How to Become A Registered Nurse In South Africa

A registered nurse is a nurse who has graduated from a nursing program and met the requirements outlined by a country, state, province or similar government-authorized licensing body to obtain a nursing license.

What is the role of a registered nurse?

The role of the Registered Nurse (RN) is to provide health care to individuals, families, and communities. They provide services designed to promote health, prevent illness, and achieve optimal recovery from or adaptation to health problems.

Do nurses give patients baths?

No. Registered nurses are not giving anyone sponge baths in a hospital floor setting. They are giving patients medications, running IV’s, performing various treatments such as changing wound bandages, catheters, etc.

Is it hard to be a registered nurse?

“Nursing is not an easy profession it requires both physical and mental stamina to make it through those 14-hour shifts.” If you love the work you are doing and believe in the impact it makes on every patient’s life, you might find yourself thriving even in a whirlwind of activity.

Below are steps to Become A Registered Nurse In South Africa

While every RN follows similar steps to earn licensure, the specific requirements vary by state. Certain states, such as South Africa, require RNs to hold at least a bachelor’s in nursing degree. The following list covers the process necessary to become a registered nurse.

1. Complete Prerequisites for an ADN or a BSN.

Whether nursing students choose an ADN or BSN degree, they must complete liberal arts, math, and science prerequisites. Common prerequisites for nursing school include basic anatomy, physiology, biology, psychology, and anatomy. Nursing schools often require that incoming students earn a minimum “C” grade in these courses.

2. Earn a BSN or an ADN Degree.

A four-year BSN degree offers an in-depth education in multiple disciplines and training in leadership, interpersonal communication, and clinical nursing. A two-year ADN degree covers nursing fundamentals and offers the fastest track to becoming a registered nurse, aside from an accelerated BSN program which lets those who hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field graduate in as little as one year.

3. Pass the NCLEX Exam.

About six weeks before graduating, students can apply for licensure and then register for the NCLEX-RN. This computerized test requires test-takers to complete a minimum of 75 questions. They have up to six hours to finish the exam.

4. Find Employment.

No matter your education path, be proactive in your career search. That means activating your college network and job resources before graduating. While the nursing field continues to grow, graduates must make an impression during clinical rotations with potential healthcare employers.

5. Earn Board Certification.

RNs who want greater recognition in their careers (and more money) become board certified. To qualify, RNs usually need about two or more years of clinical experience in a specialty focus and must pass an exam.

Registered Nurse Schooling In South Africa

Expect to spend 2-4 years completing the required education to become a registered nurse. The exact timeline depends on if you choose a two-year associate degree or four-year bachelor’s degree.

Having prior nursing experience can speed up completion time, whereas programs with more clinical hour requirements and less online options can take longer to complete. For the specifics on an ADN vs. a BSN degree, keep reading.

ADN Degree

An ADN degree provides a quick path to becoming a registered nurse. However, the degree can limit career prospects since some healthcare employers require or prefer a BSN degree. RNs also need a BSN if they want to eventually work in an advanced practice nurse role, such as a clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or nurse practitioner.

Admission Requirements: It takes a high school diploma or GED certificate to enroll in an ADN program. Schools may require a minimum 2.0-3.0 GPA. Required application materials may also include personal essays, SAT or ACT scores, and transcripts.

Program Curriculum: Students leave an ADN program prepared to deliver safe and quality patient care in many settings. Courses cover pharmacology, nutrition, health system concepts, growth, development, and aging. Programs also require clinical hours.

Time to Complete: How long it takes to complete an ADN program depends on a student’s prior college credits. Students with no other general education credits take about two years to graduate.

Skills Learned: ADN courses provide the nursing theory and practical skills to work in a clinical setting. ADN graduates learn how to deliver nursing care across diverse populations and settings through classes in multidimensional care, nursing care of older adults, and maternal and child nursing.

BSN Degree

The route to becoming a registered nurse takes longer when you earn a BSN. However, the program provides a broader education in leadership, critical thinking, coordinating patient care with doctors and other healthcare professionals, and specialized knowledge of medical conditions.

Admission Requirements: Students enter a BSN program straight from high school or after completing an ADN. BSN admissions requirements often include SAT or ACT scores, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and three letters of recommendation.

Program Curriculum: A BSN degree teaches students leadership and management in nursing, cultural awareness, how to integrate evidence into nursing practice, and contemporary issues in healthcare.

Time to Complete: Degree-seekers on average complete a BSN degree in four years or less with prior college credit. Nursing students who hold an ADN or transferable college credits can graduate within 2-3 years.

