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Here’s What to Do After Graduating Nursing School

Are you graduating nursing school soon? Congrats! Completing nursing school is a remarkable and rewarding accomplishment, but your journey doesn’t end here. The next steps you take are critical to launching your nursing career! Learn what to do after nursing school, how to navigate the workforce as a recent graduate, and what actions to take to keep learning below.

Register for the NCLEX and Apply for Your Licensure

There’s no need to contemplate what to do after nursing school. In fact, you’ve heard of it all throughout school—the infamous NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Passing this standardized exam is a requirement to become a licensed registered nurse. The sooner you register, the faster you’ll be able to set your study schedule, take (and pass) the exam, and enter the workforce. 

The steps to registering are as follows:

  1. Apply for licensure at the Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB) in the state you’re seeking to be licensed.
  2. Register with Pearson VUE, where you’ll pay the necessary exam fees and schedule your test.
  3. Receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) email that verifies your eligibility to test. 
  4. Find a testing location near you and schedule your exam appointment.

Questions? Learn more at the NCLEX registration page

Update Your Resume and Start Applying for Nursing Jobs

resume

While your licensure remains pending, update your resume and LinkedIn to highlight your recent degree, certifications, clinical experiences, past jobs you held as a nursing student, and any relevant ventures. Job hunting takes time, so don’t be afraid to start searching now for nursing positions in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare environments nearby. Spice up your resume with appropriate keywords, and remember to line up and prepare your references.

How much do new graduate nurses make?

Thinking about pay? Salaries vary based on factors like location, facility, and specialization. When graduating nursing school, research the salary expectations for new nurses in your area and what would be adequate compensation for your experience. To start, look at the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data. In 2022, the mean annual wage for registered nurses was $89,010.

Prepare for Interviews

To prepare for your nursing interviews, practice common interview questions and your potential responses. The more you practice and memorize your talking points, the better you will showcase your experiences and accomplishments. It also helps to research your employer via their website, Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other sources. If you ever encounter a question that catches you off guard, be personable and honest! Showing your personality can go a long way and demonstrate that you’re a good fit.

Study for the NCLEX

studying

You should be following a dedicated study schedule for the NCLEX once you have your test date! With a solid schedule, you can focus on studying efficiently and celebrate milestones before taking your exam.

Use resources like textbooks, review courses, and practice exams to reinforce your nursing knowledge. Helpful study tools like Picmonic’s audiovisual learning system will help you keep consistent, focused study sessions to boost your confidence and readiness for the exam. With spaced-repetition quizzes, funky and memorable picture mnemonics, and comprehensive coverage of NCLEX topics, Picmonic offers a Pass the NCLEX® Guarantee so you’re prepped to pass on your first try!

Learn more about the Pass the NCLEX® Guarantee.

Practice NCLEX-style Questions

Navigate to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website to get familiar with the NCLEX exam format, question types, and scoring rules. You’ll need a solid understanding of the exam to practice NCLEX-style questions and prepare for your test day. As you practice questions like Picmonic’s NCLEX question of the day, you’ll enhance your clinical judgment skills. Read how to answer NCLEX-style questions for more tips.

Prepare for Test Day

Of course, you’re up to the test! Before your NCLEX exam day, ensure you’re well-rested, organized, and familiar with your testing center. Double-check you have your government-issued ID, ATT, and other necessities before you arrive early to your exam nourished and hydrated! That’s all you’ll need to succeed if you’ve followed your study schedule up to this point. You’ve got this. 

Look into Continuing Education

graduation cap on top of books

Bravo, you’re a licensed registered nurse! What else are you supposed to do after nursing school? Well, after securing your first nursing position, consider opportunities for continuing education. As required by most states, you must renew your licensing by continuing education (CE). If it’s your first renewal, you are exempt from the CE requirement. 

In the future, CE courses will be taken through an education provider provided by the BRN. However, you may be able to engage in conferences and training paid for by your employer to meet some requirements. Nurses have to be lifelong learners for patient safety and care, but staying informed can help you advance and develop professionally too. You may want to think about taking your education to the next level!

Consider NP School

If you’re aspiring to advance your nursing career, gain more knowledge, and provide more essential care to patients, consider Nurse Practitioner (NP) school. NPs enjoy increased autonomy and expanded responsibilities like assessing and diagnosing patients solo and even administering medication in some states. With a positive job outlook, higher pay, and rewarding day-to-day responsibilities, why not? Explore our RN to NP guide for valuable insights into the transition from RN to NP.

Celebrate!

Amidst job searching, resume writing, and studying, take a moment (or many moments) to celebrate your achievements. Whether you enjoy time with friends and family or a much-needed self-care day, completing nursing school is an amazing accomplishment. Acknowledge your hard work and dedication after you graduate and for every milestone you achieve. Your dedication doesn’t go unseen, and you deserve to feel proud of all you’ve accomplished. Kudos to you!

Picmonic is here for you before and after nursing school. Join today.

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