Before considering a career in nursing in the US you should first decide which area of nursing that you are interested in. Different areas require different educational achievements.
You should also be aware that, if you pass the licensing examination in one state, that you are only licensed to practice in that state. If you want to move to another state within the US you will need to sit another examination so you can work in that state.
If you intend to become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) you will have to undergo twelve months training at an approved College or Vocational school before sitting the appropriate examination. An LPN typically, works in a hospital and will provide basic nursing care under supervision of an RN (Registered Nurse).
If you want to train to be an RN, there are three different levels of training.
- Associates Degree in Nursing
- Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing
- Diploma in Nursing
Once you have successfully completed the training program, it will be necessary to take the licensing exam for the state in which you wish to work.
In order to become an APN (Advanced Practice Nurse), you will need a Master’s Degree. Once the training has been completed there are several states that allow an APN to practice without a physician. The APN gains clinical experience during his or her training, which allows the APN to diagnose and prescribe medication, perform examinations, and interpret laboratory tests.
According to a report published by Reuters in March 2008, it is estimated that over 110,000 registered nurse positions are unfulfilled in hospitals and 100,000 remain vacant in nursing homes.
It seems that this is not due to lack of interest in a nursing career but to the nurse training establishments being unable to accommodate the rising need for training. Reuters also report that over 50,000 applicants were turned away due to lack of funds and facilities for training.
Qualified nurses who come to the United States to work therefore might be able to find work, providing that they can pass the necessary licensing exam for the appropriate state. However, the current economic climate in the US may make employment options in nursing more limited.