What is a Paramedic to RN Program? It is not uncommon for experienced paramedics to want to take their career to the next level. Yet the idea of starting over completely can be daunting. But you don’t have to start over completely. There are programs that will recognize your current level of training and experience […]
It is not uncommon for experienced paramedics to want to take their career to the next level. Yet the idea of starting over completely can be daunting. But you don’t have to start over completely. There are programs that will recognize your current level of training and experience so that you do not have to repeat coursework that you may already know, or even be an expert in.
Paramedic to registered nurse (RN) programs are specially designed for people like you. These programs will prepare you with nursing theory and nursing specific courses, as well as clinical experiences so that you will be equipped to take the NCLEX and begin working as an RN. These programs can take 1 to 2 years to complete depending on the school and whether or not you attend full time.
They are often referred to as “Bridge Programs” since they allow you to bypass aspects of the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs so that you enter later in the program and receive credit for you current level of training. Keep in mind that each school will have a set of requirements that you must meet before applying. These can include a certain number of years of experience as a paramedic as well as pre-requisite coursework.
As a nurse you will be have a higher salary and more autonomy and education to make important clinical decisions regarding your patients. While you can continue to work in emergency care as an RN you can also change to another specialty. See below for more examples of the types of environments you can work in. As an RN you will also have more flexibility to continue advancing your career if you want to. Once you have your RN you can pursue your BSN, MSN, or DNP to take your nursing career to the next level.
Entrance Requirements for Paramedic to RN Programs
Requirements for entrance will depend on the universities you apply to. Mesa Community College has a Paramedic to RN program that offers a good example of what you can expect in terms of entrance requirements:
You must have a high school diploma or your GED. You will need to submit your transcripts when you apply.
Additionally, there are certain pre-requisite courses you will have to take. These may be:
Chemistry with lab
Anatomy and Physiology I and II
College level math
Pharmacology & Med Administration II
You will need to pass an admission exam as a part of your application.
Your paramedic license must be active.
You must have 1 year minimum of paramedic experience in the past 3 years.
You may also need letters of recommendation for your application.
A resume will help to highlight your experience.
You may have to pay an application fee.
Online Paramedic to RN Programs
Most schools in most fields offer some sort of online option for their programs and paramedic to RN programs are no different. If you desire increased flexibility during your education so that you can better balance your life commitments. Online programs allow you to complete coursework remotely and can significantly lessen the amount of time you have to spend on campus. Professors can assign work remotely for you to complete at home and in some cases your classes will even be held online! When you’re applying be sure to talk to you prospective schools about how they assist you with coordinating your clinical experiences.
As a paramedic you already have a solid foundation in healthcare. The courses you will complete as a part of your RN program will fill in the gaps of knowledge that you do not have. These courses prepare you to take the NCLEX exam and become an RN. The courses you take will depend on your individual program, but in general you can expect to take classes like those offered at Belmont College:
Paramedic Transitional Nursing
Concepts of Family Nursing
Acute Care Concepts
Transition to Professional Role
You can check with your individual state board of nursing (BON) to see how many clinical hours you are required to complete during your RN education. Clinical hours are supervised hands on nursing experience that allow you to put into practice what you’ve learn and perfect your skills in a safe manner. Most states require around 500 clinical hours for you to sit for the NCLEX. During your clinical rotations you will be supervised by an experienced nurse who will help you develop your skills and knowledge.
How Much Will it Cost?
Nursing school is expensive. This can often be a deterrent for people seeking to further their education, especially if they are already in a healthcare field. Luckily for you your paramedic to RN program will be shorter and cheaper than a traditional RN program. Additionally, since RNs are in such high demand in many parts of the country there are plenty of services that will help you pay back your student debt. When you are searching for programs to apply to, be sure to check out public schools or community colleges. Price will depend on the type of bridge program you complete.
Mesa Community College: $4,010 for the program. Note: this program prepares you to enter into the ADN program at the college a little bit ahead of other students. This cost does not include the ADN program costs. Check your schools to be sure what is included in your bridge program costs.
Once you are an RN there are various ways in which you can get your debt paid off. Many of the loan forgiveness programs available are incentives for nurses to work in areas that desperately need healthcare. These areas are typically referred to as being “medically underserved.” Check out the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. They will help you pay off your debt if you commit to working in underserved areas. This can help motivate you to enroll in that paramedic to RN program and start your career as a nurse! You also look at the Perkins Loan Cancellation, military programs, and repayment programs offered through individual hospitals.
You can also use our state guides to help you find scholarships that are offered on a state by state basis.
How Much Do RNs Earn?
