Qualifications for Becoming a Nurse

Nurses must meet certain educational requirements.
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When a person chooses nursing for a career, she must meet certain mandated qualifications before she can legally begin her career. She must obtain educational qualifications and work experience, get licensed and pass legal scrutiny before any medical facilities will hire her. She must also reflect inwardly to make sure she possesses the caring and empathetic nature of a person dedicated to helping others.

Educational Qualifications

    All nurses must possess a high school diploma or equivalent before they can begin a nursing program, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Education Portal website. There are several types of nursing careers available, including certified nursing aide, or CNA; licensed practical nurse, or LPN; and registered nurse, or RN. All nurses must complete some type of post-secondary education to become a nurse. The certified nursing aide needs a qualified certification program, which includes courses on patient hygiene, patient communication, anatomy, infection guidelines, patient rights and knowledge of diseases. The licensed practical nurse and registered nurse must meet more rigorous educational requirements, which include all of the above courses and additional courses in pharmacology, microbiology, nutrition and psychology.

Clinical Experience Qualifications

    According to the bureau, all nurses must spend some time in the field performing supervised clinical experience before they graduate. The clinical experience can be in a hospital, nursing home or other medical facility. Here the potential nurse candidate actually interacts with real patients and applies the skills she learned in the classroom. This helps the nurse to transition from the learning environment to the real hands-on environment while still getting guidance and supervision from a medical professional.


    All nurses must take an exam to get a license or certification, according to the bureau. CNAs must take and pass a competency exam. RNs and LPNs must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. Some states require nurses to pass a criminal background check and drug test before beginning work. Most states insist that nurses must meet current guidelines for immunizations.

Other Important Qualities

    According to the bureau, anyone contemplating going into the nursing field should assess for himself whether he has the qualities of compassion, patience, emotional stability and stamina, as well as communication skills, critical thinking skills and attention to detail. Nurses frequently work long hours and may not get breaks often. Nurses need to communicate with all kinds of people, including the patients, doctors, families and coworkers. Nurses may run into dilemmas when a patient’s symptoms do not fit any one category, and so they must put together the pieces of the puzzle to discover the patient’s ailment. A nurse must be capable of showing compassion for his patients and he must be patient at all times with his suffering patients.

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