Due to a growing need for preventative healthcare services and a nationwide shortage of nurses, the demand for registered nurses (RNs) is currently at an all time high. In fact, the American Nurses Association estimates the healthcare industry will need an additional 1.13 million nurses to enter the workforce by 2022 to meet the high demand.
For others in nursing, such as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), the increasing demand for RNs can prove an excellent motivator to continue your education and take advantage of a booming occupation field. Take a look below to see why you may want to consider becoming an RN with a quick walkthrough of what it takes to get there.
Why a CNA Might Consider Becoming an RN
RNs are capable of earning more than double the salary of a CNA each year, depending on location and amount of experience. The median salary for a certified nursing assistant in 2016 was $26,590, while the median salary for a registered nurse was $68,450, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Another great way to increase salary as a nurse is to become a traveling nurse. While salary figures vary for traveling nurses, they typically earn more money than those with permanent positions.
Nursing is a relatively flexible career path that can work well with many lifestyles. While nurses that have just started their careers might not get first choice, there are still several shift options including evenings, weekends, and middle shifts. Plus, since demand is fairly high across the country, there are great opportunities in travel nursing.
RNs enjoy increased career flexibility compared to CNAs due to the various specialties and growth opportunities available to them. RNs can continue to work in different specialties to find which one works best for their career.
With so many different specialties in nursing, many nurses have the ability to explore new career opportunities. Certified nursing assistants also have specialty areas to choose from, but are much more limited on what they are able to do. For CNAs looking for new opportunities, becoming an RN is a great way to open more doors.
For registered nurses, it’s also easier to switch to another field of work or earn a more advanced degree since you’re already at a higher level of education.
How to Become an RN
Complete an Accredited Registered Nurse Program
To become a registered nurse, you must first graduate from an accredited program. When it comes to specific programs, there are several options for prospective students, including nursing diplomas, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees.
An associate degree in nursing will typically take about two years to complete, but there are also accelerated programs where you can earn a degree in a shorter period of time. A bachelor’s degree in nursing takes about four years, but also involves a more in-depth education that could prove useful for those who want to move into administration, advanced nursing, or research roles.
CNA-RN Bridge Programs
If you’re already a certified nursing assistant, there are programs designed specifically to help people like you become a registered nurse. These CNA-RN Bridge Programs shorten the time it takes to complete the program and allow you to earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing and be eligible to take the RN exam.
Pass the NCLEX-RN Examination
CNA-RN Bridge Programs and other registered nursing programs should all help prepare you to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Upon graduation, you’ll want to register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to sign up for your exam.
Here’s what you’ll need to be prepared for with the NCLEX-RN Exam:
- Average of 119 questions
- Must be completed in six hours
- Those who do not pass must wait at least 45 days to retake the exam
- National average NCLEX-RN passage rate is around 70 percent
Obtain a State License
Every state in the US requires employed registered nurses to have a proper license. Requirements for a license vary by state, so nurses should contact their state board or check out this helpful tool to discover the requirements in their area.
In an effort to make things easier for nurses who move across state lines, certain states have joined efforts to make licensing more simplified with the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). There are currently 25 compact nursing states that allow nurses to practice in participating states as long as they obtained a license in one of them.
Find a Job
Once you’ve completed everything above, all that’s left is to find yourself a job. Fortunately, since registered nurses are in high demand throughout the country, you should have plenty of options for your first job.
Become a Travel Nurse
Whether you’re a certified nursing assistant or a registered nurse, there is another great way to earn more money and increase your career flexibility. A career as a traveling nurse will allow you to travel across the country to new and exciting places, and you’ll be able to earn more money while doing so.
LRS Healthcare offers excellent salaries, benefits, and the opportunity to bonuses for CNAs and RNs alike. If you’re interested in becoming a traveling nurse, contact us today!