The National Council for Licensure Examination offers two nursing exams: the NCLEX-RN for registered nurses and the NCLEX-PN for practical nurses. The exam covers the following four basic areas of nursing: psychosocial integrity, physiological integrity, health promotion and maintenance, and providing an effective and safe health care environment. Individuals who wish to become licensed nurses either through the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN must fulfil several requirements.
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High School Diploma or GED Equivalent
Nurses are required to earn a high school diploma or GED equivalent in preparation for nursing school. Students should take science classes including biology, chemistry, physics and anatomy. Some nursing programs require students to submit scores from the COMPASS standardised exam.
Practical Nursing Program
Students who will take the NCLEX-PN exam are required to attend a practical nursing program. Programs last approximately 12 months, and are offered at vocational schools, technical schools and community colleges. Students will take courses in anatomy, chemistry, biology, physics, parent-child nursing, paediatrics, geriatrics, obstetrics, physiology and nutrition. Students also receive supervised clinical experience in patient care, first aid and administering medication.
Registered Nursing Program
Nursing candidates who will take the NCLEX-RN exam are required to attend a registered nursing program. Candidates can earn a diploma, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. Diplomas are offered through hospital programs. There are only approximately 100 such programs remaining in the United States; the programs typically take between two and three years to complete. Associate degrees in nursing are offered through technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges. The programs take two years to complete and generally include clinical experience under the supervision of a licensed registered nurse. Bachelor degree programs in nursing are offered at accredited colleges and universities. The programs typically take four years to complete; students are given a comprehensive liberal arts and nursing education, including classes on leadership and management. Bachelor degree programs in nursing also include an extensive amount of supervised clinical experience.
Individuals who have earned all of their educational nursing qualifications are required to apply for licensing from their state board of nursing concurrent to registering to sit for the NCLEX. Once their state board of nursing has reviewed their application and supporting documentation, students will be sent an ATT (Authority To Test) for the NCLEX exam, which lists available testing locations, dates and times. On testing day, students are required to present their ATT, as well as a government issued photo identification.
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