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The University of St. Thomas (UST) is Houston’s Catholic University, committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the dialogue between faith and reason. Our blog is dedicated to helping you explore your future career possibilities and how to make the most of your college experience.

How to Become an RN

How to Become an RN in Texas: 5 Steps Required to Pursue This Provider Role

It didn’t take you long to realize that nursing is your professional calling. You’ve always believed that quality healthcare is essential for overall wellbeing. And you’re undeniably drawn toward helping people in your Texas community. Pursuing a career as a registered nurse (RN) just makes sense.

While you’ve done some initial research to make sure you know a few important facts about nursing in the Lone Star State[CS1] , you’re just now entering the planning phase. You’re eager to learn how to become an RN in Texas. What steps do you need to take? And what sort of education do you need?

The process is relatively straightforward for students who have yet to obtain a nursing degree. Consider this your quick-start guide.

Your 5-step guide on how to become an RN in Texas

Each aspiring nurse will have a slightly different journey. That said, everyone needs to complete these phases to become an RN in Texas.

1. Compare nursing degrees

As a future registered nurse, you have the option of obtaining either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both options teach students about nursing theory and practice. ADN and BSN programs also devote plenty of time to clinical rotations, the hands-on experiences students complete in healthcare settings to develop practical skills.

So, what’s the difference? ADN programs are typically quicker. Most students obtain their degree in two years, though some are able to finish sooner. BSN programs usually require four years of study, because they provide a greater depth of knowledge in certain subjects. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) explains that BSN programs more thoroughly cover topics like the social sciences, nursing management, research and public health.

To determine which degree makes sense for you, consider your career goals. If you’re most interested in securing employment as soon as possible, an ADN may be a good choice. But it’s important to note that a BSN is required by some employers, and it could also help you command a higher salary. A bachelor’s degree also paves the way for further education like a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) that can qualify you for more advanced roles.

2. Apply to and enroll in a program

Once you determine which degree path is right for you, you’ll want to identify which programs align with your goals. Expect to do some research to determine how schools compare regarding important factors like graduate success, faculty experience and clinical training. You should also make sure that your final selection is a Texas Approved RN Education Program.

When you’ve narrowed your options, you’ll need to make sure you meet all the admission requirements. Students need to meet benchmarks for both the college and the nursing program, all of which can vary from one school to the next. Some colleges allow freshman direct entry into the nursing program while others consider those students pre-nursing until they complete a number of requirements. In either case, you’ll likely need to maintain a minimum GPA and complete a number of prerequisite courses for any program that prepares you to become an RN.

Students also need to pass an entrance exam to gain admission to nursing school. While there are numerous options, the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) and the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) exam are two of the most common. That said, you should contact your program to find out which test they require.

3. Obtain your degree and complete all eligibility requirements

Once you begin nursing school, expect to complete both core classes [CS2] and courses specific to nursing. While every curriculum is a bit different, you’ll undoubtedly cover subjects like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology and mental health. Some classes include labs, allowing students to deepen their understanding of different concepts.

Throughout your education, you’ll progressively focus more on developing practical skills through simulation experiences and other hands-on work. Eventually, your training will culminate with clinical rotations. These experiences involve working in real healthcare settings under the supervision of a nurse. While students start out by mostly shadowing, they progressively become more responsible for direct patient care.

Because nursing clinicals are so important for developing applicable skills, you need to accumulate plenty of experience. Programs can vary a bit in terms of how many supervised training hours they require, but the Texas Board of Nursing (BON) recommends that students complete three clinical training hours for every hour of classroom instruction they receive.

As you near the end of your program, you’ll want to submit an online licensure application to the BON. Additionally, you must register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) through Pearson VUE. You should also begin the criminal background check process if your program hasn’t already instructed you to do so. Lastly, every nursing student needs to pass the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Exam, a 50-item test that takes about two hours to complete.

Once you graduate from nursing school, your dean or program director will notify the BON. At this point, you’ll receive an authorization to test (ATT) that qualifies you to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

4. Pass the licensure exam

While the best way to prepare for your licensure exam is to attend a quality nursing program, it’s a good idea to spend plenty of time reviewing material prior to test day. You may even want to complete a practice exam to get acquainted with the format and type of content you should expect. The NCLEX-RN itself is an extensive test that spans four main categories: Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psychosocial Integrity and Physiological Integrity.

The BON will receive your results within five days of you taking the NCLEX-RN. Once you’ve passed the exam and received your certificate, be sure to verify your license online.

5. Secure your first job as an RN

Once you’ve officially become an RN, you’re free to begin your career practicing in Texas. While starting your job search can be intimidating, there are numerous ways to find available positions. Start by reaching out to your network, which includes fellow classmates, instructors and even staff you met during clinical rotations. It’s also a good idea to peruse job openings at area hospitals and other healthcare facilities. You might even consider joining a professional nursing organization to further expand your network and learn about new opportunities.

Start working toward your nursing career

Understanding how to become an RN in Texas is just the beginning. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a licensed provider. But it’s well worth the effort for those who persevere.

If you’re up for the challenge, you might want to begin thinking about building the right educational foundation. Obtaining a BSN is a great option since it provides the most comprehensive training at the RN level. Programs like the one at the University of St. Thomas (UST) go one step further by focusing on holistic practice that addresses all patient needs.

Find out how you can begin building your nursing career today by visiting the UST Bachelor of Science in Nursing program page


 [CS1]Add link to “Texas Nursing Know-How: 5 Things Lone Star State RNs Should Be Aware Of” once published.

 [CS2]Add link to “Exploring Core Classes in College and Why They’re Important” once published.

About the Author — Staff

AvatarThe University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic, liberal arts university in Houston, Texas. We have 35+ undergraduate majors including STEM, Nursing, Business, Education and Pre-Med. Located in a vibrant urban environment just minutes from downtown and the famed Texas Medical Center, we welcome students of all races and religions to our diverse and collaborative campus.

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