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RN Nursing Programs in Texas - TX

Registered Nurses in Texas are licensed via the nationally-standardized NCLEX-RN test. However, there are two routes to taking this test. The quickest option is via a two-year Associate Degree, Nursing program, or ADN. ADNs are widely available and, although they take two years, typically involve general admission to a college or university and subsequent application to a nursing department, meaning the total time to completion can be closer to three years. Around ten courses, spread out over two semesters, in topics like microbiology, math, English, psychology and chemistry are generally necessary to apply for a nursing program. It is advisable to do well in these courses—acceptance into a nursing program is competitive and it is important to give your best effort when taking prerequisites to ensure a successful application. Volunteer work in a health care setting can also be an asset, showing you are committed to becoming a nurse.

An ADN is comprised mostly of nursing courses, but also some study of the liberal arts and hard sciences. The knowledge acquired through ADN courses prepares students for the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). To take the examination, students must first apply to the Texas Board of Nursing with proof of successful completion of a state approved RN program or equivalent, and submit to a criminal background check. They then pay a non-refundable application fee of $139 and sit the exam at an additional cost of $200 to Pearson Vue, who administers the exam. It takes about a month to get results back, and, if successful, one receives their license shortly thereafter, at which point they are eligible to find a job as a Registered Nurse in Texas.

After an ADN-equipped nurse is licensed as an RN, they typically work as an entry-level RN in everything from hospitals, which employ around sixty percent of RNs nationwide, to clinics, long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, and even health education programs. Regardless of the setting, Registered Nurses must be able to think critically when devising patient care plans and managing LPNs and CNAs. Indeed, it is a diverse and rewarding occupation from the start and there is much to be learned while working in a hands-on health care setting. But there is one more path to an RN that gives an RN the opportunity for greater specialization of knowledge: a Bachelor of Science, Nursing (BSN), which is the route taken by around half the Registered Nurses in Texas.

A BSN can be achieved in four years straight out of high school, but it can also be pursued after receiving licensure as an LPN, or even an RN with an ADN. If starting from scratch, the first two years are pretty much the same as an AND, with around ten prerequisite courses in general studies and general admission required before applying directly to nursing school. However, in the final two years, courses go beyond the skills and theories learned during the first two years to focus on such specialized topics as pathophysiology, child care, caring for older adults, populations and communities, leadership, advanced theory, nursing research and more. During a BSN, students also gain work experience as part of a built-in practicum in a supervised environment. This ensures that they gain hands-on experience as well as technical knowledge while exposing them to different environments so students get a better idea of where they would like to specialize.

BSNs in Texas go beyond essential nursing knowledge, and even that offered in an ADN, to a level of critical thinking that prepares students for a leadership role in a health care setting and beyond. With a BSN, a prospective nurse gains experience, makes professional connections, and gains a wide variety of in-depth knowledge in areas of their own choosing, which can help to open doors towards a more dynamic career than what is available to ADN equipped Registered Nurses—something worth thinking about when deciding whether to pursue an ADN or a BSN.