How to Become a Clinic Nurse

Learn how to become a clinic nurse. Find out what clinic nurses do, and explore the education and licensing requirements that can help you qualify for an entry-level position in a medical clinic. View article »

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  • 0:04 Clinic Nurses
  • 0:33 Career Information
  • 1:30 Step 1: Earn a Degree
  • 2:39 Step 2: Become Licensed
  • 3:07 Step 3: Join an Organization

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Video Transcript

Clinic Nurses

Clinic nurses are usually licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), or registered nurses (RNs). They typically work in medical clinics, where they collect patient information, perform or aid in medical tests, and help with patient education. The work of a clinic nurse may be physically demanding and includes standing for prolonged periods of time and sometimes lifting or moving patients.

Career Information

Clinic nurses may secure work after obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree for registered nurses or a certificate or diploma for licensed practical or vocational nurses. Nurses in all 50 states must be licensed.

Degree Level Certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Nursing (LPN or RN program)
Licensure and/or Certification Licensure through the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is required for both RNs and LPNs
Experience None (entry-level position)
Key Skills Compassion, good communication skills and judgment, able to operate medical equipment and work with medical databases and typical office software
Salary (May 2015) $67,490 per year (Median salary for RNs), $43,170 (Median salary for LPNs and LVNs)
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% increase (for RNs, LPNs, and LVNs)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine

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Step 1: Earn a Degree

In order to become a clinic nurse, aspiring professionals usually earn an LPN certificate, Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN), or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An LPN certificate typically takes a year to complete, while ADN and BSN programs can be finished in two years and four years respectively.

All three programs cover topics in pharmacology and biology, and include experience in a clinical setting under the supervision of experienced nurses. The associate's and bachelor's degree programs cover a broader range of topics, including anatomy and psychology. Four-year programs also provide more education and training in communication and social science.

Success Tip:

  • Get a higher-level education. While an LPN certificate or ADN is enough education for many entry-level positions, a BSN offers greater opportunity for advancement, such as leadership or administrative positions. Some nurses obtain an LPN certificate and pursue a bachelor's degree while working as a nurse.

Step 2: Become Licensed

After earning a certificate degree from a nursing program, clinic nurses must register for and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before they can pursue entry-level employment. Practical nurses take the NCLEX-PN, while registered nurses take the NCLEX-RN, but both exams cover topics in patient care and rights, health promotion, and pharmacology.

Step 3: Join an Organization

Clinic nurses seeking to advance their careers should consider joining the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS). This organization is dedicated to promoting the contributions of clinical nurse specialists and advancing the practice of nursing. NACNS offers various membership benefits, including access to industry resources, tools, trends, conventions, and other avenues for professional training and advancement.

Let's review. You'll need to complete a certificate or a degree program in licensed practical or registered nursing and obtain a state license before you can find an entry-level position as a clinic nurse. The BLS projects a faster-than-average growth in employment for licensed practical and vocational nurses and registered nurses through 2024.

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