How To Become A Nurse In Iowa

Nursing is a great career, and one that has proved to be one of the most stable. There are many areas to work in the medical field but nursing is one that provides you a wide range of expertise to choose from as well as a large field to work in. What level of expertise you enter your nursing career with depends on how much time you want to spend in school based on your finances and career goals. You can become an LPN or Licensed Practical Nurse that provides basic patient care, to an RN or Registered Nurse with a bachelor’s degree that can work in specialized areas of nursing, nursing management or even become a director of nursing for a variety of facilities. If your finances are limited you can work your way up by attaining your LPN license then find employment in a facility that provides tuition assistance after a certain length of employment. Larger facilities offer tuition assistance for all nursing staff that wants to further their career. LPN programs are available at most community colleges, vocational and technical schools at a reasonable cost. If you are considering becoming an RN from the start, you may want to find a four-year college, even if you are only planning to get your associate’s degree in case you wish to return to gain your bachelor’s degree in the future. No matter what school you attend, you want to be sure that it is accredited by the Iowa Board of Nursing. The Iowa Board of Nursing is responsible for making sure that all nursing education programs in the State of Iowa provide students with a curriculum that will prepare them to take state licensing examinations and pass them successfully.

Each state, including Iowa, requires all nurses to be licensed. Once you graduate from your respective nursing training, whether it is an LPN or an RN with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you must pass the Iowa Board of Nursing proctored exams. The exam for LPNs is called the NCLEX-PN or National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses and the exam for RNs is called the NCLEX-RN for Registered Nurses. You must pass these exams in order to work as a nurse in the State of Iowa. The following will provide you with information on how to become and LPN or RN, as well as what to expect once you enter the field of work.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

If you have never worked in the medical field, going to school to become an LPN is probably a good choice. The length of training is usually between 12 and 18 months and is very affordable. Most community colleges, technical and vocational schools offer LPN training with flexible hours that also allow you to work while you are going to school. Becoming an LPN allows you to enter the medical field at a level that you can provide care, but also determine if nursing is the career for you. Not everyone is cut out to work in the nursing field, and if you decide it is not for you, you can use your LPN training to work in other areas of medicine that do not require direct patient care. It also helps you to decide if you wish to further your career in the nursing field. When applying for school, you want to make sure that the program is accredited by the Iowa Board of Nursing. This will ensure that the curriculum follows that required by the State and you will be ready to take your licensing exam once you complete your training. When you apply for school, do not be surprised if there is a waiting list to take your actual nursing courses. Nursing is a popular field and becoming and LPN is usually the route people choose who have never worked in the medical field. Although you may be put on a waiting list, you want to make sure that you complete all of your other courses needed while you are waiting. Keep in mind that completion of classes and an above average GPA can move you up on the waiting list. Once you complete your training successfully, you can then take the NCLEX-PN exam for your state license. Once you pass the exam successfully, you are legally allowed to work as an LPN in the State of Iowa.

While working as an LPN you have a very small scope of practice, or care you are legally allowed to provide, it still gives you an idea of what working in nursing involves. In most cases, you will always be working directly with RNs as supervisors and co-workers, so you can see what their job involves as well. As an LPN, you can provide basic patient care that you were taught in school. Depending on the facility you work in, you will be assigned tasks you may or may not be familiar with, but those you are not familiar with you will do under the supervision of an RN. You can also attend additional training to be able to pass medication as well as start intravenous (IV) lines and provide limited IV therapy to patients. You will only provide care that follows a direct flow from beginning to end and does not require any decision making or nursing judgment.

RN (Registered Nurse)

If you currently work in the medical field and are familiar with what nursing involves, you can start your education by enrolling in school to become and RN. Whether you choose to attain your associate’s or bachelor’s degree is all dependent on your career goals and in most cases, budget. Schooling to become an RN can be intensive, and some people find it difficult to attend nursing school and work at the same time. Most RN’s enter school and attain their associate’s degree, then after entering the field and working for a length of time, return to school to attain their bachelor’s degree. Larger facilities also offer their health care staff tuition reimbursement if they choose to return to school to attain a higher degree. This not only can help you financially when you return to school, but also in most cases adds to your job security. When choosing a school, you want to choose one that offers both the associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree programs, which more than likely will be a four-year college or university. Even if you are just attending for your associate’s degree, if you decide to return to school in the future for your bachelor’s degree it is much easier to just continue at the same school. No matter where you attend, make sure that it is accredited by the Iowa Board of Nursing to have a sufficient curriculum.

The scope of practice of an RN is much wider than that of an LPN. Being an RN not only requires you to perform patient care, but also requires you to assess patients, make observations, judgments and suggestions on their care as well as supervisor LPNs and other lower level staff. It also can allow you to work in a larger variety of medical facilities and departments. If you have a bachelors in nursing this can allow you to work in a specialty such as Neurology or Psychiatry as well as in upper level nursing management.

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

As mentioned above there are many factors to take into consideration when deciding between attaining your associate’s or bachelor’s degree. If you are unsure if you want to work in a specialty or work in management, getting your associates can allow you the opportunity to work in the nursing field in the capacity of an RN, and then decide if you want to move to a higher level. With an associate’s degree, you are capable of working in any area of nursing at an associate’s degree level. If you start working in a facility that offers tuition assistance, it can provide you financial assistance if you decide to further your education. If you determine there is a particular specialty you want to work in, or want to work in upper management as an RN, gaining your bachelor’s degree will help you do both.

Every level of nursing requires you to attain CE or Continuing Education credits. A unique part of working in any medical field is that you are continually updated on procedures, medication and other aspects of your particular job so you are always up to date. These are usually short seminars offered once a month that give you a certain number of credits. You must reach a certain number of credits each year to allow you to renew your nursing license every two years. If you work in a larger facility, they usually offer the opportunity for CE credits on site. If you are unable to attend the ones on site or they are not offered, you can attain them online through CE programs.

Nursing Schools in Iowa

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

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Nursing School Locations

University of Iowa
College of Nursing
101 Nursing Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1121
Phone Number: (319) 335-7018

Drake University
College of Pharmacy and Health Science
2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311-4505

Clarke University
Department of Nursing
1550 Clarke Drive
Dubuque, IA 52001
Phone Number: (800) 383-2345

Allen College
Nursing division
1825 Logan Avenue
Waterloo, IA 50703
Phone Number: (319) 226-2000

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