April 27, 2021  | Updated: July 19, 2021

Category: Medical Careers, Nurses

IN A NUTSHELL:

  • Nursing apprenticeship is alternative to nursing degree
  • Know the personal skills you need as well as professional skills
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN

If you are considering a career in nursing, before you think about how to obtain your nursing accreditation there are several factors to consider.

Start by asking yourself why you want to become a nurse and what attracts you to the profession. It is important to fully understands the various skill sets that are required to excel in a nursing career:

What personal skills are required?

You will need more than a degree in nursing if you want to succeed in this profession. You will also need to possess the following essential personal characteristics.

1.   Care and compassion

Nurses and other healthcare professionals are motivated by compassion. Indeed, you can gain an enormous sense of satisfaction by caring for others. This defines what you do each day.

2.   Communication skills

As a nurse, you will be expected to solve problems on a daily basis. However, your ability to do this will often depend on your communication and listening skills. You will be dealing with a variety of patients with a range of different needs. Understanding and helping them will require effective verbal and written communication skills.

3.   Flexibility and resilience

The role of a nurse is anything but boring as each shift can present unexpected situations and challenges. As a result, the ability to multi-task will prove invaluable. Every day will be a test of your character and patience. You will be confronted by constant challenges that can drain you emotionally. However, the rewards will continue to push you forward.

How can I become a registered nurse?

There are two ways you can become a registered nurse.

1.   Nursing degree

Obtaining a nursing degree is your best way of finding employment in the healthcare industry. Usually, candidates find a job within six months of graduating. In addition, qualified nurses enjoy more freedom in relation to their career choices; the nursing degree will enable you to practice in several countries outside your own.

You will also have the option of working:

  • Full-time or part-time
  • In the public or private sector
  • In a hospital or clinic

You may also be able to decide on how many hours you want to work.

Before you study for a nursing degree, you will need to complete your high school or secondary education. Meanwhile, the nursing degree itself can take three or four years to complete.

2.   Nursing apprenticeship

While a nursing degree is the most popular option, it is also expensive. Fortunately, there is an alternative. An apprenticeship offers nursing students the opportunity to make money while they train. Working in a hospital or clinic, you will receive proper training while completing your nursing degree. As a nursing apprentice, you will be allowed to perform simple duties. Think of it as hands-on training with the added bonus of getting paid!

As your knowledge and skills expand, you will be given more advanced duties and responsibilities. You will also obtain:

  • Mentoring from senior nursing staff
  • Relevant experience in a real-life healthcare environment
  • Essential patient care expertise

What are the duties of a nurse apprentice?

Most of your tasks will focus on administration and everyday patient care, including:

  • Helping patients walk in and out of their room and move around the building
  • Collecting samples and specimens for testing
  • Assisting in the transportation of patients
  • Setting beds
  • Bathing and dressing your patients
  • Providing intravenous (IV) fluids to your patients
  • Conducting electrocardiograms (ECGs or EKGs)
  • Checking and recording a patient’s vital signs, including their fluid intake and output
  • Removing or replacing bandages, stitches or staples

Nursing apprentices will be expected to attend staff meetings while assisting in the planning of patient care. As your skills improve, you will be given more complicated responsibilities. While under supervision, you can administer medication or perform catheterizations.

While an apprenticeship is a popular option in Europe, these programs are still gaining ground in the United States.

3.   Practical nursing program

If you have obtained a four-year degree and are interested in becoming a registered nurse, the NCLEX-RN is your way in. Community colleges also offer practical nursing programs. Once you have completed this program, you can take the NCLEX-RN to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN).  An LPN is a licensed nurses but has less responsibility than RNs and NPs.

It may be wise to do additional research on credentialing to see how advanced licensing can benefit you. Moreover, even if you already hold RN or NP status, continuing education opportunities may be what you need to set you apart from other nurse candidates.

What should you expect as a nursing student?

Many nurses remember the amount of psychological information they were expected to assimilate as students. The training also involves lots of hands-on experience, such as:

  • Moving patients
  • Giving injections
  • Monitoring patients and equipment

What are your career options as a newly qualified and accredited nurse?

Qualified nurses can easily secure a permanent position within a medical organization. You will have a choice of settings, such as:

  • Hospital wards
  • Clinics
  • Outpatient units
  • Nursing homes
  • Specialist departments
  • General surgery

There are also other environments where qualified nurses are welcome, such as:

  • Schools
  • Police service
  • Prisons
  • Cruise ships

Choosing the private sector

Although working for the government has its advantages, many nurses prefer to work in the private sector. There are various reasons for this, including:

  • Less red tape
  • More manageable caseloads
  • More time to provide personalized care

How to work as a registered nurse in the US

There is a growing shortage of qualified nurses in countries such as the UK and the US. However, before you can work abroad, you must comply with the host country’s immigration laws. If you are from overseas, you can work as a registered nurse in the US as long as you:

  • Possess all the required educational qualifications
  • Take and successfully pass an English language proficiency test (if required)
  • Pass the credentials evaluation
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN
  • Contact a US-based employer or a recruiting agency
  • Secure an RN immigrant visa or green card
  • Pass the RN visa interview and medical check
  • Accept the offer of an RN position

The basic educational requirements often include being:

  • An accredited nursing graduate
  • A duly licensed registered nurse
  • A practicing RN for a minimum of two years

Only a few US states require a credentials evaluation report. However, in case you do need it, here are the criteria:

  • English proficiency
  • Secondary school documents
  • Documentary proof of your nursing education and license
  • Required fee

Conclusion

Nursing is a career where you must be dedicated to providing compassionate care to your patients. While obtaining a degree can help you secure a nursing license, you will also need specific personal characteristics, the most important of which are compassion and a caring attitude. Flexibility, resilience and excellent communication skills are also essential.

Besides the nursing degree, there are other paths to becoming a registered nurse. You can join an apprenticeship program, while those with a four-year degree are also eligible; you only need to take and pass the NCLEX-RN. Once qualified, you can choose where to work and for how many hours.

As with any field in healthcare, it is important to effectively manage your career, licenses, and reputation.

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