We recently received the following question: “How many years do I have to study to become an RN?”
This is a great question, and a lot of potential nursing students ask this. Essentially, there are a couple of degree programs you can complete in order to be a licensed Registered Nurse. We’ll get to that in a minute.
But first, it may help you to understand that to become a licensed nurse, you ultimately have to meet the requirements set forth by your state’s own laws. These are set forth by the board of nursing, and they usually give the requirements for education and experience required to get licensed, as well as administering the NCLEX examination, which all nurses must pass after graduation.
So you always want to make sure that the school or program you attend will meet those requirements so that you can be fully licensed once you graduate the program.
Nursing Degrees: ADN vs BSN
One is the Associates Degree in Nursing. This program is tailored for those who prefer to get a degree and RN license as quickly as possible, and get into the workforce. The program is typically structured to take approximately 2 years to complete (sometimes a little less than 2 years) Hence, that is why it is called an “associates degree”.
Additionally, you could get a BSN degree (Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing). This program is tailored to those who may seek long-term careers in nursing, pursue management positions, or who may wish to continue their education to a higher level (such as a Master’s Degree or even become a Doctor). Like most bachelor’s degrees, this degree usually takes approximately 4 years to complete.
Both degree programs have their pros and cons, and it is ultimately up to the individual to determine what their life goals will be with respect to educational and career goals. For some people, an ADN is a perfect fit. For others, a BSN would be the best choice.
In short, if you just want to get a decent paying job, and you have ZERO desire to go back to graduate school, and you don’t care so much about being in top management positions, then an ADN will work fine. While a BSN may get you a higher starting salary, my personal experience with my friends has been that ADN’s pretty much start out at roughly the same pay. Especially while the nursing shortage remains.
Also, you can still get management positions with an ADN, but you may not be as likely to get very advanced management positions.
In contrast, if you are ambitious and want to climb the ladder in your healthcare career, then a BSN (or even more advanced degree) would be a very wise investment. We have an article discussing the difference on ADN vs. BSN degree programs you may also be interested in skimming.
So it is entirely possible to be working as a fully licensed nurse, earning a very competitive rn salary within 2 years (or maybe a bit less if you really buckle down). Also, keep in mind that nothing is set in stone. If your desires change over time, you could always go back to school to get a BSN (in fact, some universities offer a “mostly online” program for this).
So again, I’d really just think about your goals for the future, and then determine which program best fits your overall desires. Then, once you decide on a program, you can contact a local university or nursing school program to learn about admissions and so forth. We also have a general list of nursing schools that may assist you with this (although it isn’t 100% comprehensive, it does list some of the more established and well-known universities and programs).
Thinking about going to Nursing School?
Are you contemplating going to nursing school, or are you actually in nursing school right now? Nursing school can be challenging, especially if you do not know what to expect. Here is a great guide by S. L. Page BSN, RN called “How to Pass Nursing School“. This book gives you detailed information about how to pass nursing school from beginning to end. S.L. Page, the creator of this website, complied all the information students what to know about nursing school into one easy to read guide. She gives in depth information on how to succeed in nursing school.
S.L. Page graduated from nursing school with honors and passed the NCLEX-RN on her first try. In this ebook, she reveals the strategies she used to help her succeed.
Here is what the book looks like:
Best wishes to you!