What Are the Different RN Qualifications?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 May 2018
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RN qualifications vary by jurisdiction, but typically include educational requirements, hands-on experience, as well as passing a licensing exam. In many cases, those who wish to become a nurse will also have to make a formal application to a government agency that licenses nurses, and this application may require submitting to a background check as well as submitting documentation of one's RN qualifications. Registered nurses may be required by law or their employers to continually update their qualifications by completing continuing education courses on a regular basis. It should be noted that in some jurisdictions, including the United States, there are several educational paths that a person can take in order to become a registered nurse.

A registered nurse is a health care professional who is trained to provide skilled health care services to others. The scope of practice for registered nurses varies by jurisdiction as well as his or her training and licensure. For example, advanced practice nurses may be able to order tests and perform minor medical procedures. To become an advance practice nurse, however, one must typically earn a master's or doctoral degree and and obtain a separate license from one's nursing board.


In the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom, it is possible to become a registered nurse by earning a diploma through a nursing program sponsored by a hospital. It should be noted, however, that the United Kingdom is phasing out this option and that it is becoming less popular in the United States and in Canada. This is because of the increasing professionalization of the nursing profession. Nurses in the United States may also complete the educational component of their RN qualifications through an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in nursing. Student nurses in the United Kingdom spend at least some of their formal education receiving training in a specialized field of nursing, such as mental health or pediatric nursing.

Student nurses are expected to spend a significant amount of time working in a hospital setting under the supervision of a clinical nursing instructor. Once the student nurse completes his educational requirements, he will typically be eligible to sit for a licensing exam. After passing the exam, he must wait for the regulatory agency that supervises nurses in his area to review his RN qualifications and issue his registered nursing license. After a period of employment as a registered nurse, he may be able to further his career by completing postgraduate work in nursing and obtaining advanced practice credentials.



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