Nursing is a competitive field, and with the flexibility you have to continuously advance your career, your long term financial growth options are quite large. As an RN you will already be making around $66,640 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you choose to work in an urban area you will likely make more than if you work in rural one. Additionally, if you work for a private hospital versus a public one or a community health center your salary may be greater. However, this may also limit your opportunities to do loan forgiveness programs that require you to work in underserved areas. What state you work in will also affect your salary. Some states such as Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Alaska, and Oregon pay nurses between $80,000 and $96,000 per year.
What are Some Specialty Areas I Could Work in as an RN?
Coming from a paramedic role where you are a first responder working with emergent health issue with patients, you will be able to stay in that specialty as an RN or branch out. The options are endless. Some specialty areas like an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) may require you to have some nursing experience before you can work there, but this will likely depend on the hospital and your individual paramedic experience. Here are some examples of areas where you can work as an RN:
School Nurse:Students will rely on you when they are sick, need medications, vaccines, health education and more. You may even get your summers off!
Postpartum: On a postpartum floor you will care for mother’s and babies in the days following birth and help the whole family adjust to their new life.
Labor and Delivery: Here you will help soon to be mothers through labor, delivery, and immediately after giving birth.
Oncology: You will be a vital part of the healthcare team caring for patients with cancer who are in treatment.
Emergency Department: As an ED nurse you will take your paramedic skills to the next level continuing care for patients when they arrive to the hospital.
Medical Surgical Floor: When patients come out of surgery or are hospitalized for a acute conditions they will rely on you to provide them with care as they heal and prepare for discharge.
Telemetry Nurse:Telemetry nurse monitor patients vital signs closely so that they can intervene if care does not go as planned.
Operating Room: As an OR nurse you will be responsible for ensuring that the patient is stable and healthy during surgery. You may also assist in the surgical procedures.
Trauma Nurse:As a trauma nurse you will care for people who have been in life threatening accidents or have severe health issues. You will likely work with the emergency department team and may see some overlap from your paramedic days.
Traveling Nurse: With this nursing position you will be able to travel the country (maybe even the world) and spend time in various specialties caring for patients.
4 Steps To Register for the NCLEX
Your school should play an active role in preparing you for the NCLEX. Make sure you have plenty of time to go through all the steps for registration and studying so that you are not rushing at the last minute. Check out these steps to help you prepare for the big day:
Be sure to look at your state’s BON website so that you can sign up to take the NCLEX. You can find information about your states’s BON on the NCBSN website.
Your BON will also tell you what you need to be eligible to take the NCLEX.
Pearson VUE is where you will register for the actual exam . You will need your program code to do this! Your school can help you with this step if it is a bit confusing.
Have you already earned your bachelor’s degree but are now thinking of a career change to nursing? Are you interested in getting an advanced degree beyond a BSN? If so, then a direct entry master’s in nursing program may be just the path for you. These programs are designed for people who have a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing. During the program you will be first trained as a nurse and sit for the NCLEX, and then you will complete the program to earn your masters. You may also hear direct entry programs being referred to as “accelerated” nursing programs. After completing these programs you will have earned your master’s of science in nursing (MSN) or a master’s of science with a nursing major. Either way these degrees will prepare you to practice as a nurse at the advanced level. These two degrees are seen as equal within the nursing profession. Be sure to thoroughly check the entrance requirements for the schools you are thinking of applying to. Often you will be required to have taken pre-requisite courses such as anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, microbiology, human developmental psychology and more. With your MSN you will be able to provide direct patient care as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).
Why Should I Earn a Master’s in Nursing?
Going for your master’s is a great way to get an advanced degree that will enable you to care for patients through assessing, diagnosing, and treating them. Earning a master’s will enable you to utilize evidence based care and impact the health care system as a whole. With a master’s degree you will have a greater understand of health, patient, and population needs as well as how the whole system works. This will give you the tools to do what you came into nursing to do: make positive change in the world. You will be able to provide quality As a master’s prepared nurse you can improve patient quality of care and safety, lead healthcare teams, enhance healthcare delivery, train other health professionals, and engage in valuable research. As a master’s prepared nurse you will not only have more autonomy and be able to advance your career, but will also have a higher salary.
Bachelor’s degree: A bachelor’s degree is the minimum degree requirement for these programs, but it doesn’t have to be in nursing!
GRE: The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for most master’s programs inside and outside of nursing. Be sure to send your scores to your schools!
Complete pre-requisites: Check with the schools you are applying to and see what courses you need before applying. This way you know you have everything taken care of when you hit submit on that application.
Letters of recommendation: Compile a list of and contact the people you want to write your letter(s) of recommendation. School applications will tell you how many you need.
