Many people search for online RN programs, but the truth is you cannot earn an RN designation simply by earning a nursing degree.
What is a Registered Nurse?
A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who has graduated from a nursing program, possibly online, and passed the the national licensing exam.
- case management
- clinical research
- develop patient care procedures
- teach in nursing programs.
A registered nurse’s primary responsibilities are to provide care and educational resources to patients and their families.
- are fluent in another language
- have years of professional experience
- specialize in certain kinds of care, diseases, age ranges, or parts of the body
- have earned a master’s in nursing.
How to Become an RN Online
There are three steps to becoming a registered nurse:
- Complete the minimum required nursing education—usually a certificate or diploma.
- Work at a healthcare facility under an RN to gain supervised clinical experience.
- Pass the national RN examination (NCLEX-RN exam).
Online RN Programs
More than one online nursing degree program can help you become an RN and prepare you to sit for the licensing exam.
Many RNs launch their careers by earning nursing diplomas or certificates and becoming a LPN (licensed practical nurse). Once working, LPNs can go on to complete the coursework needed for an associate’s degree to become an RN. Testing out of required courses can significantly speed up this process.
Changing Careers to Become a Nurse
If you have no nursing experience and want to enter this field, nursing school at a local community college may be your best option. Many community colleges offer hybrid or blended online nursing aide programs, nursing diplomas and associate’s in nursing that prepare students to be a Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LPN).
For those who have a bachelor’s degree, but their major was not in nursing, there are special programs that allow career changers to earn a RN degree online. These special nursing degrees are often referred to as online accelerated BSN programs or second degree BSN.
RN Licensure and Certification
Once an individual has completed education and clinical requirements, they must pursue licensure to become a registered nurse.
- psychosocial and physiological integrity
- health promotion
- infection control
- fundamental nursing skills.
RNs can advance their careers by earning certifications in specialty areas. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, offers a variety of certifications and specialties ranging from General Nursing practice to Public Health Nursing and Pediatric Nursing.
Online BSN & MSN Programs
After becoming employed in nursing as a health aide or LPN, you may enter an online BSN program.
An accelerated BSN is the best choice If a nurse has already earned some level of nursing licensure or certification and wishes to advance his or her career.
There are also many accredited online MSN nursing programs. The flexibility of earning a nursing master’s online allows nurses to complete their practical requirements in their home region or current workplace.
These programs generally offer either a generalized degree or an advanced practice nursing concentration or specialty. Specialities include:
- clinical nurse specialists
- nurse anesthetists
- nurse practitioners.
A registered nurse can use their pursuit of a master’s degree (or eventually a doctoral degree) to leverage advancement into administrative positions in nursing fields like healthcare education, nursing research, and management.
Nurses must also complete continuing education credits (CECs) to maintain licensure.
Choosing a Nursing Degree Specialty
A nurse or prospective nurse should choose their nursing concentration and specialty field according to their own personal interests and career goals. Tremendous opportunities exists for RNs with special interests who can combine these interests to create new and very interesting career paths.
Registered Nurse Career Outlook
Registered nurses represent one of the top 10 in-demand careers in the United States. In 2012 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were over 2.7 million nurses, making it one of the largest healthcare job niches.
The median annual salary for registered nurses is $65,470 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Registered nurses who work for the government make $68,540 a year and those who work in the offices of physicians make $58,420 yearly.