6 Important Steps To Becoming A Registered Nurse In The U.S.

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Are you a foreign graduate nurse and you're not sure what the process looks like to becoming a registered nurse? Or maybe you're in the process of researching about nursing and you want to know how exactly to get started. Inside this article, I will walk you through six steps to becoming a registered nurse.  

#1- Research different nursing programs

Whether you're going to go through school online or on campus, you want to first take the time to look up different schools BEFORE you take your nursing prerequisites. This is important because many schools have different requirements to become accepted. For example, some schools require that you pass the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) exam prior to applying. Others require you pass the HESI Entrance Exam which is another entrance exam. And then there are some that don't have any of those requirements at all. It's up to you if you want to take the route of getting your LPN license first and then become a Registered Nurse or if you want to just go straight into becoming a Registered Nurse (what I did). 

Another thing you want to consider is if you do decide to take the RN route, is if you want to get your associate's degree or your bachelor's of science degree.


#2- Complete The Prerequisites

The next thing you got to do now is actually complete the prerequisites to get accepted into the program. This includes taking the classes through a Pre-Nursing Major whether at a local community college or at the university you are applying to for the program. Now I will be honest with you, there are literally THOUSANDS of applications every single year so it's not going to be super easy to get in. You have to do your best to stand out and keep applying. Here's some things I recommend to help you better compete with everyone else

  • Complete a foreign language class

  • Complete at least 100 volunteer hours at a local hospital

  • Join a nursing organization

  • Speak in person with the nursing counselors/administrators (so they know who you are)

  • Apply to the less "popular" nursing schools


#3- Turn In Your Application

What you don't want to do is just apply to one program at a time. Nope, you got to apply to several nursing programs at the same time. You will have one or two that you really want to go to but still apply to more so that way you have options, hopefully. Because once again, most schools are impacted. If you don't get accepted right away, that's okay. Don't give up, keep applying and apply early. I had to apply 3 times before I got accepted.


#4- Complete The Program

Obviously, this one is easier said than done. But of course go through the program, do your best and FINISH. Now I know there are some schools that have an ADDITIONAL exam that you have to complete before you can even finish the program, which for example is the HESI Exit Exam. I would recommend, finding specific HESI books you can read from to help you pass this exam. Here's a book below that I recommend.

HESI A2 Secrets Study Guide: HESI A2 Test Review for the Health Education Systems, Inc. Admission Assessment Exam  

#5- Take The NCLEX

Now this is the dreaded part that most people are fearful of and that is taking and passing their NCLEX exam. If however you are a international or foreign graduate, then you need to first visit the CGFNS website for the requirements for your state. As a foreign graduate, some states require you to pass their exam before you can even take the NCLEX exam. I do also have a book called, "What You Need To Know Before You Take The NCLEX" to further guide you. The book doesn't focus on covering content on the exam but helping you to better understand what the whole process of passing the exam is all about. Here's a quick 5 minute video on, "What Is The NCLEX?".


#6- Find A Nursing Job

Once you take your NCLEX exam, then within about 72 hours, you will know you passed and are now licensed with your unofficial results. After you pass you can start looking for jobs online. I recommend Indeed.com which has great job opportunities. Be aware though, that you will have a more limit of jobs since you are a new nurse, but don't give up looking and don't be afraid to take the less glamorous jobs.

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