Become a Registered Nurse

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Empathetic and compassionate. A desire to help people. A team player.

Sound like you? A successful career in nursing may be waiting for you. Baltimore City Community College offers an Associate of Science degree for Registered Nurses that can take as little as two years to complete. Students who meet the prerequisite course requirements and admission criteria can apply in either the fall or spring semesters.
The RN program rigorously prepares students for the Maryland Board of Nursing exam. After passing, graduates can enter directly into the workforce as RNs anywhere in the country, or transfer to a four-year school for further education.

“Registered nurses are mature, focused and genuinely care about people,” says Dorothy Holley, Associate Dean for Allied Health and Nursing.

Skill and caring

What’s involved in being a nurse? “You see people at their best and at their worst, and a nurse’s goal is to be non-judgmental and respectful, and to help people get better and teach them how to get better,” Holley explains.

It’s a challenging but rewarding job that pays well. “Associate degree-holding nurses can start at $55K a year,” says Holley. “That’s not a bad return for two years of work.”  With many financial aid options and employer-based tuition help available, the investment in education is well worth it.

RNs are in high demand in Maryland and nationwide, and the federal government’s outlook for nurses over the next decade is very bright, with projected job growth upward of
15 percent, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For students looking to continue their education, Maryland has one of the best transfer arrangements for nursing students in the country. BCCC nursing grads can enter a four-year university with 90 credit hours under their belts.

Students learn through a combination of traditional classroom instruction and clinical training in one of several Baltimore-area hospitals. With 12 full-time faculty and 30 part-time instructors, students get in-depth education. The program boasts a skills laboratory and media center equipped with interactive computer training tools.

Clinical training

“Nurses have to learn how to take in a lot of information in a short amount of time,” notes Holley. “We take students into the field and work with people in need of developing that skill. A lot of the quick thinking—the ‘What am I doing next?’—eventually becomes intuitive. And there is technology that helps you keep track of details.

“But you never forget that the human being is why you are there. It takes more than getting A’s on a test,” said Holley.

After students learn the basics, they enter clinical training. A typical week for an RN student involves several hours of classroom instruction followed by time spent at the University of Maryland, Mercy, Northwest, or other hospital.

There, they meet with faculty for their daily assignments before going onto the floor and providing care in consultation with the hospital staff. At the end of the day, students report to their clinical instructor in a post-conference session and review what they’ve learned.

“People don’t always realize the rigor involved in a nursing program,” Holley states. “It has to be rigorous. A nurse’s actions can be the difference between life and death.”

“You ought to be able to give the kind of care that you would want to receive if you were the one lying in that hospital bed,” she adds. “That’s the quality that makes you a decent human being. It’s such a good feeling to make someone feel better…to make a difference.”


Registered Nurse

Median wages (2013) $31.84 hourly

$66,220 annually

Employment (2012) 2,712,000 employees

Projected growth (2012-22) Faster than average

Projected job openings (2012-22) 1,052,600

Source:, U.S. Department of Labor data.

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