How Much Experience Do You Need to Become a Registered Nurse?

Posted On February 15,2017


Registered nurses usually work in general medical and surgical hospitals, physicians’ offices, home health care services, nursing care facilities and outpatient care centers. Most of the work RNs perform includes patient care, case management, disease prevention services and maintenance of medical records. RNs also offer administrative and health care management services at different levels, for example, organizing clinics or health education trainings for the public.

Educational Experience

After graduation from high school, there are three educational pathways available to qualify to practice as a RN. You can enroll at an accredited college for a two-year associate degree in nursing or join a three-year nursing diploma program at a teaching hospital or join a traditional four-year college or university for a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. The diploma program offers more hands on experience than the other two school-based programs, while the bachelor’s degree includes more courses in non-nursing fields, helping you diversify your clinical knowledge.

Regardless of the program you take, you must register for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and pass to qualify for a licence from your local state board of nursing. Once you get your licence, you must take continuing nursing courses that qualify you to take periodical licensure renewal examinations.

Direct Care Experience

In addition to your education program’s practical requirements, experience in patient care may help you access better opportunities as a RN. As soon as you start your nursing education, look for opportunities that help you gain skills you can use as a RN. For example, volunteer at a nursing home or a day care that caters to children with special needs. Alternatively, offer to work for free as an assistant to freelance nurses who offer homecare services. You can also volunteer at healthcare facilities or medical camps, which provide real life experiences to situations you will encounter in your line of work.

Organizational Experience

Your nursing education equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to excel as a RN; however, part-time jobs and volunteer work gives you organizational experience to help you succeed in the workplace. For example, working in a day care teaches you patience while a waitressing job improves your interpersonal skills and exposes you to a high-pressure environment. Whatever job experience you gain while preparing for your RN license helps you develop a skill that will play a role in your success as an RN. Take advantage of available opportunities to learn about organizational cultures, workplace politics, time management, interpersonal skills and personal financial management.

Personal Skills

Personal skills such as empathy, patience, multi-tasking and interpersonal skills help you excel as a RN. Expose yourself to situations and experiences that help you gain these skills. For example, volunteer to help pediatric units organize holiday celebrations for the sick children: you get to improve your organizational skills while experiencing real-life patients and their unique needs. The best way is to improve your personal skills is to work in situations that allow you to practice; ask for feedback from experts and work on becoming a better you.

The experience you need to work and succeed as a registered nurse will vary depending on your educational background and your long-term career prospects. Whatever path you choose, prepare yourself for a demanding and exciting experiencing as a registered nurse. Your work will give you personal and professional fulfillment as you attend to the needs of your patients and their families. Get started today by sitting down with our admission counselors at Athena Career Academy. 

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