There comes a time for many Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) when climbing the
ladder to become a Registered Nurse (RN) just makes sense. Whether you’ve hit the
point where you’re ready to learn more and advance, you’re motivated by the
additional opportunities and bump in pay, or a little of both, taking the next step
in your career can be a smart move. That being said, actually navigating that
journey can be confusing and intimidating. To follow are some expert tips to clarify
what your options are and help set your expectations.
What is a Registered Nurse?
An RN is a nursing professional who has completed the specified level of education
via an accredited nursing program and successfully passed his or her local state
licensure exams. While the total scope of practice for an RN may vary based on
geographical location, there are certain general responsibilities that are typically
consistent across the board. These responsibilities include:
Analyzing medical situations
Performing diagnostic tests
Utilizing medical equipment
Assisting physicians and other medical personnel with various procedures
Maintaining accurate patient records
Benefits of Becoming an RN
Transitioning from CNA to RN can open a number of new and exciting career
opportunities as well as the chance to explore a number of different specialties.
Registered Nurses across the board enjoy a variety of career-enrichment benefits,
including but not limited to:
Continuing Education Assistance
Comprehensive Medical, Dental and Vision Coverage
Generous Vacation and Sick Pay
Retirement and Investment Packages
For those interested in becoming an RN, the future looks overwhelmingly positive. In
fact, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing jobs are
expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 15% between now and 2026.
Furthermore, the demand for skilled registered nurses is expected to surge to an
eye-popping 3.6 million by the year 2030. In terms of salary, the BLS puts the
current median pay rate at just under $72k per year.
RNs most often work within a hospital setting, though there are plenty of career
opportunities in other health care settings as well. For instance, facilities like
private practices, specialty clinics and skilled nursing facilities are just a few
of the many organizations that have a need for RNs. There’s also the opportunity to
become a traveling nurse as well. And, of course, once you’ve successfully achieved
your credentials as a Registered Nurse, you’ll have the option to expand into
certain specialty and niche areas, such as:
Emergency Room/Critical Care/Trauma Centers
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Psychiatric Care Nursing
Labor and Obstetrics/Midwifery
Correctional Facility Nursing
In other words, the possibilities are virtually endless.
Types of Registered Nursing Programs
In terms of obtaining a degree as a Registered Nurse, there are a number of
different options available, such as the following:
Accelerated BSN Programs – These programs are designed for individuals who already
have a Bachelor’s Degree. In addition to the BS degree, qualifications for an
accelerated program typically include a minimum GPA. With this type of fast track
program, students can achieve their BSN in as few as 12 months.
Bridged BSN Programs – For graduates who began their career in a different
health care capacity (i.e. CNA, LPN or LVN), or who didn’t enter into a nursing
career immediately, a bridged BSN program is typically the recommended course of
action. It’s called a “bridge” because it’s designed for individuals who need to
bridge the educational gap. This type of program generally uses both traditional as
well as online educational tools.
Full-Time BSN Programs – Full-time nursing programs are best for individuals
who are able to commit to a full-time schedule of coursework. There are currently
more than 670 BSN programs available across the US, including a significant number
of online options.
Part-Time BSN Programs – These programs are ideal for aspiring nurses who
don’t have the time or availability to commit to a full-time program, such as
individuals who are already employed. Part-time BSN programs offer more flexibility,
including classes held at night, on weekends and online.
Online BSN Programs – For those interested in pursuing their nursing education
100% remotely, there are a number of BSN programs that are carried out entirely
online. Increasing demand and improved technology have made the option of online
education much more feasible. Those with other commitments, such as full-time jobs
or family responsibilities, may find online learning to be a much more viable option
as opposed to traditional campus-based programs. Some online accelerated programs
even offer the ability to complete a BSN in just 12 months.
RN Program Requirements
As mentioned above, becoming an RN requires a BSN as well as successfully passing a
licensing exam carried out by the authorizing state. Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree
in nursing requires the completion of all necessary classes and coursework outlined
in the selected program. With the exception of accelerated and bridged programs,
most BSN programs take an average of four years to complete.
In order to be accepted into a BSN program, certain college preparatory coursework
and other standard prerequisites may be required. These typically include the
Cumulative G.P.A. of 2.75 or higher from High School or Associates Degree program
Prior coursework in laboratory-based science related classes such as Biology,
Anatomy, Chemistry, and Microbiology
Documented volunteer efforts
Completion of a personal essay
Cost and Payment Options
The total cost of an RN program may vary based on a number of factors, such as where
you are in your educational journey. For instance, students who already have their
Bachelor’s Degree may have the option of enrolling in an accelerated program, which
would require less time and subsequently cost less. Accelerated programs range
anywhere from $20k to $90k. Conversely, a complete, four-year BSN program can cost
anywhere from $40k to $200k.
The good news is, there are plenty of options for paying for your education. These
options may include:
Federal-Based Financial Aid
Employer-Sponsored Tuition Assistance
When it comes to advancing your career as a CNA, pursuing your RN credentials can be
a wise and lucrative decision. Hopefully this guide provided some valuable
information to help you take that next step in your nursing career journey.
Subscribe to ProMed Certifications | Medical Training Blog
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox