Earning an Associate’s in Nursing degree is an ideal way to become a registered nurse (RN) and join the nursing field. The demand for RNs to help educate and treat patients with chronic illnesses provides very good career opportunities for these individuals. The aging population requiring good healthcare also requires the help of RNs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that RNs will see job growth of 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. Here is an overview of the Associate’s in Nursing degree and what it all entails.
What is the Associate’s in Nursing Degree?
The Associate in Nursing degree is a two-year program that prepares the student to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) exam and work as an RN. This degree is usually offered at community colleges, technical schools and some four-year colleges. The associate degree in nursing may be offered in any of these formats.
- Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Associate of Nursing (AN)
- Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN)
- Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)
The National League for Nursing indicates that there are 1,869 associate degree in nursing RN programs as of 2014. These degrees are very similar and can all lead to the RN title, according to Nursing.org. About the only difference is in the coursework the student takes beyond the basic nursing courses. Which program the nursing student will be enrolled in generally has to do with what is offered by the college.
Requirements for the Associate in Nursing Degree
Students pursuing the nursing associate degree must complete a blended curriculum of coursework, lab studies and clinical education. Prerequisites for the associate degree program usually include anatomy and physiology, English, microbiology, chemistry, communications, statistics and psychology. Nursing course topics may include pharmacology, foundations in nursing, maternal and child nursing care, nursing care of adults and behavioral health.
In addition to completing coursework, the student must also complete clinical education. This consists of supervised hands-on training working in a clinical setting. Each state has its own requirements as to how many hours are required to successfully satisfy the program’s requirements. When all academic requirements are satisfied, the student can apply to take the NCLEX-RN.
Certification and Licensure Requirements
Registered nurses are required to be licensed in all the states. In order to obtain licensure, the candidate must pass the NCLEX-RN. To be eligible to sit for the exam, the nursing student must have successfully completed the nursing program and pass a criminal background check. The NCLEX-RN exam, which costs $200 to take, consists of 75-265 questions. The student has six hours to complete the exam.
Each state has its own licensing requirements, which are determined by that state’s board of nursing. Information regarding a state’s requirements can be found at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Registered nurses may also become certified in specific areas of nursing, such as pediatrics, gerontology or ambulatory care, among others.
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Once the candidate has completed all requirements and earned the nursing license, he or she will find many career opportunities available. Although there are various paths towards becoming an RN, the associate’s degree in nursing is the quickest path and the one that will put the individual towards the nursing workforce the quickest.