From High School into Nursing
Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes much of her
free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in traveling nursing jobs.
Before the medical field exploded with the dawn of newer and more diverse technologies, the choices that a young nursing candidate had were fairly limited. Nursing in previous generations blanketed the entire healthcare spectrum that today has been broken down into many degrees and certifications. Fields like physical therapy, anesthesia, cardiac care, emergency room and so forth, are not only specialized but are in high demand. Something a current high school nursing candidate should really consider when thinking about their future career. With all of these niche certifications available, a prudent question to ask yourself would be: Do you receive your training and degree through a traditional four-year-college or would it behoove you to reduce the time and expense of college and get started even earlier. Numerous options abound with healthcare, from flexible schedules, part-time and temporary work to traveling nursing jobs. The best part? You can begin your journey into the medical field, before you graduate from high school.
How? Let’s take a look at the steps to get your nursing dreams started.
- High School: It’s never too early to start looking into your future, even though your fellow classmates are more worried about what they are going to wear for the Friday night football game than what they’ll be doing in ten years, this doesn’t have to be true for you. You can start working towards that nursing degree while still enrolled in high school. Get online and search an online program aptly called, “Jump Start” where you can begin earning credit towards your nursing degree as early as your junior year. Before you start the admissions process, you must sign a “Letter of Intent” and make an appointment with your guidance counselor to discuss your career plans. Once they determine that you are in fact ready to start they can grant permission for you to begin the nursing courses. Another critical piece of the nursing admissions equation will be your SAT scores, you must earn a combined total of 1100 (Math and Critical Reading) in order to qualify as well as a 2.7 GPA. An additional exam is the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills); this will test a prospective nursing school candidate on their knowledge of a variety of subjects. Among these subjects are; mathematics, science, English and language usage. If this seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, you are already a huge step ahead of the game. You have completed half the battle and you’re still wearing braces!
- LPN vs. RN: From this point on, your life will be filled with many acronyms and abbreviations, so you better start getting used to it. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) perform basic care and some administrative duties (usually under the supervision of a Registered Nurse). LPN programs generally run 12 months and you can earn your certification through a few different options here; online, community college or technical colleges. Prospective nursing students can also earn an Associate Degree in nursing (ADN) or a 4-year Bachelor of Science Degree (BSN) through an accredited program. Courses here would include; chemistry, physiology, anatomy and psychology as well as hands on training through a supervised instructor.
- Licensing: ALL students who have completed a hospital nursing program, ADN or BSN degree must pass their state’s licensing requirements. Those who want to earn their Registered Nursing certifications must pass the NCLEX-RN. Once you’ve completed these basic requirements don’t forget that the career path of nursing offers many specialized certifications and degrees. Another option is to look into the American Nurses Association as well as the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Started in 1991, they have had over 250,000 nurses receive their credentials. This organization’s creed is defined as “a means of measuring competency and the identification of competent nurses that will promote the public welfare for quality in health care”. Another echelon of the American Nursing Associations is the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) this would include adult critical care, neonatal and pediatric critical care. If critical care is not your field of interest, some additional options include specialization certifications in diabetes education, gastroenterology, HIV/AIDS, infectious disease, OB/GYN, pain management and respiratory therapy. Again, you are not limited by fields or bricks and mortar, even. Let’s say, you are seeking a career in nursing but are also interested in exploring the world while you are still young and unmarried? Perhaps a career as a traveling nurse would appeal? Imagine doing what you love all while experiencing a different culture and seeing sights of antiquity!
At the end of the day, looking into the nursing field is one that offers many unique opportunities. By getting a head start, you can not only earn your certification two years earlier, but also earn a critical foothold into the healthcare industry. With all the many certifications available, you can easily find that perfect job that gives you not only a varied selection of interesting work but also a respectable purpose in life. A win-win on all accounts.