What to Do After Graduating Nursing School

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If you are deciding what to do after graduating nursing school, it is important that you plan ahead. Learn about studying for and taking the NCLEX licensure exam, applying for jobs, developing your career, and how Mercer's ABSN track can help you prepare for what to do after nursing school.

nurse holding clipboard

Are you considering a nursing education or already enrolled in Mercer University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track? Once you earn your degree, you will begin your journey as a nursing professional. Wherever you may be in the process, you must prepare for what to do after nursing school.

You will graduate with the skills necessary to become a practice-ready nurse by completing the ABSN track, but you must complete several steps before starting a nursing position. We want to ensure you are prepared for a long-lasting and fulfilling career, so let’s examine what to do after graduating nursing school.

Create an NCLEX Study Plan

After earning your nursing degree, you will not be allowed to practice nursing until you have passed your licensure exam. The first step after graduating is registering to take your NCLEX-RN®. This exam is distributed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which will license you as a registered nurse (RN). This test is divided into four main sections to ensure you have a holistic knowledge of nursing best practices.

You can utilize a variety of study materials before taking the exam. Becoming familiar with question formats, materials, and test-taking skills ahead of time will ensure you are as prepared as possible to take your licensure exam.

Take the NCLEX Exam

nurse studying in common area

After completing your study plan, reviewing schoolwork, and receiving any additional tutoring you might need, you are finally ready to take the Next Gen NCLEX-RN exam and become a licensed nurse. You will be evaluated based on a passing standard and practical analyses. These standards determine the minimum requirements for practicing safe nursing care and the validity of the NCLEX content distribution. Since new study material is constantly being released, you need the most up-to-date knowledge to prepare for the exam.

When you pass the NCLEX, you can officially begin working as an RN. If you do not pass, you can retake the test. Some states require you to take a review course after a certain number of unsuccessful attempts.

Apply for Jobs

You need a passing NCLEX score to obtain licensure and begin working as a nurse, but you can start applying for jobs beforehand. If you want a job upon graduating, it is a good idea to start applying a few weeks before you take the exam.

You might want to consider submitting applications to Magnet hospitals in your area. Magnet status is awarded to medical facilities that provide a high level of patient care and are reputed for maintaining satisfied nursing staff. Hiring criteria for Magnet organizations also include requiring all nurses to have a BSN degree or higher.

nurse in gray scrubs smiling at camera

Learn more about Magnet hospitals and why you should consider working there.

Make sure you apply to hospitals in states where you will be licensed to work. If you choose to stay in Georgia upon graduating, you may be glad to hear that Georgia is a nurse licensure compact state, meaning you can work in multiple states.

Get Acclimated to Your First Nursing Position

Once you have been hired as a licensed nurse, you will begin your first job! You now get to help others heal for a living. With these new changes, you must be adaptable and teachable.

As a lifelong learner, each day will bring new experiences and learning opportunities. An excellent nurse never stops adapting and committing their experiences to memory. This will help you grow as a professional, improve patient outcomes, and even advance in the workplace. Your time in nursing school is foundational to how you practice, but remember that your work as a nurse will contain just as much education.

Start Advancing Your Career

student smiling at camera in mock hospital room

Once you have settled into your job as a nurse, you can begin exploring different areas of nursing to see if you would like to pursue further education. There is much room for you to grow in your nursing career. Many registered nurses discover they are passionate about a particular nursing specialty and choose to return to school for an advanced degree in that area. Others choose to become nurse practitioners or open their own practice.

You can also lead a perfectly fulfilling career with your BSN degree if you so choose. Many high-paying jobs, such as ICU nursing, informatics nursing, and travel nursing, are ideal for nurses who want to expand their careers without going back to school.

Military nurse giving patient a vaccine shot

If bedside nursing is not for you, here are 12 alternate career paths to consider.

How Mercer Prepares You to Graduate as a Practice-Ready Nurse

Through the ABSN track at Mercer University, you will be fully equipped to start your nursing journey in as few as 12 months from your start date. With our comprehensive curriculum, you will gain the same solid knowledge base and experience as you would through a traditional track with our online coursework, on-ground simulation labs, and clinical rotations.

With a better idea of what to do after graduating nursing school, it is time to take the first step in your nursing journey. Contact us today to speak with an admissions counselor who will answer any questions you have about the ABSN track.