Five Steps to Become a Registered Nurse (RN) in the USA
Are you an internationally-educated nurse, or know someone, who is interested in becoming a Registered Nurse in the United States?
If so, this is important for you to know!
Like all aspiring nurses, regardless of educational background, everyone has to take the NCLEX®.
Here are five steps you must take to qualify for the NCLEX®-RN.
- Apply for a nursing license with a U.S. State Board of Nursing
- Evaluate your Nursing Qualifications with the CGFNS, IERF, or ERES.(depending on the state that you chose for Step #1)
- Pay the Fees for the Application
- Wait for your Authorization to Test (ATT)
- Select an NCLEX Test Center
If you want to know more about the process or what to do for each step, don’t worry! We will be cover each step in detail throughout the month. Stay tuned!
- Complete an Accredited Registered Nursing Program
Your first step into becoming a Registered Nurse is to complete an accredited registered Nursing program. There are many degrees that you can complete to be an RN, such as: an RN Diploma, Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree, and an Accelerated Nursing Program for aspiring nurses who have completed a Bachelor’s Degree. The fastest way to become a Registered Nurse is an RN Diploma and an Associate’s Degree (ADN). Both degrees often take 2 years to complete. However, most RN Diplomas are offered online or technical schools; they are also hospital-based, while ADN programs are often given by colleges. A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) often takes 4 years to complete. Lastly, an Accelerated Nursing Program can take 12-18 months to complete. However, you should always check your state Board of Nursing educational requirements to be a Registered Nurse.
- Optional: For Foreign Educated Nurses, Take the CGFNS
If you completed an Registered Nursing program in another country, you must complete the CGFNS®’s Certificate Program. The Certificate Program includes the CGFNS® Qualifying Exam, a credentials evaluation of secondary and nursing education and registration, and an accepted English language proficiency exam. Once you have completed the Certificate Program, you can now take the NCLEX®!
- Register for the NCLEX®
The NCLEX® is a state licensure exam to be a Registered Nurse. Before you can take the NCLEX, you will need an Authorization to Test (ATT). You would need to apply to your board of nursing to get an ATT; you will also need to register with Pearson Vue. After registering and paying the fee for the NCLEX®, you will receive your Authorization to Test.
- Pass the NCLEX®
After registering for the NCLEX®, you need to prepare for it. While the national pass rate in 2017 for all types of candidates is 72.11%, the NCLEX® is not an easy test. It is recommended to take at least 2-3 months to review for the NCLEX-RN®. The NCLEX-RN® exam is a computerized adaptive test (CAT), which means the computer selects questions based on your ability and competence as demonstrated on your answer to the previous question.
Most of the questions on the NCLEX-RN/LPN are written at the application and analysis level. Test questions integrate the nursing process and the four client needs.
NCLEX®-RN/LPN questions will be presented in a variety of formats such as multiple choice, multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, calculation, drag and drop, and/or hot spot. Questions may include multimedia such as charts, tables, graphics, sound and video.
It is important that you plan your review wisely. It can be overwhelming to prepare for the NCLEX-RN® alone; thus, it is suggested that you sign up for a review course to help you with your preparations for the NCLEX.
- Find an employer
Once you have passed the NCLEX, you must find an employer. Apply to vacancies in your local hospital, clinic or nursing home. Staffing Agencies are a great tool and could help speed up your search for a job.