RN Certification, Classes and Requirements

Registered nurses are licensed nurses who have a combination of classroom education and clinical training. Beyond licensure, you could become a specialty nurse and earn an industry certification through a nursing credentialing organization. Get information on nursing programs, courses and certification. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Registered nurse (RN) education programs typically last for 2 to 4 years; although, programs designed for students who are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) may be completed in a shorter amount of time. Certifications for RNs are awarded to those who've gained experience in a nursing specialty and have passed a certification exam. Before applying for certification, you must first be licensed as a registered nurse.

Degree Options Associate of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Licensing All states require licensure for RNs
Certification Various specialty certifications available in areas like pediatrics and gerontology; certification is generally voluntary although some employers may require it

What Classes Will I Take in an RN Program?

RN courses may include subjects such as:

  • Nursing theory
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Pharmacology

Elective coursework in an RN program may offer you the opportunity to study nutrition and holistic medicine or select from skill-building courses in psychology, sociology and interpersonal communications. Your curriculum will also include a clinical practicum, in which you will practice your nursing skills on actual patients in hospitals and clinics. You will also be trained to administer medications, educate patients, maintain medical records and utilize medical equipment.

How Do I Obtain RN Licensure and Certification?

Licensing for registered nurses (RNs) is mandated by state nursing boards. Students who have graduated from accredited RN programs are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which then leads to state licensure. RNs who gain professional experience working in a nursing specialty, such as pediatrics, may be eligible for nursing certification through organizations such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

What Certifications Can I Earn?

The ANCC offers certification in 10 RN specialties, including ambulatory care, cardiac/vascular, gerontology, informatics, medical-surgical, case management, pediatrics and psychiatric/mental health (nursecredentialing.org). Because the ANCC recommends six months of preparation for the certification exam, you might consider utilizing the ANCCs exam resources and study materials.

Additionally, you'll need two years of RN experience and a combination of education and experience in your nursing specialty, including 30 hours of continuing education and 2,000 hours of work experience. Certification through the ANCC must be renewed every five years through verified professional experience and continuing education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Northern Illinois University

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    Popular programs at Northern Illinois University:

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  • Towson University

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    • Maryland: Towson
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