required to take the nursing exam or NCLEX-RN in order to practice and each state will have its own requirements for RNs. To become an RN, you will need to study, but you need to be selective about your choice of schools. When looking for a school, you need to consider the cost of tuition, the accreditation of the school and the amount of time it will take for you to complete your studies.
These RN programs will include both formal learning and clinical training so that you can match theoretical knowledge to physical experience when you start in the world of work.
The Better-known RN Schools
Some of the best-known RN schools include:
- The University of Phoenix – with a respected program for those who wish to become RNs or transfer their RN program to BSN, this school is best known for preparing RNs for roles where they will require specialized experience. This includes roles as managers or supervisors and to fulfill this requirement, the school has become accredited through the Higher Learning Commission.
- Jacksonville University – This university has a program that marries formal knowledge to practical experience and covers the fields of ethics and good communication too. This really prepares RNs or those in the healthcare field for the world of work, and gives them the chance to advance in their workplaces.
- John Hopkins University – based in Baltimore, Maryland, John Hopkins is a famed school with an excellent RN program. The school is also linked to a top hospital to provide the best experience, but for that privilege, you will need to pay about $50 000 a year.
- University of Pennsylvania – this university teaches programs under experienced and dedicated lecturers who give the students the best possible information and up to date study aids to ensure they can excel in their field.
- University of Washington – another well-known school, the University of Washington is an exceptional facility that teaches students the skills to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
- Yale – one of the most renowned schools in America, Yale is known for its excellent programs and this includes the RN program.
- Columbia University – this is one of the most respected schools in the field of nursing and offers bachelors, masters and even PhDs.
- Duqense University – for about $26 000 a year, you can attend the Duquense School of Nursing in Pittsburgh.
- Wayne State University – in the heart of Detroit, this university is very well known for its nursing program and offers bachelors, masters and PhDs, with student nurses being able to complete work on campus.
These nursing schools are excellent, but when you are selecting RN schools, you also need to consider how likely it is that you can get there. If you cannot afford a school far away from your home and cannot get financial aid, you may prefer to opt for a school closer to where you live.
Each school will have its own admission requirements but you need to understand that the RN program is not an easy one, and will require a lot of hard work from you. Many require you to maintain a 2.5 GPA and passing the test at the end of your studies will require hard work consistently throughout the years.
RN Schools Should Help You Select A Nursing Specialization
The sign of a good nursing school is one that guides you to select your specialization. Though you may choose to just work in a general hospital environment, many RNs go on to become specialists in a certain area. These can include:
- Medical/surgical nursing which allows you to help those patients who need surgery.
- Cardiac nursing for those patients about to undergo heart transplants and who need help in maintain the health of their hearts.
- Pediatric care for those who prefer to work with children and infants.
- Geriatric nursing which involves working with elderly patients, usually in a special care facility.
- Emergency nursing and critical care is an environment that may seem exciting because of the constant action and drama but only those who like being on their feet constantly and who have a cool temperament should pursue this field.
- Oncology allows for nurses to help those patients who have cancer and need to go through the treatments for this.
- Psychiatric health allows nurses to deal with the side of caring for patients with mental problems.
The specializations mentioned above are only some of those available to you and in your first year of clinical care, you will be exposed to many of these fields. By attending classes and sticking with the program, you can get a wide scope of experience and advice, thus helping you make the best decision for your career.
How Much Do RN Schools Cost?
The costs of this kind of program can be quite high when you consider how much the tuition costs, how much the study materials cost and the length of time needed to complete the program. However, many schools, including the ones listed above do offer financial aid programs, which can be discussed with the school. To find out more about financial aid, you will need to:
- Look online or discuss your requirements with the financial aid officer in your school of choice.
- Apply for financial aid with an essay explaining why you need the aid and for how long.
- Look for other options, such as student loans if the financial aid does not work out.
An RN schools program can cost anywhere from $20 000 to $30 000 and though this is very high, the earning potential once you graduate is high too. For those who cannot afford these costs, scholarships and other forms of financial aid are available. Some of the scholarships available to you include:
- Johnson & Johnson as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives offer some scholarships.
- The National Black Nurse’s Association can help with education for black citizens hoping to pursue a career in nursing.
- Each state will have their own scholarship programs and you can check these with the state medical department.
- You also need to check with the school you hope to attend for any scholarship or grant opportunities. They may have ties to corporate sponsors who can help you apply for financial aid.
- If all else fails, you may have to approach your bank for help and this means a high interest rate, but it also means you won’t have to pay until you graduate.
Careers After RN School
RN is a skill that is very much in demand and this means for those who are currently studying to become an RN, you can look forward to all manner of potential rewards including signing bonuses, flexible work schedules and the chance to continue your education and become more experienced in the field.
One of the major concerns in this industry is that the generation with the most experience and skills is the one on the verge of retirement. This means a huge skills gap that will need to be filled by a new workforce. As a result, RN schools are looking to fill the gap by accepting more applicants in their programs and encouraging youth to study to become RNs. This means that even in the bigger schools, requirements may be flexible and even if you don’t quite have the grades, you might still be accepted to study to become an RN.
Once RNs begin to practice, the earning potential differs from workplace to workplace and this means that it may take you some time to pay off student loans. However, the more experience you gain, the more potential there is to earn and this is why so many RNs choose to study further while they work. You will also find that the amount of money you can make is directly influenced by the state in which you live, as some have more job opportunities and higher salaries than others.
Becoming an RN requires a high level of commitment, both in terms of studying and in working. This is because of the level of skills and the type of personality that is needed to be successful in this career. In terms of personality, you need to be hardworking and tenacious, because the job is such that there will be problems that arise constantly and drama simply due to the nature of the environment.
However, becoming an RN can be very rewarding both in the people you treat and in the salary. In fact, RNs are in such high demand that many of them will be headhunted and may move from hospital to hospital quite often. As long as they are being offered the best pay, this is bound to happen.
When it comes to RN schools, your choice should not simply be made on which is the best, but rather on which is the best for you. Each person who studies to become an RN has their own reasons for wanting to do so, and in many cases they need to find a school that supports this. They also need to find the balance between a school that is right for them in terms of location and where they can get financial aid. Finding this balance can be difficult and may involve going to a lot of different schools to try and compare them.
Once you have found the right school for you that has the right requirements and that can support the goals that you want to reach, you will need to buckle down and work hard, because when you graduate from RN schools, the hard work really starts.