How to Become a Registered Nurse: 5 Steps

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (866) 664-9033.

With NDMU’s Accelerated BSN program, we want to help you answer “what is an RN?” and “how to become a registered nurse?” in five steps. You will need to decide if nursing is right for you, select a program, earn your BSN, pass the NCLEX-RN®, and obtain your nursing license.

two nurses leaning into each other smiling at camera

Do you have questions like “what is a registered nurse” (RN) and “what does an RN do?” If you’re interested in a future as a nurse, but are unsure how to get there, we will help you gain a better understanding of how to become a registered nurse.

Registered nurses often form strong interpersonal connections with their patients. In fact, a Gallup poll reports that nurses have been ranked as the most trusted profession for the 21st year in a row.

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 the opportunity that you’re looking for. Before you decide if our program is a good fit for you, let’s go over the five steps it takes to become a registered nurse.

nurse sitting at desk using laptop

Nurses administer care to patients on a daily basis, in a huge array of clinical environments, so they have to be knowledgeable and quick on their feet. RNs also help to educate patients and their families about their condition, communicate and advise on treatment options, and care for their patients to ensure the best possible outcome. Nurses have a large array of responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, but there are multiple nursing career paths available to those with a BSN and each will vary in roles and responsibilities.

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, as the accelerated nature of the program requires intensive effort.

2. Find the Right Program, and Complete Prerequisite Courses

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.

2 NDMU students smiling while doing coursework

2. 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 advanced practice nurse.

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-RN®

In order to practice as a registered nurse, all graduated nursing students must take and pass the NCLEX-RN®, 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.

2 nursing students in classroom working on classwork

The NCLEX-RN® 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-RN® prep course offered by a variety of colleges and businesses.

5. Get Your License

When you pass the NCLEX-RN®, 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 41 states as of September 2023. The NLC is great for RNs considering a career in travel or telehealth nursing in the United States because it decreases the amount of paperwork they need to do to practice in multiple states.

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.

Are You Ready to Start Accelerated Nursing School?

NDMU nursing student standing in hallway

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. You will be immersed in the world of nursing through online coursework, onsite labs, and clinical rotations that will prepare you to enter the field as a qualified nurse in as few as 15 months.

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.