What are the Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse?

Dreaming of becoming a registered nurse, but not sure where to even begin? You’ve come to the right place! Read over this four-step process to becoming a registered nurse.

Step 1 – Apply to Nursing Schools

Once you have decided that you are determined to become a registered nurse, you will need to apply to nursing programs. There are many different educational tracks and you will need to research available nursing school options. As you are making a choice about where to go to nursing school, try and keep an open mind and be flexible. You should apply to a few different programs so that your chances of being accepted to one are increased as for nursing programs are competitive. There is usually a cost associated with applying so be sure to carefully select the programs you apply to. Options to consider include whether the program is an accredited nursing program, length of time to complete courses, cost of training, location of school and clinical sites, and the degree you will attain upon completion.

Throughout high school, I knew that my future goal was to become a registered nurse. My guidance counselor kept trying to convince me to consider medical school because I was among the top five in my class, but I was not interested in this avenue. My mother insisted that I apply to at least two or three programs. I received my first college letter from the school I was planning on attending and was completely devastated to find that I was accepted to the school, but wait-listed for the nursing program. I was so shocked and scared that my dream would never come true. My mother suggested I apply to the local community college nursing program as a backup, I eventually completed the application, knowing all along that I did not really want to go there. On the day I finished the application, I receive a letter from the second school I applied to. Scared to know, I slowly read the letter. To my disbelief, I was accepted to Rutgers University. I was excited, but still concerned because this was not my preferred location, but after an open house and speaking with current students, I realized that this was an amazing opportunity and quickly enrolled. So keep an open mind about which program you want to go to.

Step 2 – Complete Training

Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse


Depending on the program you attend, your training will take anywhere from one to four years. Now is the time to buckle down and study hard. You will be learning a lot of new materials and you need to stay focused. Identify which study habits work best for you and implement them consistently throughout your training.

Step 3 – Apply for Your Registered Nurse License

Each state has different requirements for registered nurses, so be sure to learn what your state requires. For example, you may be required to have a background check done which usually consists of paperwork and finger printing. Once you have successfully completed your training and all of the state requirements, you will be ready to test. Your state license will not be issued until you successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Step 4 – Complete the NCLEX-RN Exam

Steps to Becoming a Registered Nurse

All of your training and studying has helped to prepare you to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you have met all of the NCLEX-RN requirements, you will be able to schedule your exam. This is the final step before you can apply for a position to practice as an independent registered nurse. Be sure that you have prepared for your NCLEX-RN exam so that you can succeed on the first attempt.

If you are determined to become a registered nurse, then you will succeed. Be flexible and follow your dreams. Success is yours to achieve.