How To Become A Nurse In Florida

One employment field that will always be a good choice is the medical field. Becoming a nurse is one of the fastest ways to get into the medical field, and is very diverse. You can become a nurse in as little as 12 to 18 months, or go into a two-year or four-year program to reach a higher level of competency and even specialize in a certain area of the medical field. The options are endless; you just need to decide what is right for you. No matter what state you are in nursing programs range from a little over a year to four years. Education and licensing to become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) takes approximately a year and a half, and can get you into the medical field quickly. You can also save on schooling as most community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools offer nursing programs. If you want to attain a higher level of skills, you can become an ASN (associate of science in nursing) and complete you education and licensure in about two years. If you want to gain an even higher level of skills and specialize in a certain specialty in nursing, in approximately four years, you can complete your education and licensing to become a BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing) and attain your degree in licensure in approximately four years. A BSN can also lead to work in nursing management and other non-patient care related medical work. No matter which degree you decide on, make sure that the school you are attending is accredited by the Florida Department of Health to be a verified institution of nursing instruction.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

If you have limited funds and want to fast track your career into nursing, you may want to start off becoming an LPN. Depending on your ability to attend full-time or part-time, you can get your certificate and licensure in as little as a year. You can also attend these programs at most community colleges, vocational schools and technical schools, and save a great deal of money on tuition. Before you enroll in any school, you want to contact the Florida Board of Health and make sure that the institution is on their list of accredited LPN schools. If you do not attend a school that is accredited, you may not be able to take the exam for your nursing license, and will have to start all over at an accredited school. Even though you will most likely be attending a community college, keep in mind these programs usually have a minimum GPA and attendance that you have to adhere to in order to successfully complete the program. Once you complete your training successfully, you can take the NCLEX-PN exam. This is the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nursing. You will be tested on four segments of your education, which are Safe Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psychological Integrity and Physiological Integrity. In order to successfully attain your license, you must pass each portion of the exam with a minimum score.

Even though LPN’s have a narrowest scope of practice, or care they are allowed to provide, completing additional training to perform Intravenous Therapy and Medication Administration can help you to gain employment in almost any type of nursing facility there is. Without these extra certifications, an LPN can still provide basic patient care, provide input into the planning, implementation and evaluation of patient care, but it must all be under the discretion of an RN (ASN or BSN). An LPN is to provide care that does not require them to make decisions in the patient’s care, but provide care that is pre-determined.

RN (Registered Nurse)

If your job and finances allow you to attend school full-time for two to four years, and you want to be able to provide more care than what is allowed as an LPN, you can choose a two or four-year program to become an ASN or BSN. You can attain you education and licensure to become an ASN in approximately two years, and a BSN in four years. Again, you want to make sure that any institution of higher learning you attend provides an accredited program that is acceptable per the Florida Department of Health. Some community colleges offer the ASN program, but in most cases, you will have to attend a four-year institution to obtain either degree. If you want a smaller more personal approach to nursing school, you may want to inquire with hospitals in your area to see if they have a school of nursing. Usually these programs have few students, but you receive your education directly in the hospital environment, and usually are hired on to the staff once you successfully complete your education and licensing requirements.

Just as with an LPN, you will have to take a state exam to receive your licensure, but the test for an ASN or BSN is called the NCLEX-RN. The test consists of the same four segments as the test for LPNs, but obviously asks questions of a much higher education level than that of an LPN.

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

If you are not sure whether you want to attain your ASN or BSN, it is always better to start with the least amount of education and consider working your way up from there. If you become an ASN and find employment somewhere that offers tuition assistance, you may be able to return for your BSN and not have to worry as much about the financial aspect. An ASN gives you a larger scope of practice than an LPN, but still not as much as a BSN. If you want to specialize in a certain area of nursing, getting your BSN is also the best idea. Nursing management and other related jobs in most cases require a BSN, or at times, they will hire someone who is in the process of gaining their BSN. If you want to be a “jack of all trades” being an ASN allows you to gain familiarity in all areas of nursing, like pediatrics or geriatrics, and can help you decide if you want to specialize in one of them, if at all.

All nursing degrees require continuing education or CE hours. These are short sessions, usually no more than an hour or two a month, that provide you updates in certain areas of the nursing field. They help you keep up to date on the latest methods, practices and medicines that you may or may not be familiar with. Most places of employment will offer these to staff as they know that they are required, or you can take these courses in your free time online as well. Your nursing license needs to be renewed every two years, and this CE courses help you to make sure that you can pass the test to renew your license.

Nursing Schools in Florida

While the LPN program is offered at a majority of technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges in Florida, the following schools are based on those attending for an ASN or BSN.

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  • GCU's courses are taught by practicing nurses and experts who share knowledge and experience in areas of clinical patient care, healthcare management and professional nursing practice and leadership.
  • Gain a comprehensive view of patient care principles to strengthen your ability to care for patients and take on hospital responsibilities with your BSN.
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Nursing School Locations

University of Florida
College of Nursing
PO Box 100197
Gainesville, FL 32610-0197
Phone: (352) 273-6400

University of South Florida
College of Nursing
12901 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33612-4766
Phone: (813)974-2191

University of Miami
School of Nursing
PO Box 248153
Coral Gables, FL 33124-3850
Phone: (305) 284-3666

University of Central Florida
College of Nursing
4000 Central Florida Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32816-2210
Phone: (407)823-2744

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