How to Become a Nurse: Resources to Help You Get Started

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Nurses work alongside other medical professionals to provide patients with quality health care. Read on to explore a variety of nursing careers and how to join the field today.

[Featured Image]:  A female nurse, wearing a blue uniform, and head covering, is standing outside a building with white walls.

Nurses provide patient care, support physicians, and help treat and prevent medical ailments. Due to an aging population, nurses are in constant demand and well-compensated for their work and hard-earned skill set. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for instance, projects that between 2021 and 2031 the number of registered nurses (RNs) will grow by 6 percent with an average of 195,400 new job openings each year [1]. During the same period, the BLS also projects that nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners will grow by a whopping 40 percent with an average of 30,200 new jobs opening up each year [2]. 

These figures demonstrate the positive job outlook for the nursing profession for the foreseeable future. But, the path you take to join this high-demand health care profession will depend largely on your own goals. 

In this article, you will find a wide range of resources to help you explore both health care and nursing professions, learn about what you need to do to become a practicing nurse, and learn how to prepare for the job search. 

Familiarize yourself with the health care field

Health care is an expanding field. In fact, according to the BLS, health care occupations are expected to grow by 13 percent between 2021 and 2031, adding a total of 2 million new jobs [3]. If you’re considering a career as a nurse, then you should take some time first to acquaint yourself with health care as a whole. 

Explore nursing careers

Nursing is not simply one profession. In fact, there are many different nursing careers – from those that require only a couple of years of training to those that require many more. Before you jump into a nursing program, you should first consider what type of nurse you might want to actually become. 

Join a nursing program to get qualified

Nurses are highly-trained medical professionals who use their expertise to support physicians and provide quality patient care. Depending on the area of nursing you are going into, however, the exact educational requirements you’ll need to fulfill will vary. 

In some cases, you may be able to join the profession with a nursing diploma, while in others you might be better off obtaining a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), a master’s of science in nursing (MSN), or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP). 

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When applying for jobs, you want to put your best foot forward. Before you apply to nurse positions, you should make sure that your resume is as polished as possible. 

Read more: Job Search Guide: Resources for Your Next Career Move

Ace the interview 

Job interviews allow you to expand on your skills, discuss previous work experience, and highlight your professional accomplishments. Before you start interviewing, though, make sure to set aside time to prepare. A good impression during a job interview can help your chances of landing the job.

Keep expanding your skill set

The world of health care is ever-changing. Whether you have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or even a doctorate, your education as a medical professional doesn’t end when you leave your degree program or school of nursing. In addition to having to renew your state licensure and certification periodically, you will also likely have to learn new skills and techniques as the field changes. 

To keep your skills up to date, consider taking an online course or degree program. Coursera offers 5,000 online courses, Professional Certificates, and degrees from world-class universities and companies.

The University of Minnesota’s Integrative Nursing Specialization, for example, teaches a patient-centered, relationship-based approach to nursing that utilizes a variety of integrative healing modalities.

Article sources


BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses,” Accessed October 25, 2022.

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