There are many routes to becoming a nurse: A 2-year and 4-year degree. The route you take will answer your question, how long is nursing school? We’ll look at both.
Accelerated programs are also fast growing nationwide, and these programs offer nurse aspirants yet another route.
Currently, there are two degrees leading to nursing: Associate’s Degree in Nursing (Registered nurse track) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN track).
The other options are non-degree or vocational, and they are: Nursing program for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), and/or Nursing program for Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN).
The non-degree programs take only 1 to 1.5 years, depending on the state where you intend to study and work. Requirements will also be state-specific.
The focus of this article will be on becoming a nurse via the two-degree programs mentioned.
Becoming a nurse via an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
Of the two routes, ADN is the shortest and it involves the following steps:
1. Complete an ADN
Full-time students can finish an ADN in two years like any associate’s degree.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to decide what school and program to choose from since there are more than a thousand of them strewn across the US – mostly in hospitals, universities, community colleges, and career centers.
Just make sure you get to be accepted in a school with duly accredited and state-sanctioned training programs or you can visit your state’s Board of Nursing for proper guidance and assistance.
More often than not, schools require prerequisites before being admitted to the program, which takes around one year or less to complete.
School policies vary between states, so consult with the college’s nursing advisor concerning this matter for proper guidance.
If you are fresh from high school you are required to submit your diploma or GED.
Remember, you’ll have better chances of being accepted to the program if you had a high percentile in the ACT or SAT, and you’ve had plenty of background with science subjects, like Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics. Your school records and academic performance are an added weight, too.
Brace yourself for the nursing program’s coursework that would include subjects like, Psychology, Anatomy, Microbiology, Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, Humanities, Mathematics, and language courses.
And don’t forget all nursing curriculums require every nursing student to undergo mandatory clinical training for a certain number of hours before graduation.
This prepares would-be nurses to handle medical cases efficiently, with compassion and tender loving care for the sick patients.
2. Take and pass the NCLEX
ADN graduates are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN licensing examination administered by the NCSBN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing). Pass the exam and strictly comply with the state’s requirements and be off as a registered nurse.
You might want to think ahead and ask if you can obtain credits for your ADN degree should you be interested later on to pursue a BSN. The answer would be a resounding yes.
Early on in this article, we mentioned about the accelerated programs in various schools nationwide that enable students to earn a degree in nursing the quickest way.
Seek out those accredited schools offering state-approved bridge programs for ADN to BSN that are much cheaper and quicker to complete.
The prerequisites take an average of 1 year; the whole ADN course takes 2 years for full-time students and the preparation and passing the licensure will take from 6 to 12 months.
Summing up, a student will spend between 3 and 4 years to become a nurse via the ADN route. If you take the accelerated ADN, it will be shorter by about a year.
Becoming a nurse via a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
The nursing profession is undergoing some reforms and, in the future, only those with a BSN will be qualified to take the licensure for nurses. So while you’re at it, why don’t you take this direct route?
It might allow you to cut some corners if you do nursing in one stretch rather than doing it in several installments. The only issue might be the cost of nursing school using this route because you will be going to school for a little longer. Here are the steps:
1. Obtain a BSN
After graduating from high school the most direct route to become a registered nurse would be to take the BSN degree, which could take four years to complete on a fulltime basis.
The same with the associate’s degree, prerequisite coursework are mandatory prior to taking the regular nursing curriculum.
Your performance in these courses could determine your admission or denial into the nursing program; so hard work, diligence, and steadfastness should take center-stage at all times.
On the other hand, those who have earned their ADN will have to add another two to three years to complete their BSN, depending on whether they intend to study fulltime or part-time.
While those who have obtained vocational training programs, like EMT or LVN, will have to spend three to five years more to finish a BSN.
Those with a bachelor’s degree in non-nursing disciplines can avail of the highly concentrated accelerated nursing program designed for non-nursing bachelor’s degree holders, which usually takes around eighteen months to two years to complete.
This program requires a rigorous admission and a requisite 3.0 grade point average in order for an applicant to qualify.
2. Pass the NCLEX
After graduation you will have to review earnestly for the NCLEX licensing exam for RNs and pass the same before you could practice the noble nursing profession.
Prerequisite courses take about a year; the formal BSN will take 4 years for fulltime students; and the licensure exam may take half a year to 1 year.
That brings the total to around 6 years to become a nurse via the BSN route. If you take an accelerated BSN, you save from 1 to 1.5 years off the regular BSN length.
Nursing is truly a demanding profession – even a lot stressful to some, but it has also its fulfilling rewards and specialties like surgical, working with babies, or flight nursing.
Compared to ADN registered nurses, the BSNs have better employment opportunities and enjoy much higher pay rates.
With long years of intensive education and training, a BSN is deemed to have a much deeper insight and comprehension of the nursing profession than one who has had only half of that span to study and train.
Ultimately, though, the decision on whom to hire rests on the employer.
Between now and 2020, the demand for more registered RNs is expected to rise.
It’s high time to choose the degree you think would work best for you and your circumstances. I hope this explains how long is nursing school.