As you prepare to graduate from high school, or even as late as your time as an undergraduate or in the weeks, months, or years after you’ve earned your undergraduate degree, you may find yourself wondering about your next steps. One exciting option is to consider becoming a registered nurse (RN). As an RN, you become an integral part of the healthcare system by assisting individuals in their recovery from illnesses and injuries.
Nursing, as a career, is in high demand across the US, and particularly in Pennsylvania. The Hospital and Healthcare Association of Pennsylvania notes that both in the state and across the country, there is a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals to meet the increasing demand for care.
Pennsylvania is facing one of the most significant workforce shortages in the nation due to factors such as the aging and retiring healthcare workforce and a more significant number of patients requiring acute care. This highlights the urgent need for skilled nurses to fill the gaps and provide quality healthcare services to meet the growing healthcare needs of the population.
Yet, becoming an RN requires education beyond a high school diploma.
Below, you’ll gain a clear understanding of how to pursue a career as an RN in Pennsylvania, which will equip you with the knowledge needed to embark on a successful journey in the nursing profession.
Research Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania
Exploring and gathering information about appropriate nursing programs available in your state is essential to begin your journey toward becoming an RN.
When researching nursing programs in Pennsylvania, consider the following points:
- Explore both associate degree in nursing (ADN) and bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs.
- Compare the admission requirements of each program, including prerequisites, GPA expectations, and any required standardized tests.
- Evaluate the curriculum of each program to ensure it aligns with your educational and career goals.
- Check the accreditation status of the nursing programs to ensure they meet the necessary quality standards.
- Consider factors such as program length, class sizes, clinical experiences, and opportunities for specialization or advanced study.
- Research the reputation and success rates of graduates from each program, including their employment rates and passing rates on licensure exams.
- Take note of the location and accessibility of the nursing programs, considering factors like commuting, housing, and proximity to healthcare facilities for clinical rotations.
- Seek out information on available resources and support services, such as tutoring, counseling, and career guidance.
By thoroughly researching and comparing nursing programs, you can make an informed decision and choose the program that best fits your aspirations and educational needs.
Meet the Nursing Admission Requirements
To begin your journey toward becoming a registered nurse, it’s essential to understand the admission requirements of the nursing programs you’re interested in. These requirements usually include having a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Additionally, you may need to complete prerequisite courses like biology and chemistry. Some programs might also consider your minimum GPA and standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT.
It’s crucial to carefully review the specific admission criteria for each program to ensure you meet the necessary qualifications. By fulfilling these requirements, you’ll be one step closer to pursuing your dream of becoming a registered nurse in Pennsylvania.
Consider Direct Entry BSN Programs
Holy Family University notes that one way to become a qualified nurse is to join an accelerated BSN program available at some universities. These programs cater to students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field.
Referred to as “accelerated BSN programs,” they provide a faster route for career changers or those seeking a second degree to become registered nurses. These programs compress the traditional nursing curriculum into an intensive and condensed timeframe, allowing students to build upon their existing knowledge while acquiring the necessary nursing skills.
Accelerated BSN programs in Pennsylvania offer a streamlined pathway for motivated individuals to transition into the nursing profession efficiently and effectively.
Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships
Financial aid is a great way to help you pay for your nursing degree. You can look into federal grants, loans, and scholarships available for aspiring nurses. Seek out scholarships specifically designed for nursing students in Pennsylvania, offered by professional nursing organizations, hospitals, and foundations.
These scholarships can provide valuable financial assistance to cover tuition costs, textbooks, and other educational expenses. By taking advantage of financial aid and scholarships, you can make your nursing education more affordable and accessible. It will also ensure that financial constraints do not hinder your path to becoming a registered nurse.
Obtain State Licensure
To work as a registered nurse (RN) in Pennsylvania, you must obtain a state license.
As stated by Nurse.org, after finishing your ADN or BSN program, you become eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your RN license. If it’s your first time taking the NCLEX, you can schedule the exam within 30 days of becoming eligible. The test typically takes a little over four hours to complete.
It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the licensure requirements and the application process, including submitting an application, paying a fee, and providing the necessary documentation. By understanding the steps involved, you can prepare yourself for success in this final phase of becoming a qualified nurse in Pennsylvania.
Consider Further Education in Nursing
Although obtaining an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) qualifies you to become a registered nurse, it’s worth contemplating the advantages of pursuing even higher education in the field.
Furthering your education can bring many benefits. According to Fortune obtaining a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) expands your career prospects, offering opportunities in leadership, academia, research, and specialized roles.
With an advanced degree, nurses can pursue weekday jobs instead of working alternating weekends and enduring 12-hour shifts. Besides improving work-life balance, completing a higher education program can also enhance earning potential.
As a high school graduate embarking on becoming a registered nurse in Pennsylvania, you now possess a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this rewarding journey. Understanding the necessary steps will help you lay the groundwork for a successful nursing career.
As you embark on this fulfilling profession, embrace a commitment to lifelong learning and dedication to providing compassionate care to patients. With determination and passion, you can make a meaningful impact in the healthcare system, improving the lives of individuals and contributing to the well-being of communities in the state.