GPA: Check the GPA requirements of the schools you are applying to. Minimums are often around a 3.0
Submit applications: Once you have everything put together write your essays, answer the application questions, and submit it with your required materials such as transcripts from your pre-requisites and bachelor’s degree. You may also need to pay an application fee.
Interview: Some of your schools may require interviews. If so, good luck!
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Direct Entry Master’s Program?
Program length varies but you can expect it to take between 2-3 years. Some programs will require that you work as an RN during a period of around 6 months during the program. This may increase the total amount of time of the program for you, but this experience will be valuable.
Online Direct Entry Programs
Like many advanced degrees nowadays there are online options. You will still need to complete the required clinical hours in person. Depending on your program you may have a few classes in person, but otherwise you should be able to complete the majority through the comfort of your home or chosen work destination. This means classes, assignments, discussions, and quizzes may all be online. You may even be connecting to your classes for live sessions where all of the students and the professor are able to interact with each other. Make sure your program is ACEN or CCNE. After that get ready to enjoy the convenience of class from home. This can enable you continue on with your other life commitments to work, family, friends, or other social obligations. Applications will likely be similar to other MSN programs, and if you have questions about the online components feel free to contact the admissions department at the school. Also be sure to ask them about how they will help you organize your clinical experience.
What MSN Specializations Are Available
Your options are endless. With Direct Entry programs you can choose a program where you will provide direct patient care such as a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) or Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), or you can go the route of being a nurse leader. Depending on your path you can either provide direct or indirect patient care. If you have additional questions you can check out our Comprehensive Guide to Advanced Practice Nursing. You can specialize in the following areas. Take a look at the following list to see what kinds of areas you can specialize in.
If you know you want to be an NP, you will need to know what population you want to work with before applying. This is because NPs are certified based on population foci, or what age group or type of patients they work with. By working as an NP you will provide direct patient care. This means assessing patients, diagnosing them through care exam and lab and imaging results, as well as treating them in the form of education, providing recommendations, and prescribing medications. During your program you will need to complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours. Clinical hours are experienced where another NP or physician will supervise and teach you while you care for patients. This will prepare you to be a safe and effective provider. The number of clinical hours you will need to complete will vary based on your population foci and university, but in general you can expect to complete between 500-600 hours. During your master’s you will be required to complete a certain number of hands on clinical hours to ensure that you master the skills necessary to be a safe and effective NP. Here are the different populations you can focus in as an NP:
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PCPNP)
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-PCNP)
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (AC PNP)
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)
Other Direct Care MSN Specialties
Understanding APRN roles can be confusing…so take a peek at our guide first. Aside from the NP role there are 3 other types of APRN roles that provide direct care to patients. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) these (along with NPs) are what make up APRNs.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) – CNMs provide care for women not only during pregnancy bu also throughout their life. You will be able to care for them as they deliver their babies and when they encounter various health issues. Your skills will also include performing minor surgical procedures, prescribing medications ,and more.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): Working as a CNS means that you will be an expert in your field as you provide care to patients in need. State regulations vary, so depending on where you work you may or may not have the ability to diagnose and prescribe medications.
Indirect Care MSN Specialities
Providing direct patient care is not the only way to make a difference as a nurse. The healthcare industry is constantly in need of caring, compassionate individuals who are trained to be leaders, educators, and administrators. With the following nursing specialties you will be able to provide indirect patient care by altering the healthcare system as a whole and thereby influencing patient outcomes. You may hear these types of nurses as being referred to as advanced practice roles. However, they do not technically fall under the APRN umbrella.
Nurse Educator – As a nurse educator you will play a vital role in educating nurse in their clinical work places as well as in academic institutions, thus advancing healthcare and improving clinical outcomes.
Clinical Nurse Leader – Your role will be to lead healthcare teams to provide the best possible patient outcomes and improve the overall delivery of healthcare.
Nurse Administrator: As a nurse administrator you will have the flexibility to work at the executive or manager level. With time and experience you will have potential for career growth. You will be a key player in optimizing nursing work environments which will enable the entire healthcare team to deliver better care.
