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How do I Become a Primary Care Nurse?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Primary care nurses are men and women who provide immediate treatment to patients with many different symptoms and ailments. They usually assist primary care doctors by evaluating and interviewing patients, checking vital signs, setting up testing equipment, aiding in diagnoses, and administering medication. Nurses must be compassionate, alert, and well-prepared at all times in their work. There are many steps an individual must take to become a primary care nurse; a person must complete at least a bachelor's degree program in nursing, work under supervision for one to two years, and pass accredited licensing exams in his or her country or state.

A prospective college student who wants to become a primary care nurse can enroll in a four-year bachelor's degree nursing program. In undergraduate school, a hopeful nurse usually takes a variety of courses related to his or her eventual career, such as mathematics, biology, anatomy, physiology, and health. Many bachelor's degree programs offer clinical nursing courses, where students have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the job by practicing on dummies and volunteers. Many individuals choose to work as nurse aides at hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities to gain additional experience while studying to become a primary care nurse.

Upon completion of bachelor's programs, many graduates choose to pursue advanced degrees in nursing. Master's or doctoral degrees improve individuals' credentials, knowledge, and chances of finding steady employment after graduation. A nursing student in an advanced degree program typically splits his or her time between classroom and practical settings, learning about different types of diagnoses, diseases, injuries, and abnormal medical conditions. A hopeful nurse in graduate school can decide to focus on a specialty, such as pediatrics, elder care, or women's health. He or she often interns at a hospital while taking courses in order to gain firsthand experience and assist other primary care nurses.

A graduate of a master's or doctoral degree nursing program in the United States is awarded the title of Registered Nurse (RN), and can usually find paid work in an urgent care facility or general hospital. New RNs are usually required to practice under supervision for one to two years and pass a national licensing exam before working independently. In the United States, an individual who wants to become a primary care nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Other countries typically offer written and practical exams that are similar to the NCLEX-RN to test nurses' understanding of laws, ethics, and medical procedures. Once all educational, training, and licensing requirements have been met, and individual can officially become a primary care nurse and begin treating patients.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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