How to Become a Nurse Researcher

How To Become a Nurse Researcher

A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), is the general prerequisite for becoming a Nurse Researcher as you will need to be a RN and have the schooling to advance.

Most nurse researchers also acquire at least a master’s degree, and many go on to take a PhD in nursing as well. It has now become almost a requirement that a nurse researcher hold a doctoral degree.

This field of the nursing profession will appeal most to those who have a strong scientific background and enjoy the dedication necessary to conduct in-depth research and have the ability to draw conclusions from this research.

1. Earn an Associate's Degree (3 Years)

You can become an RN in three years through a nursing diploma program or associate degree program. Many community colleges offer Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs.

Many new RNs will begin their education with an ADN program, then later advance to enrollment in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or master’s degree programs.

During your time you will take general education courses along with Anatomy, Nursing, Nutrition, Chemistry, and Microbiology. An ADN will allow you into entry-level nursing positions.

2. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

In order to become a nurse researcher, you will need a BSN degree to qualify for a master's program a few years later. A conventional BSN program takes 4 years to complete.

A popular movement now finds more and more colleges and universities offering students who already hold a bachelor’s in another field an accelerated route to nursing-program graduation.

These accelerated BSN programs take between 12 to 18 months to complete. If you already have your RN from an associate's degree, you can do the RN-to-BSN program in 2 to 3 years, which can open you up to more opportunity and growth.

3. Consider Earning a Master's Degree (3 Years)

It's not necessary to get your master's to be a practicing RN, but you need to get your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to become a nurse researcher.

Since you must get a doctoral degree for some jobs, this is a necessary step. There are programs available for an accelerated master’s degree (MSN), which takes about three years to complete.

More and more RN-to-MSN and BSN-to-Ph.D. programs are being launched as a way to meet the increasing demand for more highly educated nurses in the workforce.

Another accelerated program is being offered by an increasing number of four-year institutions. These programs, called articulation agreements, are formed in collaboration with community and junior colleges to enable associate degree nurses or bachelor’s degree nurses to effortlessly transition into BSN and MSN programs.

4. Earn the Required Certification

Regardless of the type of entry into practice program you attend, all graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before they can practice as a registered nurse.

The exam is administered by each state’s board of nursing. In order to take the test, you must first apply for your nursing license from your state board. Each state is different, so you must check to see if you meet all of the requirements for your state.

The NCLEX covers the following:

  • Safe, effective care environment: Management care and safety and infection control
  • Psychosocial integrity: Coping and adaptation and psychosocial adaptation
  • Health promotion and maintenance: Growth and development through the life span and prevention and early detection of disease
  • Physiology integrity: Basic care and comfort, pharmacological and parenteral therapies, reduction of risk potential and physiological adaptation 

5. Earn a Doctoral Degree (4-6 Years)

You will want to get a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing since your job will be mostly in research. The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing is a research-based degree program that prepares you for teaching and researching.

The program can last 4-5 years and prepares you to continuously build on your knowledge of Nursing. The program places great emphasis on theory construction and research methods. It develops knowledge in special interest areas.

The Ph.D. in nursing, has a base of theory, science, and research that provides the prerequisite knowledge and expertise for the development, evaluation, and testing of theories in nursing.