Sometimes the idea of going to school full-time to be a nurse is a dream. Nursing school is intense and time-consuming, and you still need to work. Luckily, nursing is a career that you can work your way into slowly. Each step you accomplish can get you closer to your goal, while still earning a living at your job and paying your day-to-day bills.
1. CPR Training: CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a life-saving technique involving chest compression and assisted breathing. Every medical professional needs to know CPR as a graduation requirement. Getting CPR training can be your first step to a career in nursing. You can take a class at your local community college, Red Cross office, or even at your current job.
2. First Aid Training: Many high schools and colleges offer first aid training. It is another step towards nursing and comes in handy in general life, especially if you have children. Also, if you work with the public, in a retail or food and beverage setting, you may be able to have your employer pay for the training.
3. Certified Nursing Assistant: A CNA, or certified nursing assistant, works in a hospital, long-term care facility, or even in home care, assisting nurses and attending to patient's basic needs. Depending on your state's requirements, the training program is usually just a few weeks of day, evening, or weekend classes. CNAs are required to take (and pass) both a written exam and a skills test to become certified. CNAs are also required to take continuing education classes to maintain their license.
4. AED Training: Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs for for short, are life saving devices that can be used by anyone with proper training. Many hospital, school, and nursing home employees are required to know how to operate an AED. Training may even be provided by your employer.
5. Licensed Practical Nurse: An LPN is the next step on the way to a career in nursing. Each state is slightly different, but most LPN programs are one year in length, culminating with a state exam and licensure. Luckily, much of what you learned to earn your CNA certification can be applied to your LPN degree. Most LPNs work in long term and dementia care facilities, as opposed to hospitals, but you are one step closer to getting the job of your dreams. Plus, you can work as an LPN while studying to become an RN.
6. Registered Nurse: A registered nurse, or RN, is a two year degree, usually at a community college. The schedule of both classroom time and practicum time is extensive. But, if you are already working in the medical field as a CNA or LPN, you can usually arrange a more flexible class schedule. Upon completion of your studies, you will need to pass a state exam, often referred to as state boards or simply boards, in order to obtain your nursing license. Nurses are also required to take continuing education classes each year to stay abreast of advancements in the field.
7. Bachelor's in Nursing: While earning your RN status may be your original goal, it is very easy to push yourself a little bit further and achieve a bachelor's degree in nursing. In fact, there are many 'RN to BSN' online programs that make this incredibly convenient and easy. Earning a bachelor's degree may not be a requirement for your employment, but it is always a wise decision. In fact, it may help you to move into a management position later in your career.
A career in nursing may seem like a lofty goal but, if you break it down into easily accomplished steps, you can do it.