If you like caring for people and are willing to put the time into training, you can work toward certification and licensing for a career as a registered nurse through an associate's degree program. Registered nurses work in many different environments as well as specializations. Read on for info on required courses, salary and job growth projections.
Registered nurses (RNs) work directly with patients, providing care and support to both the patients and their families. They may note symptoms, give out medication and perform tests. Additionally, they educate patients and their families on medical conditions and recommend techniques to manage illness or pain at home. RNs can earn an associate's degree in nursing to become licensed.
|Required Education||Associate's degree|
|Other Requirements||Licensure through NCLEX|
|Projected Job Growth||16% between 2014 and 2024*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$67,490*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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There are three main types of associate's programs for becoming a RN. Although these degree programs vary in name, they generally last two years, have similar curriculum and offer students similar results. Graduates may take licensing exams to become registered nurses.
Associate of Science in Nursing
Students looking to become a RN may consider earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). ASN degree programs combine courses in pharmacology, anatomy and physiology with education in a real nursing practice. Some of the practical areas that may be covered in these programs include disease prevention, health promotion and bedside care techniques. Students also receive training in how to record patient data, manage patient records and track progress during the course of a patient's treatment regime.
Associate Degree in Nursing
The most common of all nursing programs is the Associate Degree in Nursing, also known as the ADN. ADN programs may be completed in two years and prepare graduates to enter careers as registered nurses with courses that focus on the fundamental aspects of nursing practice. Students receive a combination of hands-on clinical experience and classroom education. Coursework may cover areas in medical-surgical nursing, types of patient care and clinical decision-making.
Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
Students wishing to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN) must complete in-class education and training in a healthcare setting. Aspiring nurses learn to calculate doses, understand legal rights of patients and complete courses in pathophysiology. Nursing skills courses may also cover topics in women's health, child birth and client care.
Graduates of all associates programs in nursing studies must successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before applying for work as a registered nurse. This is a computer adaptive test taken over the course of a single day and those who receive a passing grade may begin work in their state of choice.
To keep up with technological, medical and legal changes, states may require RNs to complete continuing education. RNs may receive continuing education credits for completing courses in nursing administration, nutrition and nursing skills among a host of other topics.
Registered Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates 16% job growth for all RNs in the decade 2014-2024. A rising elderly population contributes to this faster than average job growth. In May 2015, RNs earned a median income of $67,490 annually, per the BLS.
A career as a registered nurse requires completing at least an associate's degree program as well as passing a certification exam. In addition to classroom and lab work, students spend many hours in hands-on training in medical facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports growth for nurses far surpasses the job market as a whole, and the job also pays well.