Nursing can be a career that is both fulfilling and easily transportable; two things that are not easily achieved by military spouses in their career pursuits. If you are interested in a nursing career, here’s an introduction on how to become one as a military spouse.
Military Spouse How-To on Becoming a Nurse
Nursing Programs for Military Spouses
Finding a job that meshes well with your military life is a challenge that military spouses face daily. Frequent moving and a lack of a local network can present hurdles to you as you try to achieve your dream job or career. Nursing is one of the careers that by nature is in high demand all over the country and as a result, is easily transferable.
RELATED: A nursing degree is one of the hottest degrees you can earn right now. Learn why here.
How to Become a Nurse as a Military Spouse
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2.7 million registered nurses (RNs) are employed in the United States, and approximately 60 percent work in hospitals.
RNs may also find themselves in clinics, physician’s’ offices, home health care settings, critical and long-term care facilities, governmental organizations, the military, schools, and rehabilitation agencies. The demand for registered nurses is expected to continue growing swiftly.
You have two options when it comes to starting on the path to becoming a nurse….
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) vs. Registered Nurse (RN)
The difference between a vocational or practical nurse and a registered nurse is significant. Note: some states refer to practical nurses as ‘vocational’. These are essentially the same thing: entry level nurses with practical education & training.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) generally have a year of nursing education. Registered Nurses (RNs) have at least a 2-year degree or 3-year diploma, although many have a bachelor’s degree.
Registered nurses are more likely to be employed at a hospital whereas LPNs are more likely to work at long-term care facilities. Although both fields are continually growing, the registered nursing field is growing faster.
Becoming an LPN requires less training than what is required to become an RN. A screening process as well as background check is required to become a nurse in either field. Additionally, to become either an LPN or RN one must take the NCLEX exam. There are versions for both LPN’s and RN’s.
How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Step 1: Complete high school
Step 2: Complete a year of full-time nursing education
**Important note: You must attend a program that is board approved in order to be licensed. Accreditation is not as important as being board approved.
Step 3: After graduating, you must take the NCLEX-PN (A national exam that you don’t have to take in the state that you wish to be licensed in.)
Step 4: Once the candidate receives his/her license, they will find it relatively easy to be licensed in other states. (For military spouses, this is especially important considering how often military families move.)
For more details on the process of becoming an LPN, click here.
Before getting into the details of how to become a Registered Nurse (RN), read this quick post on why an RN degree is one of the hottest degrees right now.
How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)
Step 1: Complete high school.
Step 2: Complete either an ADN or BSN program. (The ADN is an associate’s degree and the BSN is a bachelor’s degree. The BSN has more academic learning and coursework involved as it is a longer program. If the option of getting a higher degree after this to advance your nursing career is a thought, getting a BSN will get you closer to that goal. Nurses who already have an LPN usually have an option to do an LPN to RN bridge program.)
Step 3: Take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Once applicants pass the exam they become licensees. Similar to LPN licenses, RN licenses are highly transferable. This is incredibly important for military spouses and their families.
Connect With Top Nursing Schools
Learn about and connect with some of the top nursing programs in the U.S. below.
Duke University offers a few pathways to BSN programs through its nationally recognized nursing school. The most popular option is the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing, which helps students complete the program in four consecutive semesters, or within 16 months.
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is home to one of the top three nursing schools in the nation and provides some of the top BSN programs. It is also one of the only universities in the country that allows medical professional students to gain dual degrees, such as a dual degree in Nursing and Healthcare.
The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) is heralded as one of the top nursing schools in America by U.S. News and World Report. It is the home to some of the top BSN programs in the country and is nationally rated at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for its academic excellence.
The traditional top BSN programs that University of Michigan Ann Arbor offers are nationally rated for both their academic standards as well as for their ability to help students find work even before they have left school. Students who choose to come to the University of Michigan over other nursing schools have access to internship and fellowship opportunities through the University of Michigan Health System, which is known for being one of the largest health science center systems in the country.
The University of Pittsburgh has traditional BSN programs, as well as the second degree BSN program, an accelerated program geared toward students who already hold a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree.
You can also use MyCAA, a scholarship for military spouses that can be used to help pay for nursing programs. You can visit our MyCAA page to find out if you’re eligible to receive up to $4,000 in funds for this program.