How to Become A Registered Nurse in The USA?

Registered Nurse

With the demographic shift towards an ageing population, the demand for skilled healthcare providers, particularly those with a BSN degree, is poised to surge.

This surge is accentuated by the rising prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, which necessitate specialized care and continuous monitoring. Choosing to become a Registered Nurse or RN is an astute decision driven by a confluence of factors that promise a fulfilling and in-demand profession.

The ongoing shortage of resources to educate new nurses amplifies the urgency of filling this gap with qualified professionals. As a result, RNs enjoy a landscape ripe with abundant job opportunities and career advancement prospects.

The dynamic nature of the healthcare field ensures a stimulating work environment, where no two days are alike. RNs find themselves at the forefront of patient care, making critical decisions and fostering healing relationships.

Furthermore, the rewards of an RN career extend beyond the financial aspect. The immeasurable satisfaction derived from making a positive impact on patients’ lives is unparalleled.

The ability to alleviate suffering, promote wellness, and be a beacon of comfort for individuals and families is a source of profound gratification.

All You Need to Know to Become An RN

Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) in the USA involves a well-defined educational pathway, licensure exams, clinical experience, and a promising career trajectory.

Here’s a comprehensive guide outlining the steps, challenges, and opportunities on the journey to becoming an RN:

1. Educational Pathways

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Many aspiring RNs opt for a BSN program offered by universities and colleges. A BSN degree typically takes four years to complete and provides a comprehensive education in nursing theory, clinical practice, and leadership skills.

BSN graduates are well-prepared for a wide range of nursing roles and often have better career prospects.

Associate Degree in Nursing

ADN programs, usually spanning 2-3 years, provide a more condensed curriculum focused on essential nursing skills and clinical training.

While ADN graduates can become RNs, some employers prefer or require candidates with a BSN due to its broader scope of education.

2. Licensure Exams

NCLEX-RN: The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is a standardized exam administered by state nursing boards.

It assesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to practice safely and effectively as an entry-level RN. Successfully passing the NCLEX-RN is a crucial step toward obtaining a nursing license.

3. Clinical Rotations

Both BSN and ADN programs include clinical rotations, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in various healthcare settings. These rotations provide invaluable exposure to real-world patient care scenarios, enhance clinical skills, and develop critical thinking abilities.

4. Difficulty Level of Clearing NCLEX

The difficulty level of clearing the NCLEX-RN varies from individual to individual. It requires a solid grasp of nursing fundamentals, critical thinking, and the ability to apply knowledge to practical situations.

Preparing adequately through nursing programs, study resources, and practice exams can significantly improve the chances of success.

5. What to Expect

Intensive Study

Nursing programs demand dedication and rigorous study. Students can expect a blend of classroom lectures, hands-on labs, and clinical rotations.

A nurse who has cleared the licensure exam in later attempts is more resourceful than a textbook-savvy nurse.

Time Management

Balancing coursework, clinical rotations, and personal life requires effective time management and organizational skills. This is one aspect that cannot be emphasized enough as it is imperative without stressing.

Clinical Experience

Clinical rotations provide exposure to different healthcare settings, fostering adaptability and confidence in patient care.

Real patients with practical clinical problems offer a plethora of learning opportunities in comparison to an example in the textbook.


Nursing is a collaborative profession. Expect to work closely with healthcare teams, patients, and families to provide comprehensive care.

6. Career Growth


After gaining experience, RNs can choose to specialize in areas like paediatrics, geriatrics, critical care, oncology, and more. With focussed credentials, the career pathways widen as hospitals are always looking for expertise over common.

Advanced Practice Roles

RNs can pursue advanced degrees (Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice) to become Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Anesthetists, or Nurse Midwives, allowing for increased autonomy and responsibility.

7. Non-Clinical Jobs

Nurse Educators

Educators play a vital role in training the next generation of nurses, either in academic institutions or clinical settings.

Nurse Administrators

These professionals manage healthcare facilities, overseeing operations, budgets, and staff.

Nurse Informaticists

Combining nursing expertise with technology, informaticists manage and optimize healthcare information systems.

Case Managers

RNs in this role coordinate patient care, collaborating with healthcare providers to ensure comprehensive and efficient treatment.

8. Preparation

Nursing Programs

Choose a reputable nursing program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Choosing an accessible nursing program ensures that aspiring nurses can easily engage in coursework, clinical training, and support services.

Accessibility promotes inclusivity, accommodates diverse learning needs, and enables students to excel without unnecessary barriers, ultimately contributing to a more diverse and well-prepared nursing workforce.


Utilize study resources such as review books, practice exams, and online courses specifically designed to prepare for the NCLEX-RN.

Clinical Practice

Embrace clinical rotations as opportunities to apply classroom knowledge in real healthcare settings.

Critical Thinking

Develop strong critical thinking skills to analyze complex patient situations and make informed decisions.

Lifelong Learning

Nursing is an evolving field. Stay updated with the latest medical advancements, guidelines, and practices through continuing education.


The path may seem tough and no doubt needs dedicated hours and efforts from aspirants who want to become a registered nurse. Albeit, once licensed you explore various nursing roles and specialties, considering advanced degrees for career growth. Embrace continuous learning to stay updated in this dynamic field.

Prioritize patient-centred care, critical thinking, and effective communication. Your journey to becoming an RN is a rewarding path of compassion, skill, and dedication, offering a fulfilling career contributing to healthcare and impacting lives of the patients while alleviating their pain.