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What Is The Fastest Way To Become A Nurse?
If you're eager to start your career as a nurse and want to take the most direct route possible, the following guide will help. We'll look at the quickest ways to become a nurse in the United States, getting you into the healthcare industry as soon as possible.
A licensed practical nurse or "LPN" (known as licensed vocational nurse or LVN in Texas and California) is the first step for many students considering a career in nursing.
You don't need to complete a 2 or 4-year nursing degree and can simply enroll in nursing programs at community colleges. They usually last for a year and will cover many of the basics of patient care and anatomy.
You'll get hands-on with the nursing profession and can decide if it's a good fit for you. The fact that it only takes a year to complete means you don't need to worry about changing your mind further down the line. If you finally step into a clinical setting and realize that nursing isn't a good fit, you still have plenty of time to look elsewhere.
If you decide to stick with it, you'll need to complete a nursing degree before moving to the next stage of your career. You can also earn a respectable salary by remaining as an LPN or LVN, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting an average salary of close to $49,000 in 2020, equating to $23.47 an hour.
Can You Become a Nurse in 6 Months?
It doesn't matter how hard you work or how committed you are, you can't become a qualified nurse in just 6 months. This is true for many countries around the world.
Of course, you can become a certified nursing assistant in just a few months, but certified nursing assistants are not nurses and don't make the same money or have the same responsibilities.
An associate degree program is the quickest route to the registered nursing exam. It lasts for two years on average, but you could shorten this schedule if you have already completed an LPN/LVN course (see below) or you earned dual credit in high school.
Of course, while an associate degree is a quicker option than a bachelor's degree, there are limitations. Many employers want nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), and taking that extra step will give you many more options in your nursing career.
Registered Nurse Diploma Programs
A registered nurse diploma takes between two and three years and in the end, you can apply for a registered nursing license.
You'll complete supervised clinical training and will learn essential critical thinking skills and communication skills.
If you want to become a registered nurse in as short of a time as possible, a registered nurse diploma program is a good option.
Can I Be a Registered Nurse in 2 Years?
You can become an RN in two years by completing an associate degree program and then applying for the NCLEX-RN.
You can become an LPN or LVN in half that time.
LPN to ADN Programs
If you have already qualified as an LPN, you can look into LPN to ADN nursing programs. These programs require half the usual amount of credits and allow you to fast-track your nursing career.
Once you have the ADN, you can think about applying for a registered nursing license.
LPN to RN Bridge Programs
Licensed vocational nurses/licensed practical nurses can advance to a registered nurse license through one of these programs.
These nursing courses cover essentials such as pharmacology and patient care and can usually be completed in 2 or 3 years.
Aspiring registered nurses studying part-time will need to wait a little longer.
Accelerated BSN Programs
An accelerated BSN program allows you to attain your bachelor's degree in as little as 12 months, though most take between 2 and 3 years. It depends on the specific program and whether you study full-time or part-time.
These programs are only available if you have completed basic education requirements. You'll be switching professions and moving into a different program, as opposed to starting with a blank slate.
There are other requirements to consider, as well, but if you're coming to nursing from a different profession, it's something you may want to think about.
Bridge BSN Programs
Bridge BSN programs are similar to accelerated programs, but they only apply to students with an existing healthcare education.
If you have experience as a paramedic or therapist, you could apply for one of these nursing programs. You'll skip all of the general education courses and move straight onto the nursing courses, allowing you to fast-track your education.
Summary: How Fast Can I Become a Nurse?
Aspiring nurses must accept that there is no quick and easy way to become a nurse. Nursing degrees can take a couple of years to complete and you'll be working and studying hard throughout that time. If you want to advance your career as far as it can go and get the certifications and licenses that many employers seek, those two years are just the beginning.
Nurses seeking to reach their full potential should look into completing a bachelor's degree and even becoming an advanced practice nurse.
Whatever direction you take, nursing is the perfect career path for ambitious, dedicated, and caring individuals. Not only can you earn a very good salary saving lives and making a difference, but thanks to the nursing shortage and the rapid growth of the US healthcare industry, there are a wealth of opportunities for professional growth.
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