Nurses have a huge impact on patient outcomes.
They make life-and-death decisions, educate patients on preventative care, and administer powerful treatments.
For these reasons and more, the requirements for a career in Nursing can be pretty strict. Just how strict will depend on your state, but in general, you can count on spending your whole career learning new things – and being tested on that knowledge.
Want to learn more about the field? Check out our Nursing homepage, which is packed with useful information.
What to Study for a Career in Nursing
To be accepted into a Nursing degree or diploma program, you’ll need to have your high school diploma or equivalent.
Ready to apply but don’t know where to look? We’ve ranked the Top Online BSN Degrees, so you can rest assured you’ll be applying to the top programs in the country.
Still in high school? Studying science and math can give you a head start on your future training. According to the Campaign for Nursing, the following subjects will be especially useful:
If you really love science and technology, physics and computer science are also recommended.
And one more thing! Studying a foreign language is not necessarily required, but it may prove very helpful in your Nursing career.
There are many educational options in the field of Nursing, ranging from diplomas to doctorates. Both of these paths – and everything in between – can lead to a successful Nursing career.
But after the Journal of Nursing Administration linked better patient outcomes in hospitals to higher percentages of nurses with bachelor’s degrees, more and more organizations have begun requiring nurses to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Beyond the BSN, the highest paying careers in Nursing require graduate education, like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD).
To get into a great Nursing graduate program, you’ll need:
- Work experience in healthcare
- Your RN license
- A good GPA
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) standardized test scores
You may also need to submit letters of recommendation and essays with your application for admission.
State Nursing Licensure
After you complete your Nursing training, you’ll need to become licensed before you can practice your career. For example, the state license is the registered part of the title of registered nurse (RN).
The licensing process is managed by each state, so it can vary from place to place. The industry is shifting toward national licensing, but in the meantime, you’ll need to be licensed in any state where you are going to practice.
While licensing is a requirement for your Nursing career, certifications are optional. That is, you are not legally required to obtain any certifications before you start working.
Certifications may be required for specific Nursing positions, though. They also can help you to command a higher salary and better employment options. That’s because certifications demonstrate your expertise in your area of specialization.
Continuing education is an important part of any Nursing career. It ensures that you’re staying up-to-date on new advances in medicine – and that’s why in many states, you’ll need to complete a certain amount of continuing education to maintain your Nursing license.
For example, if you are working as a registered nurse in Kansas, you’ll need to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. Some states, like Texas, require education in specific topics, such as tick-borne diseases and Nursing ethics.
The potential for ongoing learning is one factor contributing to nurses’ career satisfaction. With new advances in technology, breakthroughs in medicine, and changes within the healthcare industry, there’s always something new to learn in this dynamic field.