Nurse FAQs

Q. Do most nurses work in the hospital?

A. While the hospitals have lots of nurses, those nurses only make up about 50% of the nurse workforce in Vermont. Nurses work in schools, doctor offices, long-term care facilities, and in our community. Check out the section, Explore Careers, to learn about some of the career options in nursing.

Q. What is a Registered Nurse?

A. After graduating from a nursing school at either a two-year or a four-year college, you must take an examination to become a licensed registered nurse. The exam is called the NCLEX examination. NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination. Don’t panic, almost everyone passes, and if you don’t pass the first time, you can take it again. The state will send your license to you by mail. If you want to be a traveling nurse, you’ll be able to get a license in each state.

Q. How long does it take to become a nurse?

A. There is more than one way to become a nurse. There are two-year programs at colleges in Vermont, and four-year programs at the University of Vermont, Norwich University, Southern Vermont College, and Castleton University. Most of these programs require certain classes to enter the program (called pre-requisites). If you don’t have them already, you’ll have to take them first. A college counselor can help you plan your schedule. High school students can get a jump-start on college by taking 2-4 years of:

  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Foreign Language
  • Computer Science

Guidance counselors are there to help, so ask for their assistance. Remember, a four-year degree will give you the most career options.

Q. What if I can’t stand the sight of blood?

A. Not everyone is cut out for the emergency room or the operating room. Many nurses choose to stay out of the hospital, and don’t wear a uniform. There are so many options in the profession. One is bound to suit you.

If you want to be the boss, nursing has a place for you. Nurses are:

  • educators
  • managers
  • executives
  • entrepreneurs
  • lawyers
  • government officials

Nurses can also work with the police in forensics departments, on movie sets, as flight nurses in the military, and as expert witnesses. When it comes to finding a challenging career as a nurse, the possibilities are endless.

Q. Do you have to be good at math and science to be a nurse?

A. You don’t have to love math and science to be a nurse, you just have to pass it. You should, however, be interested in the structure of the body (anatomy) and how it functions (physiology) if you want to be nurse.

There are great nurses working today who will tell you, “I was never any good at math.” Many schools have tutoring programs to help you. Teachers and classmates may also be willing to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask. Remember, math and science are just small parts of your total nursing education.

Q. Is nursing a good profession for guys?

A. Nursing is for anyone who wants to:

  • earn between $50,000 and $75,000 per year
  • be able to work anywhere in the world
  • work with their hands and their mind
  • make a difference every day (save a life)
  • have flexible hours
  • use technology

More men and more people of color are entering nursing today than ever before. Former firefighters and military personnel choose nursing for the thrill of working in the emergency room or the fun of pediatrics.

Q. How much money do nurses make?

A. New graduate nurses in Vermont make on average $32/hour, depending on geographic location. The annual mean salary in Vermont is around $67,780 per year. The more education and experience you have, the more money you can earn. For example, nurse practitioners can make over $100,000 per year.

Q. Is nursing school expensive?

A. Some students complete prerequisites at Community College of Vermont. State colleges are the least expensive way to go. The tuition at Vermont state colleges is about $10,000 – $12,000 per year. Four-year schools are around $17,000 per year. But don’t let these numbers scare you. The fact is, universities and larger colleges sometimes have the best programs for helping you afford school. Four-year degrees offer even greater opportunities in nursing than two-year degrees.

There is a lot of money out there to help you pay for tuition, housing, meals, books, etc. You just have to put in a little effort to get it. Check out Financial Aid on this site to find out where some of the money is. And… never cross a school off of your list because of cost.

Q. What types of classes will I have to take to become a nurse?

A. Nursing education includes:

Supervised “hands on” clinical experience in places like hospitals, clinics, community agencies and other health care settings. (A health care setting is anywhere patient care is provided.)
Classroom instruction in courses such as:

  • Basic Nutrition
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Human Anatomy (structure of the body)
  • Physiology (how the body functions)
  • Human Development
  • Microbiology (germs)
  • Nursing Science
  • Pharmacology (drugs and medicines)
  • Communication

The classes you are required to take can vary from program to program so you will need to check out requirements for the school you’re interested in attending.

Q. What can I do to learn more about nursing before entering college?

A. To learn more about nursing, find out about volunteer programs at local hospitals or health care organizations in your community. Talk to a nurse!