Becoming a nurse: from student to professional


Nursing is a dynamic and challenging healthcare profession that involves providing patient care, promoting health, and managing illness. Nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and schools. They have an important role to play as they help patients recover from illness, injury, and disease.

There are many different types of nurses, including registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). RNs and NPs typically have a higher level of education and can perform a wider range of tasks. Meanwhile, LPNs have a more focused role and generally work under the supervision of RNs.

The nursing profession requires strong critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, as well as the ability to work well under pressure. It is also a physically and emotionally demanding profession, and nurses must be able to handle the demands of the job while providing compassionate care to patients and their families.

Despite the challenges, nursing is a rewarding and fulfilling profession that offers opportunities for personal and professional growth. With a growing demand for healthcare services and an aging population, nursing is a field with excellent job prospects and a bright future. Now is a great time to study to become a nurse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states from 2021 to 2031, the demand for RNs will grow by 6%. 

If you want to know how to become a nurse in Kansas, Rockhurst University has an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program that can be completed in two years instead of the usual four years if you already have a bachelor’s degree in any other field. That will enable you to join the nursing workforce early and take advantage of the surging demand for nurses in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. 

Importance of nursing in healthcre 

Nursing plays a vital role in the healthcare system as it is an essential component of patient care. Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry and provide a wide range of services that are critical to the health and well-being of patients.

One of the most important roles of nurses is to provide direct patient care. Nurses are often the first point of contact for patients and are responsible for monitoring vital signs, administering medications, and performing diagnostic tests. They also help patients and their families understand their health conditions and educate on how to manage their health.

Another important aspect of nursing is the coordination of care. Nurses work closely with other healthcare providers, including doctors, therapists, and social workers, to ensure that patients receive the best possible patient care. They also help to bridge the gap between patients and the healthcare system, serving as advocates for their patients and helping them to navigate the complex healthcare system.

Many people are unaware that nurses play a critical role in promoting health and preventing illness. They educate patients and communities about health and wellness and work to prevent the spread of disease. Depending on their specialization, nurses participate in research and clinical trials, helping to advance the science of nursing and improve patient care.

Choosing a nursing program

Researching different types of nursing programs is a crucial step in choosing the right program for you. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. However, by taking the time to research and compare your options, you can find the program that will best meet your needs and help you achieve your goals.

One of the first things to consider when researching nursing programs is the type of program. There are several different types of nursing programs, including associate degree programs, bachelor’s degree programs, accelerated bachelor’s programs, and master’s degree programs. Each type of program offers its unique benefits and disadvantages, so it is important to understand the differences and determine which is right for you.

Associate degree programs are designed to be completed in two years and are a good option for those who want to start working as a nurse as soon as possible. These programs typically provide a foundation in nursing theory and practice, and prepare graduates to take the NCLEX-RN exam needed to become licensed registered nurses.

Bachelor’s degree programs take longer to complete, usually four years. They offer more advanced training and career opportunities. These programs include both classroom education and clinical experiences, and prepare graduates to become registered nurses. After the program, individuals will be equipped to pursue advanced practice nursing roles, such as nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists, as well.

Master’s degree programs are designed for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and want to specialize in a specific area of nursing practice, such as nursing administration or nursing education. These programs typically take two years to complete and provide advanced training in a single area, as well as opportunities for leadership and research.

Another important factor to consider when researching nursing programs is accreditation. Accreditation is a process by which educational programs are evaluated and certified by an outside agency to ensure that they meet certain standards. It is important to choose a program that is accredited by a recognized accrediting body, such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), to ensure that you receive a high-quality education and are well-prepared for the NCLEX-RN exam.

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It is also important to research the curriculum of the programs you are considering. Make sure that the program covers all the subjects required for licensure in addition to the clinical experiences that will give you hands-on experience in patient care. You should also look for programs that offer opportunities for specialization, such as pediatrics, oncology, or critical care if you have a specific area of interest.

Understanding the admission requirements 

When you choose a nursing program, it is essential to know the admission requirements to enroll in the program – these requirements must be met before you can be accepted. Requirements vary depending on the type of program and the school. For instance, if you want to enroll in the ABSN program at Rockhurst University, you will need to submit a transcript of your bachelor’s degree and GPA of specific courses, like microbiology, anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, statistics, and nutrition.  

Academic requirements typically include a high school diploma or equivalent, and some programs may also require you to have completed specific courses, such as biology and chemistry, with a minimum GPA. You may also be required to take a standardized test, such as the ACT or SAT, to demonstrate your academic ability.

It is important to carefully review the admission requirements for each nursing program you are considering and understand the timeline for submitting your application. Some programs have rolling admissions while others have specific deadlines. You should also be aware of any additional materials that may be required, such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, or a resume.

Preparing for nursing school 

If you are keen to join a nursing school, you need the correct preparation to be successful and reach your goal of becoming a nurse. Here are some tips to help you prepare for nursing school.

  • Build a strong academic foundation

Nursing programs require a strong foundation in the sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and microbiology. If you have any gaps in your knowledge, consider taking courses or reviewing materials before you start your nursing program.

  • Gain healthcare experience

Healthcare experience can give you a better understanding of the field and help you make an informed decision about your career. You can volunteer or work in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or nursing home, to gain hands-on experience and exposure to different areas of nursing.

  • Get organized

Nursing school can be demanding. So, it’s important to stay organized and manage your time effectively. Create a study schedule and stick to it, and use study tools, such as flashcards and study groups, to help stay focused and motivated.