Skills Learned: BSN degree seekers not only gain fundamental nursing skills, but also tools in leadership, research, and public health. Students also develop specialized knowledge in areas, such as maternity nursing, pediatric nursing, psychiatric nursing, and acute care nursing.

ABSN Degree

Individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field can earn an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree (ABSN) and graduate in 12-18 months. This route appeals to those who want to switch careers quickly and become a registered nurse. However, the program’s rapid pace can be challenging, and the admissions process can be rigorous.

Admission Requirements: Eligible applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and a 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must also complete all prerequisites with a minimum “C” grade. Online applications typically must include personal essays, letters of recommendation, and resumes.

Program Curriculum: ABSN degrees cover research methods, assessments and interventions, and healthcare ethics, and leadership and management. Labs and clinical rotations allow students to apply nursing theories and gain experience in areas, such as pediatrics, mental and behavioral health, and acute and critical care.

Time to Complete: On average, it takes about 12-15 months to earn an ABSN degree when students study full time. Students can graduate faster when they possess transferable credits or have earned an associate degree in nursing.

Skills Learned: ABSN graduates have mastered nursing competencies enough to take the NCLEX-RN. The curriculum covers how to deliver quality patient care, use healthcare information technologies, incorporate evidence into your practice, and improve patient outcomes.

Registered Nurse Credentials

Only licensed RNs can practice in healthcare settings. RNs who meet the educational, clinical, and exam qualifications can get licensed to work. Certifications while not required for employment acknowledge a registered nurse’s expertise in specialized areas, such as pediatric acute critical care or cardiac medicine. It can also boost a registered nurse’s career in terms of pay and responsibility.


Earning licensure serves as the last step to becoming a registered nurse. Prospective nurses can get licensed by their state board of nursing after they complete their degree, clinical hours, and pass the NCLEX-RN.

Each state board sets different standards and may require additional training courses to qualify for a license. Some states allow unlicensed RNs to practice if they get a permit. RNs must typically renew their license every 1-4 years. To renew their RN license, individuals must complete training courses and/or continuing education hours.


Nursing does not require certifications, but getting these optional credentials provides greater opportunities for professional development. The South African Association of Critical Care Nurses (SAACN) offers certifications for RNs.

Qualifying RNs must complete a specific number of clinical hours and pass an exam. Having the credential validates a registered nurse’s skills in a specialized area. The AACN offers certifications in acute care, cardiac medicine, and progressive care.

How many years does it take to become a nurse in South Africa?


Nursing is a 4-year full time course. During your studies you’ll gain an integrated learning and work experience at hospitals and various clinical facilities.

What is the quickest way to become an RN in South Africa ?

If you’re itching to enter the field, the fastest way to become a nurse would be taking the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) route. While you wouldn’t actually be an RN, you could complete a Practical Nursing program and be well on your way to launching a nursing career in as few as 12 months.

How much does it cost to study nursing in South Africa?

Basic Diplomas:

Diploma in Nursing (General. Community, Psychiatry) and Midwifery: Four Years: R425. Diploma in General Nursing Science (bridging Course): Two Years: R683. Diploma in One Year Midwifery: One Year: R254.

How many years does it take to become a registered nurse in South Africa ?

Depending on the specific nursing program that you enroll in, it could take anywhere from 16 months to four years to become a registered nurse. “I chose to earn my BSN, which takes four years,” says ChiChi Akanegbu, who completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Regis College as a part of the Class .

How do you become a nurse if you have no qualifications in South Africa ?

There is no requirement for A-levels to pursue a career in nursing. If you have GCSEs at grade C or above and decide to go to university you can simply take the Access to HE Diploma route, which will allow you to go to university.

What grades do you need for nursing school in South Africa ?

CNA and LPN programs might not have a minimum GPA, while many associate’s programs require at least a 2.5. College and universities offering bachelor’s and graduate degrees often require a 3.0 or higher. The more advanced the degree and prestigious the program, the better your GPA will need to be.

Do you have to be good at math to be a nurse in South Africa ?

Nursing in the “real world” generally requires very basic math skills, but almost all programs require at least one college-level math class usually algebra. Some nursing schools may require a basic statistics course as well, so if you know what schools you’re applying to, be sure to check for this requirement.

What should I study before starting nursing school in South Africa ?

Topics to review before nursing school starts

Fluids, fluids and more fluids.

Cardiovascular System.

Pulmonary System.

Renal System.

Acid/Base Balance.


Endocrine System and Feedback Loops.

Dimensional Analysis.

How many points are required for nursing in South Africa ?

28 APS points

Look left to see the entry requirements for a Nursing degree or diploma. According to the Western Cape College of Nursing, the minimum entry requirements for a diploma in Nursing is: Grade 12 (Std 10) – Minimum 28 APS points.