Anyone working in nursing can tell you that the industry is both a rewarding and challenging one. Every day is different, but every day involves helping others in need. Nursing is also a career that is in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses (RNs) is expected to grow 15 percent over the next several years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Not only this, but registered nursing is ranked #18 in the 100 best jobs in the U.S. today, due to its bright job outlook, high job satisfaction, and advancement opportunity.
Whether you’re just starting out in your college career, or already have a degree in another field and want a fresh start, now is the time to get into nursing. The question is, where do you begin? What are necessary the steps to become a nurse today? As a recognized nursing school in Connecticut, Goodwin College breaks down the steps to becoming a nurse in CT below.
Pick Your Path & Program
The step in your journey towards becoming a nurse is to get the right education. There are three basic, educational paths 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, but all will qualify you to sit for the state’s mandatory licensing exam. Here is a quick outline of the three different routes you can take to become a nurse:
- Diploma in Nursing (24 months) – A few 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. This was once a popular route, but it is becoming less available across the state of Connecticut. For just a few more courses, you can earn yourself an associate degree in Nursing (ADN). With nursing being such a hot career choice, there is more competition, and more employers are looking for college degrees in applicants.
- Associate Degree in Nursing (typically 24 months) – An associate degree in Nursing is the standard requirement for Connecticut RNs today. It’s also the most popular (and cost-effective!) choice for those interested in becoming a nurse in the Nutmeg State. Associate nursing programs combine both classroom and clinical experiences, giving aspiring nurses the foundation needed for a practical nursing career.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (typically 4 years) – As more healthcare employees look for well-educated hires, nurses who have a Bachelor’s in Nursing, or BSN degree, will have the cutting edge. In fact, almost 80% of employers in Connecticut prefer to hire BSN graduates. Many RNs choose to jump into the field quickly, gain experience, then later enroll in an RN-to-BSN program to ramp up their nursing skillset or advance in their careers.
- Take the Test
One of the most important steps to becoming a nurse in Connecticut, as is the case with any state, is earning your license. To earn the RN credentials, you must graduate from an accredited and approved nursing program, and then 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: basic knowledge in nursing, the ability to analyze and apply knowledge, and an application of rules and processes to identify the best practice of care.
Those who successfully pass the NCLEX-RN will be granted the official title of a licensed Registered Nurse. This title enables you to start working with real patients in an active healthcare setting. It will also enable you to apply to a BSN level program, should you wish to continue your education.
- Submit Your Application
The next step to becoming a nurse in Connecticut is simple: Submit a completed application and a check or money order for the $180.00 fee.
- Submit an Official Transcript
Once you have earned your degree, passed the NCLEX-RN, and submitted your application, you should submit your official transcript of nursing education. Should you graduate from a nursing program that is located outside of the United States, then you must also complete the CGFNS International Certification program.
The Goodwin Difference
Goodwin College is an accredited nursing school in Greater Hartford, Connecticut. Our career-focused nursing programs – from the associate (ADN) to the master’s (MSN) level – are respected 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 – which can be completed in as little as 16-months, online – and eventually our online Master’s in Nursing program should you wish to grow in your career even more.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another, non-nursing field, rest assured there is still time to change careers! The steps to becoming a nurse will just be a little bit different for you. Aspiring nurses who already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated major can enter the accelerated BSN program at Goodwin College. This will provide you with the foundations of nursing, clinical skills, and experience with patients, and prepare you to become a Registered Nurse in just 16 months full-time.
Goodwin College has a passion for helping students achieve their dreams. Our Career Service offers free career guidance for students and alum – forever! Our team of professional networks can help you with the resume, interview practice, and even access to an online job board. Our job is not finished until you are working in the nursing career of your dreams.
Are you ready to jumpstart your career in nursing? Call 800-889-3282 today to learn more about our various nursing programs – both online and on-campus – or visit here to learn why Goodwin College is a leader in healthcare education in Connecticut.