What Training Is Needed To Become A Registered Nurse?


Registered nurses have the critical responsibility of carrying out complex hospital tasks like administering medication, formulating and implementing care plans, patient education, counseling among other duties. They facilitate the treatment process by acting as the most important co-workers of doctors and physicians.

Registered Nurse Training Explained

Contrary to many beliefs, registered nurse training is not a just a mere program of learning how to take care of patients. It has more attached to as outlined by the kind of training nurses receive before being licensed to practice as nurses. The education path required is quite challenging and is almost equivalent to what doctors undergo in med school.

The Three Paths to Become a RN

There are three typical paths which student can choose to follow to become RNs. Upon completion of any of the below programs, prospective RNs must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

i)        Diploma in Nursing

This is the lowest level of education a RN can start off with. A diploma program in nursing is usually administered in a hospital setting contrary to classroom education. It is unique in that the nurse trainee is confined to the hospital and learns what RNs do from practical. This type of entry-level to become a RN is not common and there are very few diploma programs in nursing

ii)      Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

This is a very popular path preferred by many Registered Nurses. This nursing program is offered by junior colleges and takes about 2 to 3 years to complete the curriculum. The course details involve theoretical class lessons and an in-depth supervised clinical practicum. The study scope for RNs who take this path is wider as compared to those who opt for the Diploma programs. The biggest advantage to Registered Nurses who take this program is that there are better advancing opportunities by enrolling for RN to BSN programs.

iii)    Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing gives a RN much specialized training on other broader fields of nursing like leadership, interpersonal skills and policy making. Students who choose this path must be ready to undertake four years of study inclusive of the clinical attachment. A BSN is more relevant when a student wishes to assume more organizational positions like tutoring, nurse consultant, and medical researcher among others.

Major Training Courses for Registered Nurses

Regardless of which training path taken is taken to become a RN, there are common curriculum courses that all RN trainees must be trained on.  They are the basic nursing concepts with the exception of those on organizational and administrative roles. All of these courses cover the major issues which a nurse must handle in their line of duty.

Even though all aspects of nursing are taught at ASN and BSN level, they do not go into extremely deep details. Such depth is covered when RNs wish to be trained and specialize in one specific line of study to become Advanced Practice RNs. In summary, such courses include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology

These are the most important foundation courses of nursing. RN trainees are trained using cadavers, the anatomy of the human body. These basic courses take the better part of the first year of nursing school. Physiology is also taught in the first and second years and students are trained on all basic life processes, diseases processes/pathology.

  • Pharmacology and Medical terminology

RNs must be trained on the use of common medications and treatments in the hospital setting. Because RNs have the mandate to administer treatment to patients, the study of pharmacology is a must for all RNs. It involves a lot of chemistry and organic chemistry and a mastery of medical terminologies used by doctors.

  • General Health Promotion Courses

Upon certification and licensure, RNs work not only in the hospital but also in communities, homecare settings and as occupational nurses. As such, they must be trained on how to handle special issues e.g. children, the elderly, occupational patients, nutrition education and the disabled. They must be well acquainted with skills to teach the public on disease mitigation measures.

  • Special Patients’ Care Courses

These include slight training in a wide range of special attention cases. A RN must at least be able to handle different patient cases even in the absence of an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or a Specialist Nurse. It is therefore important for any RN to have an insight on pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, gerontology, geriatrics and midwifery. As mentioned earlier, these are not taught in depth but are advancement opportunities for Registered Nurses who would want to take a MSN and become advanced practice registered nurses.

  • Laboratory methods

Finally, RNs like all medical personnel must be trained on common laboratory techniques. They must be trained on safe sample collection and testing for most common ailments.

Advanced Training for RNs

RNs have good chances to advance and get trained on specific lines of duty. There are numerous RN to MSN programs that allow a trained RN to get to the levels of a NS or APRN.

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