How to Become a Registered Nurse: 5 Steps

ABSN student in sim lab

If you don’t want to wait to pursue life-changing opportunities as a registered nurse, the 15-month Notre Dame of Maryland University Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program may be just what you’re looking for. If you’re interested in a future as a nurse, but are unsure how to get there, you’ve come to the right place. Before you decide if our program is a good fit for you, let’s go over the five steps to becoming a registered nurse.

1. Decide if Nursing Is the Right Path for You

A job as a nurse isn’t for everyone. You’ll have to find creative solutions to problems, work hard, and treat people from all walks of life. If you are compassionate, empathetic, and determined to make a difference, nursing could be perfect for you.

Nurses work long hours and have to be team players. They handle a variety of complex and urgent situations in one shift and go the extra mile to provide life-changing care. During your time in NDMU’s 15-month ABSN program, you’ll learn how to care for a wide variety of patients and health conditions in a short amount of time. Make sure you’re ready to dedicate your time and attention fully to your nursing education — putting it even before work or family events.

student smiling while studying with friend

2. Find the Right Program, and Complete Prerequisite Courses

As you probably gathered, our program requires commitment, dedication, and persistence. Because you’ll be getting a high-quality education that implements all the content a four-year degree program would entail in just over a year, you’ll need to be willing to hit the ground running.

But don’t worry too much: we will be there every step of the way. The rigorous nature of the program is one reason why we require a series of prerequisite courses to be completed before you even start your nursing classes. These courses lay a solid foundation upon which you can build your nursing education.

3. Earn Your BSN

The Notre Dame of Maryland University ABSN program offers a well-rounded education that prepares you to enter the field as a confident nurse. Through online or in-person coursework, you’ll build a solid understanding of nursing theory. During your time in skills labs and simulation labs, you’ll put that knowledge into action through role-playing. You’ll handle state-of-the-art equipment to practice what it’s like working as a nurse in a supervised and controlled environment.

While it’s true registered nurses may hold either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to work as an RN, employers often favor hiring nurses with BSNs. Holding a BSN also empowers you to take the next steps to continue your education if you want to become a nurse practitioner or other type of advanced practice nurse.

Notre Dame of Maryland University nursing student working in sim lab

Furthermore, earning your BSN will help you get your foot in the door through your clinical placements. During this time, you’ll work in a health care setting with a team of medical professionals to get used to the day-to-day demands of the job.

4. Pass the NCLEX

In order to practice as a registered nurse, all graduated nursing students must take and pass the NCLEX, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

The test, which has a minimum of 75 questions, is used to see if you're ready for entry-level nursing. If you don't get a passing score after the first round, you'll have to answer up to 265 questions.

The NCLEX includes questions on basic care and comfort, illness prevention and detection, coping and adaptability, and pharmaceutical therapy. You may locate practice exams online or in books, or you can enroll in an NCLEX prep course offered by a variety of colleges and businesses.

5. Get Your License

When you pass the NCLEX, you will be able to receive RN licensing in the state where you intend to work. Keep in mind each state has its own unique criteria, fee requirements, and length of time needed to receive a license. The Nurse Licensure Compact is something else to consider. With a compact nursing license, nurses can obtain a multistate license and practice in any state that is a member of the alliance under this program. NLC legislation has been adopted in 34 states. The NLC is a great for RNs considering a career in travel or telehealth nursing in the United States because it’ll decrease the amount of paperwork they need to do to practice in multiple locations.

Once you are a licensed RN, your nursing journey may not be over. In the first few years of your practice, you’ll get an idea of what specializations in nursing you may want to focus on, where your strengths lie, and where you want your nursing future to go.

nursing student using stethoscope

Are You Ready to Start Accelerated Nursing School?

If your calling is to become a nurse, the Notre Dame of Maryland University ABSN program can help you get well on your way to a fulfilling career. Now that you know how to become a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree, it’s time to put that into action and follow your dream of becoming a nurse.

Contact us today to learn more about our accelerated BSN programs in Baltimore and start on your path to earning a BSN.