To become a nurse in the United States, you must obtain a nursing license for the state you want to work in. All nursing candidates must meet specific education and experience criteria to be eligible to complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass this exam.
The educational criterion for US-trained candidates is a minimum 3-year degree or diploma in nursing studies from an accredited nursing school. Acceptance into an accredited school requires graduation from high school and advanced credits in English, biology, science and math. There are two options in nursing education: registered nurse and practical nurse or nursing assistant.
As part of their training, everyone wanting to become a nurse must have between 40 to 80 clinical experience hours in pediatrics, obstetrics, and psychiatry. These hours are required in addition to the standard hours for medical, surgical, and community nursing rotations. The actual rotations are scheduled through the nursing school, which should have an association with several local hospitals.
Foreign-trained nurses who want to work in the US must pass the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) certification program, in addition to all the requirements listed above. The certification program has three parts: credentials evaluation, a one day qualifying exam of nursing knowledge, and an English language proficiency exam. The nursing exam has 260 multiple choice questions and is held four times per year.
The NCLEX-RN exam is administered on behalf of the state board of nursing by VUE Pearson. The test itself is computerized multiple choice. It is designed to test your knowledge of nursing practices, state laws and standard of care guidelines.
Preparatory classes are available to help prospective nurses pass the exam. Candidates should spend a minimum of five hours per week preparing for this exam for at least six weeks. The test is timed, with a strict limit on the amount of time allowed.
Explore the different specialties that are available once you become a nurse. Additional education provides opportunities for higher-paying positions in the field. Continuing education is part of managing your career to take advantage of promotion opportunities.
Talk with a career counselor about the steps required in your state to become a nurse. Nursing is a challenging career that provides many opportunities for career advancement, education, and world travel. Many career counselors recommend personal aptitude testing before you start taking classes.