Basic Question About Nursing

  1. I'm not even in nursing school yet. And I know the holidays are here and no one has a lot of time. But can someone briefly tell me what happens after one graduates from nursing school? I thought that was it. You go out and get a job. Now I find out there are something called the NCLEX exam? I think I know that it's an exam every nursing student who has successfully completely school has to take for licensure, right?

    And then what? I am only going for an AA Degree. I realize that that will limit my options and opportunities, but does it mean that I'm going to get stuck being able to work only on general hospital wards? I realize I will have to do a couple of years in a hospital, as a green nurse getting experience, but isn't there anything else I can do? What if I want to work in surgery? What about Hospice? And what are all these Certifications I hear about? Are they only available for nurses with BSNs?

    I love this board. As I've been reading the posts here over the past two weeks, I realize how much I didn't have a clue about. My 'innocence' :chuckle is totally gone. I realize I'm in for a long, hard road. But I want to do it anyway! If all I can do is be a nurse on a hospital ward, I'll do it. But I really have my heart set on Hospice nursing.

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    About BellaTerra2002

    Joined: Dec '02; Posts: 191


  3. by   bravegirlamy
    There are really not a lot of differences between a 2yr. & 4yr. degree nurse. Most hospitals or agencies do not pay anything extra for those extra 2 yrs of college. After graduating from nursing school, you can go to work in a hospital with a letter stating you are a graduate nurse. You will then be expected to take the NCLEX within 2 months (I think that is the time limit). If you pass it, then you are an RN, if not you have to stop working as a grad nurse, & reapply to take the test. You have to wait a while to re-take it, not sure exact time limit on that. It is a good idea to work on a med surg floor for at least a yr. or 2 to get some real experience before jumping into a specialty. However, if hospice is your true passion, then I recommend that you apply as soon as you pass the NCLEX. With this nursing shortage, hospice & home health agencies are hiring without the usual minimal 2 yr. hosp. experience. GOOD LUCK with nursing school. I hope this helped clarify a few of your questions.
  4. by   ratchit
    Hi Bella. I mostly agree with the other poster but there are some differences depending on where you live.

    The NCLEX is also known as boards. When you get out of school, you are a GN- a graduate nurse. Some states allow you to work as a GN until you pass the boards, some do not. Ask your college or check your board of nursing's web site.

    Either way, when you get out of college, apply with the state BON to take the NCLEX. Most schools give you the paperwork to do this since they have a section to sign saying you graduated. The board will send you a letter saying when and where to take your exam.

    When you pass the exam, you are an RN no matter what your degree is. Your college issues your degree, the state board issues your license.

    PLEASE don't say you're "only" an ADN and that you expect to be limited by that degree. Yes, a BSN or higher is almost always needed to move into a management position. But I compared my ADN program to a very respected BSN program- we had MORE clinical hours, used the same textbooks, and had a higher boards pass rate. The BSN students had about 2 years of social sciences and phys ed.

    I'm not slamming BSNs here; I'm just saying that I have done the research and a good ADN program like mine teaches at LEAST as much about nursing as a good BSN program. You can always go back to school later. I agree that your BSN probably won't add much (if anything) to your salary. Some places give 50 cents an hour more- my hospital has a very strong and active nurses union. The BSN premium here is $250 a year. I don't find that enough to take on $20K in additional debt for a degree I don't need.

    Having an ADN will not limit your employment choices. With an ADN, I have been a med/surg nurse, a stepdown nurse, a trauma ICU nurse, and a travel nurse. I have turned down jobs in the OR and other specialty units. I don't recommend hospice as a new grad since you are own your own a lot, without nurses around you to lend support (clinical and emotional) but you can certainly move into that area when you aren't so "green." I also don't encourage you to move into a specialty right away- it's been debated to death but I think new nurses should get a year of "generalist" practice before specializing. I think it's important to see the big picture before focusing on a smaller area. It helps when you have to float or if you are wondering if your patient should be transferred somewhere else.

    Good luck with school- don't let 'em scare ya. <g>
  5. by   neneRN
    Once you pass your boards, and are officially an RN, you can essentially work any area you want, including specialty units (ER, ICU, Labor and Delivery, etc.) There is a lot of varying opinions about doing med/surg first. I really don't buy into that- I believe you should work doing what you love-and I went right into ER out of school. The only real limitations of an ADN are that in general, there aren't a lot of management/administration opportunities.
    Any RN can get certifications, they're not limited to BSNs. I have an ADN and am ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) and TNCC (trauma nurse core curriculum) certified.
    In nursing school, you have the opportunity to experience many areas of nursing to really get an idea of what you want to do. I started out with my heart set on Labor and Delivery, but found out I really didn't care for it. I found my niche in ER and can't imagine doing anything else- I love it!
    Good luck and keep the questions coming.
  6. by   meownsmile
    I also agree with the other posters.. but to add most hospitals will let you work as a RN in a orientation capacity until you take boards(most of the time within 90 days of graduation. The company that gives the NCLEX will send you a letter stating that you have applied and are eligable to take the test. That letter has to be submitted to your employer as soon as you get it. Then when you call for your date to test you will be sent a verification of test date, and that will need to be copied for your employer as well(let them make the copy, you keep the original). Then after the test and you get your decision on pass or fail, that needs to be given to the employer again to copy. If you pass you continue your orientation and all is well, they will want a copy of the original license when you recieve that too, you fail and you usually go to a tech position until such time you pass the NCLEX. Is that what you were wondering?,, Hope it helps
  7. by   BellaTerra2002
    Good Morning! And THANKS to all of you! I've got it now. It's MUCH clearer now. By the way, in the state of CA, there is a 91-day waiting period between NCLEX exams. If you don't pass, you wait 91 days for another try.

    First of all, I never thought that an ADN nurse is 'less' than a BSN nurse. I never cared about salaries differences (I'm fortunate in that, with a good pension from my current job, I won't have to be concerned with my income from nursing -- although I'm more than ready to walk/strike with my fellow nurses if the time ever comes), and I already knew that an ADN wouldn't allow me into Admin or Supervisor -- but I don't want to do that anyway.

    The 2-year community college where I want to go to nursing school is an award-winning nursing school with a great reputation. That's why I'm going there. (Not to mention that, at least for now, at the age of in-my-mid-50s, I don't want to take the time to get a BSN. I'll decide later.) This coming semester I will get an AA in Lib Arts from one community college, but next fall I will start my pre-reqs at the community college where I want to go to nursing school.

    Secondly, I have NO problems doing two years in a hospital. In fact, I can't imagine doing otherwise. It seems like the best place to get experience.

    Thirdly, I've been a Hospice Volunteer (did it for about two years in the past and want to start again this summer) so I know I like working with the terminally ill. However, I agree, I may change my mind as I go through school and my initial 2 years after graduation.

    Thank you again! Have a good day, Everyone! Time to get ready for work. It's POURING rain here in southern CA. Terrible to drive in (cuz we southern Californians don't know how to drive even in the sun! :roll ), but we haven't had rain for SO LONG. Such a blessing.