  • Build a support network

Nursing school can be challenging, so it’s important to have a support network to help you stay motivated and on track. Think of joining a nursing student organization, connecting with other students in your program, and reaching out to family and friends for support.

  • Develop good study habits

When you are studying, you will spend a significant amount of time in preparation. Hence, it is important to develop good study habits early on. Find a quiet place to study, break material down into smaller chunks, and take regular breaks to avoid burnout.

  • Stay physically and mentally healthy

Nursing school can be physically and mentally demanding. So, take the time to look after yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and engage in physical activity to help you stay focused and energized.

  • Start preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam

You must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed registered nurse. Start preparing for the exam early on by studying the test plan, taking practice exams, and reviewing materials.

Preparing for nursing school is an important step in the process of becoming a nurse. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your goal of becoming a nurse.

The nursing school experience 

Do not get overwhelmed by reading online stories about nursing school. While nursing school can be challenging, it is also a fulfilling and rewarding experience. When you study nursing, you will have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills you need to become a successful nurse. Here are some of the key elements of the nursing school experience.

  • Classroom instruction

Nursing school includes both theoretical and hands-on instruction, with a focus on the sciences. You will also learn about nursing theories, patient assessment, and the nursing process.

  • Clinical experience

Nursing programs include clinical experience, which is an opportunity to apply the knowledge you have learned in the classroom in a real-world setting. Clinical experience typically takes place in a healthcare environment, such as a hospital, nursing home, or clinic, and is supervised by a registered nurse.

Your nursing school provides opportunities to connect with other nursing students and form study groups. Studying with others can help you stay motivated and on track, and can also be an opportunity to build professional relationships that can be valuable later on in your career. You can look online for tips that will help you settle down and get comfortable in your college or university. By doing this, you can network and create your study group to help you better succeed in your course. 

  • Taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) 
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The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a critical step in the process of becoming a nurse. You must pass the NCLEX to become a licensed registered nurse. The exam is designed to test your knowledge and skills in the field. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for the NCLEX.

  • Know the format of the exam

The NCLEX is a computer-based exam that uses adaptive testing, meaning that the questions you receive will be based on your answers to previous questions. So, get familiar with the format of the exam and understand how adaptive testing works.

  • Study the NCLEX test plan

The NCLEX test plan is a guide that outlines the content areas that will be covered on the exam. Study the test plan and make sure you understand the key concepts and skills that will be tested.

  • Take practice exams

Taking practice exams is an important part of preparing for the NCLEX. Practice exams can help you identify areas where you need to improve and also help you get accustomed to the format and pacing of the exam.

  • Create a study plan

The NCLEX is a long exam, so it’s important to stay organized and manage your time effectively. Make a study schedule and stick to it. Use study tools, such as flashcards and study groups, to help you stay focused and motivated.

  • Get enough rest and eat well

Taking care of your physical and mental health is important as you prepare for the NCLEX. Make sure you get enough rest, eat well, and engage in physical activity to help you stay focused and energized.

By preparing well and following these steps, you can increase your chances of passing the NCLEX and achieve your goal of becoming a nurse.

  • Applying for licensure

After you sit for NCLEX and pass the examination, you need to apply for your nursing license. Usually, the nursing board in your state handles it and you can get the relevant information from these boards. Nonetheless, here are some steps to follow as you apply for licensure.

  • Determine the requirements in your state

Each state has its own requirements for licensure. In Kansas, the Kansas Board of Nursing oversees the licensure. You will need to provide fingerprints, which are good for 6 months. In addition, you have to have your nursing degree transcript and get a background check done. 

  • Gather necessary documents

To apply for licensure, you will need to provide documentation, such as your NCLEX scores, transcripts from your nursing program, and proof of identity. Be sure to check the specific requirements in your state.

  • Complete the application process

Once you have gathered all the necessary documentation, complete the application process. This typically involves filling out an online application and paying a fee.

  • Wait for approval

After you submit your application, wait for the approval. This usually takes a few weeks, so be patient. 

  • Maintain your license

Once you have been granted licensure, it is important to maintain your license by meeting continuous education requirements and adhering to ethical standards.

Starting your career as a nurse 

Starting your career as a nurse can be an exciting time. After completing your nursing education and passing the NCLEX, you are ready to begin practicing as a nurse. Here are some tips for starting your career as a nurse.

  • Network

Networking with other nurses and healthcare professionals can be a great way to learn about job opportunities and gain valuable advice and insights. Attend nursing conferences, join professional organizations, and reach out to nurse mentors to build your network.

  • Choose the right workplace

Finding the right workplace can have a big impact on your career as a nurse. Consider factors such as the type of patients you want to work with, the hours you want to work, and the location of the workplace.

  • Stay up to date with technology and best practices

The field of nursing is constantly evolving. So, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and best practices. Continuously attend education courses and conferences, and read nursing journals and publications to stay informed.

  • Develop leadership skills

As you gain experience as a nurse, consider developing your leadership skills. This can include taking on additional responsibilities in your workplace, seeking leadership roles in professional organizations, or pursuing a higher degree in nursing.

  • Maintain a positive attitude

Nursing can be a demanding and challenging field, but maintaining a positive attitude can help you stay motivated and engaged. Surround yourself with supportive people, engage in activities outside of work, and take care of your physical and mental health to maintain a positive outlook.

A career in nursing offers a rewarding and fulfilling experience, with opportunities to make a difference, choose from a variety of career paths, grow both personally and professionally, enjoy job stability, and achieve a good balance of flexibility and stability. If you have a passion for helping others and a desire to make a positive impact in your community, nursing may be the perfect career for you.


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