Becoming a nurse requires an associate degree, bachelor's degree or master's degree in nursing. In addition, registered nurses in the United States must adhere to their state's laws and regulations regarding nursing to continue practicing.
An associate degree in nursing typically lasts two years and focuses on a specific area of practice. Courses usually take place at community colleges and incorporate hospital-based learning. Alternatively, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing is available as a first degree program and an accelerated baccalaureate program. When studied as a first degree, the program lasts for around four years and incorporates several aspects of healthcare science. Graduates of other disciplines that want to become nurses may complete an accelerated baccalaureate program or a master's degree program.
After completing their initial degrees, nurses must adhere to their state's code of practice, which the Nursing Act and state nursing boards govern. In addition, some states require continuing education to maintain a license to practice. Nurses may hold a license to practice in more than one state, although some may need to adhere to new regulations to transfer qualifications between states. After meeting initial qualifications, nurses may take on a master's degree programs to engage in advanced practice. This includes becoming a midwife and administering drugs.