How To Become A Nurse In Colorado

Nursing is an exciting and rewarding career. It is also one that there will always be a need for. Jobs in the medical field are usually some of the most stable that you can have. Your first step to becoming a nurse is planning and completing your education. With the variety of nursing levels there are, the amount of time you spend in school should be dependent on how high of a level of nursing you want to practice, and in the current economy, what fits into your budget. Becoming an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months depending on if you attend full or part time. LPN training programs are offered at most community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools. The benefit to these is that they usually offer convenient class schedules and are usually very affordable. You want to be sure that you are attending an accredited program that is approved by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Board of Nursing. You also have the option of attaining a higher nursing degree by becoming an RN with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. You will need to enroll in a four-year college or university to attain these degrees in most cases, unless you can find a community college that offers an associate degree program to become an RN. If you want to get your foot in the door in a nursing career with the least amount of education, you will probably want to become and LPN. If you have previously worked in the medical field and know that you want to become an RN, you just need to make the choice between the two degrees. Some larger hospitals also have nursing schools, but in most cases, they have very long waiting lists and with the very small classes they have, getting into them is not easy. Again, it makes no difference where you go to school; you want to make sure that the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Board of Nursing has accredited them to provide the education needed to become a licensed nurse at any level. Accreditation by the State of Colorado means that their curriculum provides you with the correct education to be able to pass the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN, which are the exams you are required to pass to become licensed.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

Starting your nursing career as an LPN is a good choice for those who have never worked in the medical field before. It allows you to experience what it is like to work as a nurse, but only complete the minimum education. This allows you to work in the field at a lower level, and be able to make the decision if it is a good career choice for you. In this economy, the last thing that makes sense is having two or four years of student loans to pay back for a career you were not cut out for. Most local community colleges, vocational and technical schools offer LPN training and usually are very affordable. They also have flexible schedules that allow you to work while you are attending school. While you may be put on a waiting list to take your actual nursing courses, you can take all your pre-requisites while you are waiting to take these courses. It is very important that the Colorado Board of Nursing accredit the program so that you will be receiving the education needed to pass the NCLEX-PN. The NCLEX-PN or National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses is the exam given by the state in order to allow you to become licensed to practice nursing in your state. The test consists of four sections and your basic knowledge of nursing is tested within these four sections. You must pass all sections at a specific percentage in order to pass the exam as a whole.

While an LPN has a very limited scope of practice, or care that you are allowed to provide per state regulations, it is the easiest way to get into the nursing field quickly. It also allows you to experience what it is like to be a nurse to make sure that it is the career for you. Not everyone is capable of working in the nursing field, some find difficulty with providing certain patient care, the hours required and the requirement to work holidays, weekends and 2nd or 3rd shifts. As an LPN, you are not legally allowed to provide medications or IV (intravenous) therapy to patients unless you receive additional training. Depending on where you are working, they may offer to pay for these extra courses as well as provide tuition assistance if you enjoy the field and want to further your education.

RN (Registered Nurse)

If you are already working in some capacity in the nursing field and are well versed in what the requirements of being a nurse involves, then you may choose to attend school to become an RN from the beginning. When becoming and RN you have a choice of a two-year (associate’s) or four-year (bachelor’s) degree. While both are considered an RN, the higher degree will allow you to work in a specialty nursing field or in nursing management. The least amount of education required to be an RN is at least two years. To become an RN with an associate’s degree, you may still be able to find a community college that offers and Associate’s Degree in nursing, but more than likely, you will need to enroll in a four-year college or university. As with LPN training, you want to make sure that whatever school you attend is accredited by the State of Colorado. No matter which level you choose, you will be required to take the NCLEX-RN or National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses. Like the exam for LPNs, the exam has four parts that must all be passed in order to complete the entire exam. Once you pass the exam, you will receive your state license to practice as an RN in Colorado. An associate’s degree will allow you to work in a more general field of nursing, while attaining your bachelor’s degree will allow you to work towards a specialized field of medicine such as Oncology or Pediatrics and it will give you the opportunity to work in nursing management as well.

An RN has a much larger scope of practice than an LPN. While an LPN must complete tasks that have a set beginning to end, and RN performs tasks that require not only the higher level of education, but also the ability to make decisions quickly. As an RN, you may be asked for your opinion on a patient or their treatment and suggestions for what you think would be a good plan of care. You will often have the task of supervising LPNs as well, making sure that they follow their scope of practice and any facility protocols as well.

Becoming an RN – Associate’s versus Bachelor’s degrees

Deciding between an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree is dependent on your career goals and your budget. If you want to eventually obtain your bachelor’s degree, many larger facilities offer tuition assistance for those employees that perform their current job above average and want to further their education. You may also want to obtain your bachelor’s degree if you want to work in a specialized area of medicine in the nursing capacity such as Geriatrics or Emergency. A bachelor’s degree will also allow you to work in more areas than just patient care including nursing management and care planning. Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities employ RN’s with bachelor’s degrees as Directors of Nursing as well.

One constant among all nursing degrees is your requirement to continually hone your skills and keep current on information. This is provided through Continuing Education (CE) courses. Every state requires that you take a certain number of hours of these courses per year in order to renew your nursing license every two years. Depending on the size of the facility you are employed in, they may offer the courses in-house to provide you with your credits, or you have the option of taking them online in your off hours to maintain the hours you need.

Nursing Schools in Colorado

While the LPN program is offered at a majority of technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges in Colorado, the following schools are based on those attending for an RN degree of any level.

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Nursing School Locations

Beth-El College of Nursing
P O Box 7150
Colorado Springs, CO 80933
Phone: 719-255-8227

Colorado State University
2200 Bonaforte Blvd.
Pueblo, Colorado 81001
Phone: 719-549-2871

Denver School of Nursing
1401 19th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: 303-292-0015

Mesa State College
1100 North Avenue
Grand Junction, Colorado 81501
Phone: 970-248-1020

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