Nursing is an incredibly rewarding career path, in terms of both personal and professional growth. In fact, registered nursing is rated #18 out of the 100 best jobs in the United States today, due to its bright job outlook, high job satisfaction, and opportunity for advancement in the field.
Whether you are looking to start on a college education or make a change in your career path, now is the right time to become a nurse. The baby boomer population is aging, and the need for qualified nurses is on the rise as a result. You can make a difference in the lives of others. The question is, how do you get started? In this article, Goodwin College breaks down how to become a nurse in Connecticut, and how to land the nursing career of your dreams.
- Get an education.
There are three educational pathways you can take to become a nurse in Connecticut. According to the CT League of Nursing, these include earning a college degree or a diploma in nursing. Each program level varies in length and depth of the curriculum, though will qualify you to sit for the state’s nursing licensing exam. Below, we outline the three different routes you can take to become a nurse:
- Diploma in Nursing (24 months) – Some hospitals offer diploma programs for aspiring nurses, in which students take their nursing courses at the hospital and complete their general education courses at a local college. While once very common, hospital-based diploma programs are becoming less available across the state of Connecticut. This is because, with just a few more courses, students can round off their education and earn an associate degree in Nursing (ADN).
- Associate Degree in Nursing (typically 24 months) – An associate degree in Nursing is the standard requirement for Connecticut RNs today, as well as the most popular path to become a nurse in the state. ADN programs are generally two-years in length, though some nursing schools offer flexible course formats that can be completed in even less time. This is generally the most cost-effective pathway towards becoming an RN.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (typically 4 years) – More and more healthcare employers are looking to hire nurses who have a Bachelor’s in Nursing, or BSN, degree. In fact, almost 80 percent of employers in Connecticut express a strong preference for BSN graduates. This is because bachelor degree programs offer more advanced nursing courses, highlighting topics such as research, physical assessment, community healthcare, critical thinking, and nursing leadership. As a newly aspiring nurse, you can enroll in a four-year BSN program off the bat, or choose to get your ADN, get into the workforce, and then enroll in an RN-to-BSN program later on, when you are ready to advance your education.
In all nursing programs, you can expect to take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, social sciences, and liberal arts. You can also expect some level of hands-on, supervised clinical training. No matter which path you take to become a nurse, you will be asked to complete a few general education requirements in addition to your nursing coursework. To enroll in Goodwin’s nursing school, for example, you must have successfully completed basic Math, Chemistry, Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology within the last five years.
The right nursing program for you will ultimately depend on your career goals and ability to commit to college. Any of the above programs will make you eligible to sit for the state’s licensing examination. However, keep in mind that most employers today expect at least an ADN degree from nurses, and a BSN degree can position you for even greater job prospects and growth.
- Earn your license as a Registered Nurse.
In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, you must earn a nursing license in order to become a practicing Registered Nurse. To become licensed, you must graduate from an accredited and approved nursing program, as well as pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
The NCLEX exam is a standardized, computer-based test that is used nationally to determine whether a nurse is prepared to enter the field. It is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and covers three levels of comprehension: your basic knowledge of nursing, your ability to analyze and apply your knowledge, and your application of rules and processes to identify the best practice of care. Successful completion of this exam will grant you the official title of a licensed Registered Nurse, which will enable you to start working with real patients in an active care setting. It will also enable you to apply to a BSN level program, should you wish to continue your education.
- Ensure you have the skills needed to stand out.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses are in high demand, and job opportunities are expected to increase in the coming years. At the same time, however, the supply of new nurses entering the workforce has also increased in recent years. This has resulted in more competition for registered nursing jobs. Therefore, in addition to having the education and certification required to become a nurse, you should also have the skillsets needed to stand out to potential employers:
- Critical-thinking skills – Part of the nursing job description involves thinking on the spot, assessing changes in patients quickly, and determining the best corrective action. That said, critical thinking skills are a must for aspiring nurses.
- Communication skills – Nurses work in part with a larger healthcare team, consisting of doctors, medical assistants, and other medical staff. Thus, they must be able to communicate effectively with their team. More significantly, nurses must be able to communicate with patients, in order to understand their concerns, assess health conditions, explain treatments and care instructions, and answer any questions that may arise.
- Compassion –Nurses care for the sick, the injured, the disabled, and people who are generally at a weak point in their lives. Nurses should therefore be caring and empathetic when looking after patients, as well as when speaking to their families.
- Organization and attention to detail –From administering the correct treatments to giving medications at the right times of day, nurses must be accountable, organized, and detail oriented in all regards to patient care.
- Emotional stability –To be successful in their role, nurses must maintain emotional resilience and the ability to manage their emotions when faced with emergencies, patient suffering, and other emotional stresses.
- Physical stamina – Nurses are on their feet for most of their day-to-day, and therefore should be comfortable staying active throughout the facility and performing physical tasks, such as lifting or transporting patients.
Become a Nurse with Goodwin College
Goodwin College is an accredited nursing school in Greater Hartford, Connecticut. Our career-focused nursing programs – from the associate to the master’s level – are recognized by employers across the state. If you are interested in becoming a Registered Nurse in Connecticut, you can start your path at Goodwin College and finish your associate degree within 20-months part-time. You can also choose to advance your degree with our RN-to-BSN program (just 16-months part-time to complete), and eventually our Master’s in Nursing program should you wish to grow in your career.
If you pursue a degree at Goodwin College, we can also help you in landing the career of your dreams. We have close partnerships with leading hospitals and healthcare facilities across the state of Connecticut, so that networking for the right nursing job doesn’t ever feel out of reach. We also have a dedicated Career Services team who can help you find and apply for nursing jobs, and those services last for life.
Ready to get started? Contact us at 800-889-3282 to learn more about the different nursing degrees available at Goodwin College.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.