There’s no doubt that nursing is a special calling. Some realize that calling later in life than others and have to switch their career path. Changing your career to nursing may seem overwhelming and time-consuming, but the reality is that you could start your career as an entry-level nurse in under two years.
For example, in as few as 12 months, you could get your diploma in practical nursing and become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). An LPN provides basic medical care to patients under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. They monitor patients’ conditions, provide basic comfort, report statuses and keep records on patients’ health. A misconception is
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% employment increase for LPNs from 2020-2030. LPNs also ranked among the Best Healthcare Support Jobs in America in 2020 according to U.S. News & World Report.
You can also choose to pursue your Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), which can prepare you for a career as a registered nurse (RN) and can be completed in about 20-24 months. The BLS projects a 12% employment in RNs between 2018 and 2028.
Here is how you could potentially earn your nursing degree in about 24 months or less:
1. Know the requirements
Every school has different education requirements for acceptance into a nursing program. For example, at Herzing University, a minimum GPA of 2.0 and the minimum composite score on a current version of the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is the expectation for students interested in earning their diploma in practical nursing.
An ASN degree has similar requirements. Students should have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and meet the minimum composite score on a current version of the TEAS.
Exact requirements vary by campus and are subject to change. If you have any questions, you should contact the campus location that you are interested in for more information. They will be happy to answer any questions and work with you!
2. Complete your education
Once you determine which program is best for you, you can enroll to begin earning credits toward your degree. Both LPN and ASN programs at Herzing include a combination of coursework and clinical experience. One of the quickest ways to complete your degree is to be a full-time student. While some students have to juggle other life commitments by attending school part-time, being full-time allows you to take more credits and fully dedicate your time to earning your degree. While you can complete your LPN in as little as 12 months, most campuses require around 74 credits to complete in your ASN program, which can take typically 20 to 24 months to complete.
Herzing is transfer friendly! You might be able to take some of your previous work and classroom experiences and turn it into college credit.
3. Get hands-on experience
While you can start a full-time job as a nurse after completing your nursing program, it’s possible to work in the healthcare field while going to school. It can be stressful trying to balance responsibilities outside of your classes, but your clinical and work experience can set you apart from other candidates. Not only does work give you real, hands-on experience, but it also can supplement your coursework.
Be careful and realistic in the expectations you set for yourself, as you don’t want to burn yourself out. Practice good time management, taking the appropriate time to study and complete your schoolwork. Always give your best effort – a job opportunity could stem from your clinicals.
4. Take the NCLEX
After completing the program, you will qualify for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). There are two versions of the NCLEX, and your nursing degree will determine which version you need to take. One is the NCLEX-PN, which is specific to LPNs and the other is the NCLEX-RN, which is for those planning on becoming a registered nurse. Once you pass the exam, you’re ready to start a career as a nurse.
Following these four steps will get you well on your way to completing your nursing degree. If you complete your LPN or ASN, you can always decide to go back to school and get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to advance your career.
Although your educational requirements are an important part of becoming a nurse, here are some qualities to work on that will help set you apart from others:
- Passion. Every day will bring ups and downs, but the best nurses are excited about what they’re doing and appreciate that they can make a difference in patients’ lives.
- Compassion. You will often see patients and their families dealing with one of the most stressful situations in their lives. They may look to you for answers and help so it’s important to be sympathetic and helpful when you can.
- Quick thinking. Nursing requires you to make quick decisions on the spot. Someone’s life, health and comfort are in your hands, so you must be comfortable and confident in making big decisions.
Ready to switch your career to nursing? Learn more about Herzing University’s nursing programs to get started today.