Completing a nursing program is well-worth the time and effort needed for such a rewarding profession. The length of time spent in a learning program can vary from just one year to upwards of 4 years and more based on individual factors.
Keep in mind many programs may have a waiting list up to one year, so you don’t always just apply and get started. You may have to wait to be accepted into the program
In order to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), one year of combined classroom instruction with hands-on patient training will prepare you for the licensing exam called NCLEX-PN. Passing this exam grants you an LPN license. The one year preparation courses will include basic anatomy, basic nursing, and an introduction to geriatric care, pharmaceuticals, patient health and safety measures. LPN certification can be accomplished through community colleges and technical schools, and will allow you to find an entry-level position to gain more experience. At that time you can decide whether or not you want to continue on to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
RN training will require an LPN to continue on with schooling, either part-time or full-time. By obtaining a 2 year Associates degree or a 4 year Bachelors degree in nursing, one can become qualified to be an RN. After earning your degree, you will be eligible to complete the National Council Licensure Examination, the NCLEX-RN. It is a comprehensive exam covering all aspects of your learning. Generally, you are given a period of time from your graduation to study for the exam. Depending upon your study habits, you can take the test within a few days, or sometimes up until a year or more before your eligibility to take the exam would expire. Upon passing this test – which can take several hours to complete, you will officially be licensed as a registered nurse (RN). RN’s generally work in hospital settings.
Upon becoming a registered nurse, most nurses remain in that position until retirement. There are opportunities to continue into leadership and supervisory positions with further schooling, which can be accomplished part-time and at leisure.
Keep in mind there are several prerequisite courses in school that are not part of the clinical program, but may be needed, based on an individual’s prior school records. It is not uncommon for a student that is applying to a nursing program to be required to take a few semesters’ worth of college courses in subjects such as English, Pharmacology 101, and Math. This needs to be considered, as many students enter a nursing program under the assumption that the time frames stated above are exact, when in fact, they may not be the same for everyone. One student may enter a two-year program with all of the necessary general classes already taken, so the program length is two years. Another student without much schooling experience might find that that it will take three years from start to finish to get through the 2 year program, as he or she may need to take some general courses first.
As you can see, the length of a program may vary, but you will find that the general rule of thumb is a one year program for an LPN and a 2-4 year program for an RN.