It’s no secret that nurses are a critical part of our healthcare system. They provide one-on-one patient care every single day, and spend the most time (and most of their time) with patients in recovery. If you are looking for a challenging but rewarding career that involves helping people who are sick or disabled, you may be perfect for the role of nurse. What does it take to become a nurse, exactly? Read on as we cover the registered nurse qualifications you must fulfill, as well as the Registered Nurse qualities desired by employers today.
The Must-Have Qualifications to Become a Nurse
There are a few paths you can take to become a nurse, but they all start with a college education. Nurses must be licensed to practice nursing. To become a Registered Nurse (RN), you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). And in order to sit for this board exam, you’ll need to complete an accredited nursing school program. The Connecticut League of Nursing states that, to become an RN in Connecticut, you must earn a nursing degree from a state-approved nursing school, or a diploma from a hospital nursing program. So your options are:
- An associate degree in nursing (ADN), and/or
- A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), or
- A diploma in a qualifying hospital program
All of these educational paths will cover basic nursing courses, such as anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, and even liberal arts. BSN programs cover these plus physical and social sciences, and courses that nurture valuable skills for the job, such as communication and leadership.
BSN programs typically take about four years to complete. If you have already earned your bachelor’s degree in another major, however, you could opt for an accelerated BSN program, like the one at Goodwin College. If you decide to take the path of ADN, you can always go back to school to complete an RN-to-BSN program, which will also help boost your career in a quicker turnaround.
While all three of these nursing paths can qualify you for an entry-level position as a staff nurse, more and more employers at hospitals and other healthcare facilities are requiring a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree or higher is also usually needed to land a more advanced nursing role, such as administrative or leadership roles, and those in consulting, research, and school systems.
In addition to the education and testing requirements, there are other Registered Nurse qualifications, such as:
Physical Stamina. Taking care of patients on a daily basis is quite the physical challenge. If you work on a hospital floor, particularly an emergency department, you will need to be ready to move quickly. You will be on your feet for much of the day, you will be walking a lot, and you may have to help lift patients who are unable to walk or move on their own. Being a nurse also requires some coordination. As Dr. Seuss puts it, “Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
Emotional Stability. Being a nurse can be an emotionally taxing job. You may work with families whose loved ones are fighting fatal illnesses. You may work with patients who are, themselves, emotionally and mentally unstable. Not only will you need to treat these patients effectively, you need to stay focused on the task at hand and stay steady throughout your routine.
In-Demand Registered Nurse Qualities
In order to become successful in any career, you don’t want to simply meet the bare minimum requirements. You’ll want to soar in your role as nurse! So just what are some of those great qualities of a nurse that you’ll want to possess? Here are a few of the most important ones:
Critical thinking skills. Registered Nurses need to assess patients, and determine their health status as the changes begin to become apparent. You’ll need to think and act quickly in order to help patients receive the best care possible.
Compassion. Working as a nurse is challenging. You will be treating patients of all walks of life, and some of those people will not be easy to assist. Having empathy and caring for patients are some important qualities to help you perform your role as nurse.
Communication skills. Not only will you need to effectively communicate with patients, learning of their discomforts or ailments and treating said conditions, you will also need to properly give instructions and relay important information to patients’ doctors.
Organizational skills. As a nurse, you will often work with multiple patients at a time. Having solid organizational skills will help you go about your day and stay focused on treatment.
Detail orientation. Registered Nurses must have a keen eye to notice patients’ symptoms and changing health status. Being focused on the little things can mean a difference of life and death for some patients!
Do you have what it takes to become a Registered Nurse? 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.