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How to Become a Nurse in Pennsylvania, PA

Becoming a nurse in Pennsylvania is a smart move—the demand for nurses is only expected to grow in coming years, and there is currently a shortage of qualified nurses in the state. Indeed, there is no better time than now to become a Pennsylvania nurse. So, how do you do it?

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First, a high school graduate must identify which nursing education program best suits their aspirations. One can become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) through a one year diploma program, and enter the workforce as a certified professional nurse. However, most choose to become a Registered Nurse (RN) through either a two year Associate Degree (ADN) or four year Bachelor’s Degree (BSN) in nursing. These two Pennsylvania nursing education programs require a handful of prerequisites—around a semester’s worth of full time study—before applying, and the specific required courses can vary from college to college.

Regardless of what program one enters, the first year focuses upon hands-on care knowledge and skills, and then RN candidates move to larger-scale management, assessment, and treatment strategies in their second year. Those who continue on with a BSN benefit from advanced training, which can give them further research skills, theoretical knowledge, and targeted training in specific areas of interest like community health and treatment of terminal illnesses.

The last step to becoming a nurse in Pennsylvania is to pass the NCLEX licensure examination. There are both LPN and RN versions, and a good college will have you well-prepared to pass the exam—pass rates average over 85 percent nationally, but they can vary from college to college, so it is worth looking into a program’s success rate before applying. The NCLEX is the last step—once passed, a nurse is ready to receive licensure and enter the work force.

More Pennsylvania Nursing Information

Our Pennsylvania nursing state page can answer any questions you may have about becoming a nurse in Pennsylvania, from CNA licensure to job opportunities, wages and beyond.