5 Requirements to Become a Nurse

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There are several requirements to become a nurse. You'll need a bachelor's degree in nursing. Then you'll need to take the NCLEX, which you'll have to pass to get licensed. After passing, you'll be eligible to receive your state nursing license, which enables you to work as an RN.

Felician BSN student smiling in lab

In a time when nurses are in high demand across the country, you may be wondering how to get into this growing field. You’ll need to meet several requirements to become a nurse before you can start caring for patients.

Nurses have the major responsibility of supporting patients in their health journeys. Your patients will depend on you, which is why the importance of nursing requirements should not be overlooked. Preparing yourself through a well-respected nursing program like the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Felician University in New Jersey will ensure you start your career as ready as possible.

So, what qualifications do you need to become a nurse? We’ll discuss five key requirements to become a nurse that will help you get started in the field.

1. BSN Degree

The first requirement to become a nurse is earning a nursing degree. While it’s possible to become a registered nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the preferred entry degree for professional practice.

In 2021, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) published the results of a survey that asked 645 nursing schools about employer preferences regarding student education levels. AACN found that 40.6% of employers require new hires to have a BSN, while 77.4% strongly prefer applicants with a BSN.

nursing students in class

What are the other advantages of a BSN? See eight reasons why a BSN is the best choice for most nurses.

Choosing a BSN Program

Now that you know earning a BSN is the ideal way to start your nursing career, where do you earn your degree? There are several options for types of BSN programs, and the right one for you depends on your goals and educational background.

Traditional BSN programs are four years long, and they are ideal for students without prior college credits. However, if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits, you may be eligible for an accelerated BSN program. These programs condense the nursing curriculum from a traditional program into a one- to two-year timeline. Every nursing school has a different set of admissions requirements. At Felician, our admissions counselors will help you determine whether the ABSN program is right for you.

How does an ABSN program work? Here's what to expect when you choose the accelerated nursing path.

nurse with manikin

ABSN Program at Felician

At Felician University, we believe more students should have a shot at the nursing profession, especially since our country is in desperate need of nurses. That’s why we offer both a 16-month Hybrid ABSN program with three start dates each year and an 18-month On-Ground ABSN program with one start date per year.

Both of these two programs prepare students for professional nursing, but the main difference is that the hybrid program has an online course component, while the on-ground program uses in-person lectures.

During the ABSN program, you’ll learn through three modalities, which ensures you receive a well-rounded nursing education:

  • Nursing coursework: These foundational nursing courses are where you’ll learn knowledge that you’ll later apply to real patients. In the Hybrid ABSN, these courses take place through an intuitive e-learning platform, while the On-Ground ASBN uses in-person lectures to teach these concepts.
  • Skills and simulation labs: These in-person labs take two forms, the first being skills labs, which teach you the technical nursing skills you’ll need as a nurse. Then in simulation labs, you’ll work with patient simulator manikins to practice various nursing scenarios under the supervision of your instructor.
  • Clinical rotations: Clinicals offer the chance to hone your skills in a real healthcare environment. With the guidance of your instructor, you’ll gain experience working with patients in a variety of clinical environments.

No matter where you go, nursing school is hard. So be prepared to devote a lot of time and energy to your studies. Being in nursing school is on par with holding a full-time job with required overtime. Successfully graduating with your BSN degree is a great accomplishment, and it will make your future nursing career possible.

nursing students in class

Curious if nursing school is worth it? Use these eight questions to guide your decision on whether the ABSN program is right for you.

2. Passing Score on the NCLEX

After graduating from nursing school, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to be able to practice as a registered nurse. This exam is a challenge because it tests comprehensively over what you learned in nursing school. You’ll need to decipher which answer is the “most correct” even when multiple answers may technically be correct.

The NCLEX is also unique in the way it’s administered, as it uses computer software to determine which questions to ask depending on your performance so far. Thus, the exam length differs based on the person, and once the software determines that you’ve passed, the exam will end.

Passing the NCLEX is no small feat, and it requires significant time and effort. You start building the foundation at the beginning of nursing school. Most students start spending extra time studying for the NCLEX during the last semester of nursing school. After graduation, plan to take a month or two to study full-time before test day.

3. Registered Nurse License

While every nursing graduate must pass the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse, the licensure process tends to vary from state to state. Licensing comes through each state’s board of nursing. Once you pass the NCLEX and meet any other requirements for your state, you’ll be eligible to receive your registered nursing license. With this license, you’ll be eligible for your first professional nursing job.

4. Clinical Competence

Because nurses play such a key role in keeping patients safe and helping them recover, having excellent clinical skills is essential. Nursing requires you to have a nursing degree and license, but you also need to apply your knowledge effectively in the real world.

The first steps you take toward clinical competence come through nursing school lab experiences, including skills and simulation labs. Then you’ll develop clinical skills in a real-world nursing environment through clinical rotations. Having quality lab and clinical experiences builds your level of clinical competence, which is why choosing the right nursing program is so important. Those experiences in school will shape the kind of nurse you become when you begin your professional nursing career.

Having high clinical competence will set you up to be a promising candidate for future employers, and it can propel your career into more competitive nursing specialties.

5. Nursing Soft Skills

While it’s important to have a sincere passion for helping others, there’s a lot more to being a good nurse than meets the eye. The best nurses are those who are equally competent and compassionate.

ABSN student in sim lab

They also embody certain unique qualities that make them good at what they do, including the six below. Remember that these are skills that you’ll develop during our ABSN program at Felician, so you’re not expected to have mastered these from day one.

Critical Thinking

A good nurse draws upon evidence-based research and past clinical experiences to solve patient problems.

Emotional Strength

When faced with the harsh realities of human suffering, a good nurse remains cool, calm, and collected.

Collaborative Mindset

A good nurse is able to work effectively with pharmacists, physicians, and other disciplines to coordinate safe, quality patient care.

Good Communication

Whether it involves explaining medications, treatments, or instructions to patients, family members, or fellow team members, a good nurse is able to communicate effectively and in a timely manner.

Attention to Detail

Good nurses check and recheck their work to ensure patient safety. They also observe and report, drawing attention to a problematic side effect or symptom before it causes complications.

Cultural Awareness

Good nurses don’t pass judgment when caring for patients from all walks of life. They have empathy for others and look at every situation from the patient’s point of view.

Ready to Get Started?

Now you know how to answer, what are the requirements to become a nurse? The process is straightforward, and if you choose an accelerated nursing program like ours at Felician, you start on the path toward your new career quickly.

Want to know how to become a nurse in NYC? Follow these four steps to make your nursing career a reality.

Male nurse standing outside holding open door of taxi

If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, you meet the basic requirements to get into the ABSN program. At Felician, you can choose our 16-month Hybrid ABSN program in Parsippany, NJ, or our 18-month On-Ground ABSN program in Rutherford, NJ, both of which combine nursing coursework with skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations.

Contact our admissions team to learn more about what you need to do to apply. We are here to help you make your nursing goals a reality!