One of the following degrees is required to become a registered nurse (RN): diploma in nursing, associate degree in nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), notes the American Nurses Association. In addition, graduates must also take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN through their state's board of nursing.
A diploma of nursing is sometimes offered through schools of nursing based in hospitals. These schools, along with community colleges, may also offer a nursing program leading to an associate degree. The associate degree is a 2-year degree that teaches students the technical skills needed for a career in nursing.
The BSN is a 4-year degree offered at universities and 4-year colleges. The first 2 years focuses on classroom work, with courses in human growth and development, anatomy, microbiology, physiology and organic chemistry. The next 2 years is typically focused on the clinical aspects of nursing, such as chronic diseases, community health, mental health and pediatrics. Students may also take courses in areas such as health policy and healthcare economics.
Once graduates become RNs, they have the opportunity to further their knowledge through several graduate degree programs, such as a Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice. These degrees are optional and not needed to become an RN.