How Long Does It Take to Become an RN?

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Thinking of becoming a nurse? You may wonder, “How long does it take to become an RN?” High school graduates can attend a four-year nursing program. If you do have a non-nursing college education, you may be able to earn a nursing degree in as few as 16 months.

Nurse on phone reviewing paperwork

Are you thinking of transitioning to a career in health care? If so, you may wonder, “How long does it take to become an RN?” and “How long is nursing school?” It all depends on your starting point. In addition to earning a nursing degree, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN to become a licensed, practice-ready nurse.

The good news is that you may not need to attend a four-year nursing school. If you have non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may meet the admissions requirements for Averett University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. This would allow you to graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months after meeting the prerequisites.

How Long Is Nursing School? It Depends on the Type of Nurse

So, how long does it take to become a registered nurse? When planning your nursing education, it’s important to consider the type of nurse you wish to become. The levels of nursing include:

  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA): Typically requires a high school diploma or GED, as well as completion of a state-approved CNA program and certification exam
  • Licensed practical nurse (LPN): Usually requires the completion of a vocational training program (typically 12 months in length) and a passing score on the NCLEX-PN
  • Registered nurse (RN): Requires a nursing degree and a passing score on the NCLEX-RN
  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN): Nurse practitioners (NPs) and other APRNs require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, a passing score on the NCLEX-RN, clinical experience, a graduate degree, and an advanced certification
Averett ABSN student working with sim manikin

If you intend to become an RN, one option is to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), typically a two-year program. This would qualify you to sit for the NCLEX. However, healthcare employers generally prefer to hire baccalaureate-prepared nurses over ADN-prepared nurses because better patient outcomes are seen with BSN prepared nurses.

This is why many people choose to earn their BSN, especially if they plan on later becoming an APRN. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree often takes four years of college, like other baccalaureate programs. However, in some cases, it may be possible to graduate with a BSN in as few as 16 months.

How Long Does It Take to Become an RN With an ABSN Program?

If you are eager to earn a nursing degree in as few as 16 months and already have a bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits, you might not need to enroll in a four-year nursing school. Instead, you may qualify to pursue your BSN at Averett’s ABSN program. You’ll receive the same quality of nursing education as you would at a four-year nursing school, but on an accelerated timeline and without as many general education courses.

Although you can start and finish the program in 16 months, earning your nursing degree may take longer. You might need to complete one or more prerequisites before beginning nursing school. These prerequisite courses help ensure you’re prepared to tackle nursing coursework.

nurses in simulation lab working with tools

Exactly what is an accelerated nursing program? Learn more about it here.

Become an RN in Four Steps

You'll be assigned to a dedicated admissions counselor when you reach out to the ABSN program team at Averett. They will walk you through the steps required to apply to become a nursing student at the Averett University School of Nursing, which offers a values-based education. After earning your nursing degree, you’ll focus on obtaining your nursing license. Let’s look at these steps and “How long does it take to become an RN?”

1. Completing Nursing School Prerequisites

Your first step is to complete any lingering nursing school prerequisite courses. While you do not need any healthcare experience to qualify for enrollment, you may need to complete prerequisites in developmental psychology and microbiology.

The time it will take you to finish the prerequisites depends on your prior education. If you’ve completed a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you won’t need to take as many prerequisites as a student transferring college credits. Your admissions counselor will help you create a plan to meet the requirements.

Averett ABSN student sitting at desk studying

2. Submit Your Nursing School Application

Once you’ve completed the prerequisite courses with grades that meet the minimum requirements, your admissions counselor will explain the application process. Your counselor will identify all the necessary documentation needed and help you ensure that your application package is complete before submitting it. Your admissions counselor’s goal is to help you increase your chances of acceptance.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so you won’t have to wait too long for a response.

3. Earn Your Nursing Degree

The School of Nursing offers three start dates per year in January, May and August. This means you won’t have to wait long before starting nursing school. Even better, you can complete the coursework online for better flexibility. You’ll attend in-person nursing skills labs and nursing simulation labs, where you will learn foundational nursing skills in a safe, risk-free setting. You’ll also complete in-person clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities.

In clinicals, you’ll apply what you’ve learned through your coursework and simulation labs by delivering direct patient care. But not to worry! You won’t be tossed into the deep end of the pool. You’ll be guided and supervised by your preceptor throughout the rotation.

two nursing students looking at a digital tablet

Nursing school can be challenging. Try these top 10 study tips for nursing students.

4. Pass the NCLEX and Obtain State Licensure

After earning your nursing degree, the final hurdle in your journey to becoming a nurse is to pass the NCLEX. This licensure exam evaluates your ability to assess patient situations and develop appropriate, evidence-based responses. It’s best to begin preparing for the NCLEX shortly after you start nursing school, as the exam is quite rigorous.

You can attempt the NCLEX again if you don’t pass it on your first try, but this will delay when you can start working as an RN. You'll be ready to start applying to nursing jobs as soon as you pass it and obtain state licensure.

Averett ABSN student standing outside with backpack

Shorten Your Path to Become an RN With Averett’s ABSN

How long does it take to become an RN? When you choose the ABSN program at Averett, you could become an RN much sooner than you might think! Learn how our ABSN program can help you earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months. Contact one of our dedicated admissions counselors today!