Nurses often have the most contact with a patient as they provide care since doctors are busy seeing dozens of patients each day. This is true in the state of Pennsylvania, which employs more than 125,000 registered nurses (RNs) and more than 37,000 licensed practical nurses (LPNs) according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To join the healthcare field in this state, it's important to learn how to become a nurse in Pennsylvania.

Determine the type of nursing. Hospitals and other medical facilities employ both registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). While RNs generally make more than LPNs, they also spend more time in school receiving a degree. Learn more about the differences between the two types of nurse positions available in Pennsylvania by visiting the website of Penn State University's Nursing Department. Spend time shadowing both an LPN and RN to get an even better glimpse into the daily activities and tasks each nurse performs.

Find a school. Visit the website of the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission to learn what LPN and RN programs are available in the state of Pennsylvania. Contact each school to learn more about their nursing program and arrange a time to tour the campus and meet with a nursing faculty member. Find out what type of financial aid is available for nursing students while also getting an overview of the admissions process. Choose the school that is the best fit for your career ambitions as well as personal academic needs.

Earn your degree. Apply for admission and get accepted to a nursing school to begin coursework towards your nursing degree. Spend one to four years taking courses to earn your certificate or degree to become a nurse in Pennsylvania. Take a combination of general education courses as well as nursing classes. Complete classroom assignments and labs as well as clinicals at local hospitals and nursing homes. Receive a nursing certificate or diploma to become an LPN while RNs receive either an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing.

Apply for a nursing license. Obtain and fill out the application to get a license as a nurse in the state of Pennsylvania from the website of the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. Submit the application with a $35 licensing fee, and ask the director of your nursing program to complete and submit the nursing education verification form. This verifies you have obtained the education necessary to be licensed as an LPN or RN in the state of Pennsylvania. Submit an official transcript from your nursing program if your unable to reach your nursing program director.

Pass the licensing exam. Register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX licensing exam to become an LPN or RN in Pennsylvania. Schedule the actual date to take the test at one of the Pearson Vue centers in Pennsylvania after receiving the authorization to test (ATT) letter from the licensing board. Pass the exam and receive your license to work as a nurse in the state of Pennsylvania within 30 days of taking the test.