The requirements to become a nurse in the United States depend on whether the position being sought is a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN). LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses, or NCLEX-PN, and a well-chosen and accredited LPN program can prepare an individual to pass the exam in about a year, as noted by RN and nursing instructor Marijke Vroomen Durning on the Learn How to Become website. RNs must pass the more demanding NCLEX-RN, which requires a 2-year associate degree in nursing (ADN), a 4-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or a 3-year nursing school diploma.
A diploma obtained through a hospital-based 3-year nursing program was a typical path taken to obtaining a registered nurse license, but many hospital-based schools and community colleges now offer ADN degrees that prepare aspiring RNs to take the NCLEX-RN in 2 years. The 4-year BSN degrees offered by colleges and universities enable individuals to enter the more technically specialized fields, and also provide a pathway to advancement in a nursing career, as reported by the American Nurses Association Nursing World website.
The Licensed Practical Nurse website recommends becoming an LPN as a relatively straightforward 1-year entryway into the healthcare field. A high school diploma, usually with at least a 2.0 grade point average, is often all that is required to enter a 1-year LPN program. Once some experience has been gained in the nursing field, LPN-to-RN bridge programs are available to facilitate the next step in a career advancement path.