Health care is considered to be one of the fast growing industries and there is huge demand for qualified professionals. Besides studying to be a doctor, there are also other career options available. One of them is nursing. A bachelor’s course in nursing is of longer duration and if you wish to start working sooner, then it can be quite difficult to pursue. You could, however pursue a an associate degree in nursing, which is mostly for two years and start working as a registered nurse soon after completion of the program. The programs are available in many community colleges, technical colleges and universities.
There are quite lot of entry requirements to join an associate degree in nursing, besides having a high school diploma or its equivalent. They must also meet the grade point average (GPA) specified by the school. Also, the program has limited number of openings, so the screening is difficult. You should have taken subjects like math, chemistry, and biology in your high school. Certain schools may also have entrance exams that you need to qualify to be eligible for the program.
The coursework for the associate degree in nursing comprises of classroom lectures and equal amount of clinical and lab experience. This is necessary for the candidates to have hands-on experience and be well equipped to handle patient-care tasks. The coursework would comprise of subjects like anatomy, microbiology, nursing fundamentals, physiology, clinical nursing, patient management, pharmacology, etc. There might be scope for specialisation in fields like surgery, paediatrics, mental health, etc.
To become a registered nurse, the candidate would have to clear the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain licence to start nursing practice. Additionally you would also be required to be an active Certified Nursing Assistant within months of experience. You would also have to undergo negative drug screen tests, background checks for criminal records and also provide proof of specific immunization.
On completion of the associate degree in nursing along with the above qualifications, you might be able to start working as nursing assistant at healthcare facilities and hospitals. This would mostly be entry level jobs. You may also decide to pursue a higher educational qualification like a bachelor of science in nursing, if you wish to get supervisory roles in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Pursuing a master’s degree would get you better job options. When you a pursue a master’s degree, you would also be able to specialise in a specific field of your choice and become a certified nursing midwife, clinical nurse specialist, nursing practitioner or registered anaesthetist, based on your specialisation.
As per the information furnished by the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), the employment opportunities for registered nurses are expected to increase by a good percentage in this decade. The technological improvement in patient care and increased treatment options and rise in the number of patients seeking treatments has increased the need for well qualified nurses.