4 steps for starting your RN career

Starting a career as a registered nurse is a rewarding way to help people in need. It can be a difficult path, but the hard work is well worth the satisfaction  you feel when you walk through the doors of your new facility on your first day. Keep reading for next steps on how to jumpstart your journey toward a successful career in the healthcare industry:

1. Pass the NCLEX
Before finding a job within a healthcare organization, nursing students must pass the NCLEX. According the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, nursing students must first receive authorization to take the examination. This can be done before graduating, though the test cannot be taken until post-graduation.

The examination is meant to determine if nursing students are prepared for entry-level work in the nursing field. The test covers safety procedures, health promotion and maintenance, knowledge of basic care and risk reduction as well as psychological preparedness. The test typically takes five hours to complete. It's recommended that nursing students take a practice test before attempting the real thing.

2. Do your research
Once you've passed the NCLEX, it's time to start thinking about the kind of organization you want to work for. Are you interested in a position within a national hospital network, or would you rather start your career at a smaller clinic? Likewise, you should think about what kind of programs and areas of care you find most appealing. It can help to organize your thoughts in terms of specialty categories such as clinical, community, emergency, surgical and management. Try to imagine the type of care setting you want to work within. Some graduates may want to go into family practice while others find the surgical field more exciting. Once you land on an ideal specialty, research organizations in your region that could be a good fit.

BSN courses focus on biology, anatomy and psychology, among other concentrations. You'll find there are many nursing specialties to consider.

3. Stand out from the crowd
Nursing is a competitive field, and you may find that there are a limited number of open positions in the specialty of your choice. A stellar resume will help you stand out above the crowd. Consider participating in extracurricular activities during school to show potential employers that you are a dedicated individual. Outside of school, consider volunteer opportunities with nursing homes or community centers which will show that you like to get involved and have a true passion for caregiving.

4. Apply to jobs
Once you've passed the NCLEX and have received your licensure from the state board of nurses, it's time to start applying to jobs. Nurse.org explained that your resume should highlight your educational experiences, licenses and relevant work experience. From there, it's time to prepare for interviews.

Becoming an RN may seem like a long process now, but it's well worth the investment. The more you learn and experience in school, the more opportunities you'll have waiting for you once you've graduated from school.

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