nursing school

6 Must-Know FAQs About Nursing School

Nursing school is a complicated endeavor, with a huge range of different starting degrees, as well as ample choice for further study. If you’re looking to apply to nursing school in America, you likely have some unanswered questions due to the confusing process.

In this article, we’ll be going over the top 6 nursing school frequently asked questions, covering:

  • What degree do you need to become a registered nurse?
  • Why are bachelor of science nursing degrees recommended?
  • Why should you pursue nursing?
  • What is a nurse practitioner?
  • How long does qualifying as a registered nurse take?
  • How much does it cost to qualify as a nurse?

Without further hesitation, let’s get right into it!

What degree do I need to become a registered nurse?

There are several different pathways that you can pursue when becoming a registered nurse. All of these pathways finish with the final qualification exam National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). After passing this exam, you’re officially a registered nurse and can practice in a hospital.

However, the process before taking this exam can vary. You’ll either need:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Bachelors of Science Nursing Degree (BSN) 

A BSN takes two years longer than an ADN but can also lead to higher pay, more responsibility, and the opportunity to further your education.

Why are Bachelors of Science Nursing Degrees recommended?

Although not necessary, as you could pursue the Associate Degree in Nursing pathway, BSNs are normally recommended as they can lead to more employment opportunities. The BSN nursing degree is wider, encompassing more knowledge over the two additional years.

You’ll also be able to make more money as a nurse if you hold a BSN, making this a better option if you can afford to pay for two additional years of school. However, please keep in mind that a BSN is only recommended and definitely not required. 

Why should I become a nurse?

Nursing is a fantastic career to pursue several reasons, spanning from giving back to your community to career stability. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons to become a nurse:

  • Demand grows year upon year – In the next ten years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts that the need for nurses will increase by 9%. Due to this, nursing is an excellent field to go into as the need only increases as time goes on.
  • Career Stability – As suggested by the above statistic, society will always need nursing. With this fact comes job security, with the median pay of $75,330 a year pretty much guaranteed for those that enter this career path. 
  • Further specialization – If you’re looking to expand your education in this role, there are pathways that you can take. As a registered nurse, you can decide to further specialize, entering into one of over 20 different possible specialties to learn more while also finding daily tasks you love.
  • Help People – One of the main reasons that people go into healthcare is to give back to people, helping and curing the sick. As a nurse, you will likely provide personal care to a huge range of individuals, changing the lives of many in small ways throughout your career.It’s truly a noble profession that can be incredibly rewarding. 

These reasons are only the beginning, with the field of nursing affording you the opportunity to make a difference in the world while gaining personal stability. 

What does it mean to be a nurse practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse that has undergone additional training. Most commonly, after earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing and completing the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse, they must then complete an NP-focused doctoral nursing program or graduate masters.

After all of that, they must then sit the nurse practitioner certification exam. Typically, NPs are able to set their specialization early on into their graduate master’s course. As a nurse practitioner, you can select from the following areas of focus:

  • Women’s Health
  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Pediatric
  • Neonatal
  • Family
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care

Most commonly, NPs are certified in an area of primary care, with 88.9% of nurse practitioners having done this.

At this advanced level of nursing, a nurse practitioner can work independently, administering medicines, prescribing medications, and holding full-hospital privileges. 

How long does it take to become a nurse?

The amount of time that it takes to become a nurse depends heavily on the pathway you take, as well as the level of education that you finish at. If we compare different entry pathways on the amount of time it can take you to become a registered nurse, you could be spending the following time in education:

  • ADN pathway – Two years and passing the NCLEX-RN
  • BSN pathway – Four years and passing the NCLEX-RN
  • Military pathway – Working in a military base and studying in a nearby hospital can take between 2-4 years, as well as passing the NCLEX-RN

As you can see, generally, the process can last you between 2-4 years, depending on which qualifications you pursue. After these years, you’ll have the opportunity to take further study to become a nurse practitioner. 

How much does it cost to qualify as a nurse?

The cost for any education in America is location-specific and can vary depending on which education pathway you follow, as well as if you opt for in-state or out-state education. If you study at a private institution, the amount nursing school can cost you may also be significantly higher.

45% of nurses started on the ADN pathway, meaning they undertook two years of education before beginning the role. As ADN courses are offered at a range of community colleges, this pathway is by far the most affordable. 

When pursuing a BSN, you’ll typically be spending anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000 for the four-year cost. Of course, the total amount depends on living costs, student loan payments, private or public, and in-state or out-of-state education.

To get an accurate feel for how much nursing school may cost you, we recommend that you consult the specific institutions that you’re looking at applying to. Often, there are financial aid options or scholarships depending on your academic or social background.

Final Thoughts

Nursing school, with multiple pathways of entry and a range of different educational levels, is far from easy to figure out. In this article, we’ve gone over the key questions you’ll likely be asking yourself when applying to nursing school. We hope this has clarified some of your burning questions, helping you on your path to becoming a registered nurse.

With this knowledge, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the process, helping you apply with ease. 

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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