How to Get an RN License
To work as a registered nurse, or RN, you must obtain an RN license. Regardless of which state you live in, you must have a valid RN license to obtain employment. However, there is more than one path that you can take to do so. Although the process may seem complicated, it is easier than you probably think. By knowing what to expect, you will have a much easier time. Learn how to get an RN license with the below steps.
Choose Your Educational Path - You must complete an accredited training program to be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. You have options, however, as there are two primary ways to go about doing this. The shorter, simpler way is to earn your associate degree in nursing, or ADN, which typically requires about two years of training. The longer, more involved way is to earn your bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, which takes around four years. These days, employers are increasingly hiring BSN RNs because they receive more thorough and involved training. If you ever want to move into an area of specialization or advance into a master's or doctoral degree, earning your BSN is the way to go.
Find a Training Program - After deciding between pursuing an ADN or a BSN, you need to find a program through which you can complete your training. It is crucial to select a program that is properly accredited. Ideally, the program that you select will be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN; the Commission in Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE; or both. Further, the right program will specifically be approved by your state board of nursing. Otherwise, upon completion, you may not be eligible to sit for the licensing exam.
Regardless of which type of program you choose to complete, consider one that includes an online portion for convenience and to save time. The best programs offer asynchronous training, which means that you can complete your work on your own schedule.
Complete Your Training - Without question, your RN training is one of the most important things that you will do to develop your career. ADN and BSN programs alike are designed with the NCLEX-RN licensing exam in mind. Upon completing your training, you should be fully prepared to take and pass the exam. Both types of programs are intense, so it is crucial to complete all of your work and to do your very best every step of the way. Your training will include classroom lectures, labs and clinical training at local health care facilities. In addition to preparing you for the exam, then, your training will also provide a glimpse into what it is like to work as an RN. You will have plenty of opportunities to figure out which aspects of the job you like the most and to otherwise prepare yourself for employment.
Take and Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam - While you are still completing your training, register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Depending on your program, you may be able to sign up to take the NCLEX-RN before you even graduate. Otherwise, you must sign up to take it through the same organization. You will receive an Authorization to Test notification once you graduate from your training program.
Nationally, the NCLEX-RN has a pass rate of between 70 and 75 percent. You will be given a maximum of six hours to complete the exam, which includes an average of around 120 questions. If you do not pass it the first time, you must wait 45 days before taking it again. It is obviously best to pass it the first time around. In the days and weeks leading up to the exam, buddy up with fellow students to do some additional studying. The more time that you devote to studying, the better your odds will be of passing the exam the first time.
Obtain Your RN License - The process of obtaining your RN license is pretty straightforward. Your test results will automatically be sent to your state board of nursing. If you pass the NCLEX-RN, your license should automatically be approved and sent to you in the mail within a few weeks. Oftentimes, it is available online sooner than that. In some states, you must also complete a criminal background check to obtain your license.
Know what to expect by contacting your state board of nursing ahead of time. Ask them how quickly RN licenses are issued after passing the NCLEX-RN, and find out if there are any additional steps that you must take to apply for your license.
If you are starting from square one, getting an RN license can seem like a far-off dream. However, by following the steps that are listed above and working hard, you may be able to obtain your RN license in as little as two years.