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RN Nursing Programs in Virginai - VA

How to Become an RN in Virginia

Registered Nurses in Virginia are licensed via the nationally-standardized NCLEX-RN test, which can be taken after as little as two years of study. Hospitals and other private facilities provide what is perhaps the fastest route to licensure, through accelerated programs dedicated to preparing for the NCLEX. In a more traditional educational setting, the quickest route 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 statistics, chemistry, math, English and psychology 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—knowledge of both nursing procedures and good communication and interpersonal skills are vital in a dynamic health care environment. After completion of an ADN with satisfactory grades, students are ready for the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). To take the examination, students must first apply to the Virginia Board of Nursing with proof of successful completion of a state approved RN program or equivalent, and submit to a criminal background check—it is important to note that an applicant may be denied if the Board of Nursing deems their criminal record inappropriate to the occupation. They then pay a non-refundable application fee of $130 and sit the exam at an additional cost of $200 to exam administrator Pearson Vue . 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 Virginia.

After an ADN-equipped nurse is licensed as an RN, they usually find entry-level employment. Still, 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 Virginia.

A BSN can be achieved in as little as 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 ADN, with around ten prerequisite courses in general studies and general admission required before applying directly to nursing school. The final two years are what really sets a BSN apart, as nursing students focus on such specialized topics as pathophysiology, child care, caring for older adults, populations and communities, leadership, advanced theory and practice, nursing research and more. BSN students also gain work experience as part of a built-in practicum in a supervised environment, ensuring that they gain hands-on experience as well as technical knowledge. The practicum also gives students access to various setting where they may find work, giving them a leg up in deciding where to specialize and pursue a job once they graduate.

BSNs in Virginia 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. This allows RNs equipped with a BSN to pursue a more diverse array of career options than those with an ADN, which is worth considering when deciding what educational path to choose.

RN Salaries in Virginia

Registered Nurses are in high demand in Virginia and with an aging population the demand is only expected to grow higher over the next ten years. RNs are the largest group of health care professionals in the state and those working in metropolitan areas make, on average, over $60,000 per year (according to BLS.gov)plus benefits. Registered Nurses do work hard for these wages, however, with irregular hours, including split shifts, nights, weekends and holidays being typical. After all, patient’s health care needs don’t fit a nine-to-five schedule. RNs also hold great responsibility when it comes to making decisions about the health of their patients, which can be stressful. From management of Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nurse Assistants, to complicated decision making procedures and critical patient care, their actions can affect dozens of people’s lives on a daily basis. But this kind of responsibility and critical thinking can be very rewarding at the end of the day, and no one day will ever be the same for an RN in Virginia. Whether working in a hospital, as is the case for 60 percent of RNs, or in home care or a physician’s office, working as a Registered Nurse in Virginia is certainly an attractive option.