Throughout history, nurses have played a crucial role in healthcare. From their duties during wartime to their frontline work during worldwide pandemics, it is safe to say that they are vital for society to function. But, most people have only seen a small portion of what they do on a daily basis — such as caring for patients, ensuring their comfort, and communicating with physicians. What, exactly, does a career as an RN entail? And, how do you become one in Florida?
What is an RN?
An RN (registered nurse) is a healthcare professional who takes care of people through different stages of their lives. These include preventive care in healthy individuals, research and advocacy when developing policies in healthcare facilities, tending to injured, sick, and disabled patients, and improving the quality of life in those with a terminal ailment. While specific duties may vary depending on their employment setting, the most common ones include:
Medication administration per physician orders
Inserting and irrigating NG tubes and Foley catheters
Ventilation and tracheostomy care
One-on-one care in a home environment
Registered nurses are also known for being patient and sympathetic. These characteristics are more likely to make you find fulfillment in this career path, as well as make your patients feel more comfortable around you.
How to Become a Registered Nurse in Florida
To become a registered nurse, you are required to complete either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After graduation, RNs are required to take the NCLEX-RN examination administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). In addition, registered nurses have to meet licensing requirements as outlined by their state’s board of nursing. Specifically in Florida, these requirements include graduating from any of the following:
A Florida-approved or accredited nursing education program
An Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education-accredited nursing program that has been issued an NCLEX code by NCSBN
A nursing education program that is approved by the jurisdiction in which it is based and that has been issued an NCLEX code by the NCSBN
A military nursing education program that has been issued an NCLEX code by NCSBN
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or higher program that has been issued an NCLEX code by NCSBN
A non-NCSBN jurisdiction — such as Puerto Rico or an international nursing education program — that the Board determines to be equivalent to an approved program
Canadian registered nurses who took the Canadian Nurses Association Testing Service (CNATS) Examination after August 8, 1995, must take the NCLEX examination unless licensed in another state or territory
When you submit your license application to the Florida Board of Nursing, you have to include the applicable fees and schedule an appointment for Livescan electronic fingerprinting. An application specialist will review your documents and may request additional information. The review process can take between three and five days, and you have to renew your license every two years.
Once all of these prerequisites have been completed, registered nurses can apply for jobs in a wide array of settings. These include hospitals, emergency rooms, physicians’ offices, clinics, senior residential facilities, hospice care, and home healthcare. In addition to providing primary health care services, registered nurses also offer patient education and health advice.
Some registered nurses opt to continue their studies to receive a master’s or doctoral degree. These programs require courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and human development. Obtaining this additional education allows RNs to provide primary care to patients. Further, you can also follow a curriculum that offers courses in financial management in healthcare settings and leadership management to obtain a post-baccalaureate degree in nursing administration. This positions a registered nurse to assume a leadership role or become part of senior staff.
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