What Will I Study in My Direct Entry Program
With all direct entry programs, the first part of your curriculum will be nursing courses that are required for you to register for and pass the NCLEX. Curriculum will vary depending on the school. After you complete your pre-requisite course most direct entry programs will require courses similar to what Boston College does:
Nursing Practice and Public Health in the Community
Adult Health Theory
Adult and Population Health Nursing Clinical
Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Life Span
Childbearing Nursing Theory
Child Health Nursing Theory
Psych-Mental Health Nursing Theory
Childbearing Nursing Clinical
Child Health Nursing Clinical
Psych-Mental Health Nursing Clinical
Advanced Pharmacology Across the Lifespan
Nursing Synthesis Practicum (Clinical)
Advanced Health Assessment Across the Lifespan
Conceptual Basis for Advanced Practice Nursing
Ethical Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing
Advanced Specialty Theory I Course
Advanced Specialty Clinical I Course
Role of Advanced Practice Nurses
Advanced Specialty Theory II Course
Advanced Specialty Clinical II Course
Having supervised clinical experience (also known as clinical hours) is required to provide direct nursing care to patients at the advanced level. Your school and program should be involved in letting you know how may hours you need to complete, and where you can do them. Depending on the type of APRN you are (NP, CNM, CRNA or CNS) you will have a certain number of hours to complete. Even if you are getting your master’s in an indirect patient care field such as nurse education, you may be required to have a certain number of clinical hours as a part of your education and/or past experience. Check with your prospective programs before applying so you are aware of the requirements. Supervised clinical experiences are designed so that you can learn to assess, diagnose, and treat while being supported, taught, and supervised by an experienced nurse. These hours will be in clinics that focus on your specific patient population. During these clinical experiences you will be trained to assess, diagnose, treat, and educate patients. This is an ideal time for you to put into practice the skills you have been learning in your direct entry program. Since you will be completing both RN and APRN requirements in a direct entry program you will have clinical experiences for both of these portions of your education. You may have more than one placement and your clinical teacher will be experienced in their field.
How Much Are Direct Entry Degree Programs
Education in the US is expensive. In nursing this is no different, but there is hope! State schools are less expensive than private ones, and since you will be in a public service field there are ways for you to get your debt paid for. The cost of direct entry programs are typically the same per credit as other master’s in nursing programs. Since you will likely take more credits than you would if you did a traditional MSN, you will probably pay a little more over all. Don’t forget to factor in your course materials! It is also possible to get scholarships and in the US students frequently take out loans to pay for their graduate degree. Here are examples of tuition costs at a state and private university:
University of Texas: $1390 per credit or about $15,000 each year for state residents taking a full credit load
Since you are going into the public service field there are some programs listed below. You can apply for these programs after graduation and if you work in certain areas, like medically underserved locations, they will help pay off your debt. These are called loan forgiveness programs:
Check out our state guides for additional ways that you can get your education paid for.
How Much Do Nurses with an MSN Earn
With an MSN you are about to earn a very competitive salary. Since there are so many nursing roles you could take on after earning your MSN your salary can vary. CRNAs have the highest salary due to the risks of the type of care they provide. With your MSN, depending on your role, you can make anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000 per year. If you are an NP, CNM or CNS you will make between $75, 000 and $120,000 per year and as a nurse educator you can make between $60,00 and $120,000. You years of experience and the state you work in can also effect this. If you decide to go the business route, you can make up to $145,000 as a nurse executive.
First off, you might want to read our Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) Guide to learn more about the over all degree. A BSN is one of the degrees you can earn in order to become a registered nurse (RN). BSN programs prepare you through classwork and clinical experiences to sit for the NCLEX exam and work as an RN. The second degree BSN program is specifically designed for people who already have a bachelors degree in another field. These programs may also be referred to Direct Entry or Accelerated BSN (ABSN) programs. Typically, a Second Degree BSN program will take about 2 years. It may take longer if you choose to enroll part-time. By earning your BSN you will be regarded as a highly employable nurse.
Why Should I Consider an Accelerated BSN / Second Degree BSN?
If you already have bachelors and are hoping to make a career change into nursing doing one of these programs may be just the path for you. You won’t have to waste time taking core courses such as history and English. Instead you can just jump right in and focus on the nursing specific courses. Another advantage of getting your BSN is that if you decide to further your career even more later and earn your PhD or become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you will have the required degree to apply.
Number of Accelerated BSN Programs in the United States
About 235 ABSN programs exist in the U.S. giving you plenty of options to choose from. Research ABSN programs offered in your state or online.
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Entrance Requirements for Accelerated BSN Programs
Each university will vary somewhat in their application requirements. in general you can expect them to align with George Washington University’s requirements:
You must have a bachelors degree in another field. You will be required to submit proof of completion such as your transcripts. You should also have graduated with a GPA of at least 3.0.
Additionally, there are certain pre-requisite courses you will have to take. These may be:
Anatomy and Physiology
As a part of your application you will have to submit letters of recommendation.
Make sure you submit an up to date resume to highlight your experience.
Most programs will require you to write at least 1 essay or a personal statement.
Submitting the application will likely involve a fee. This can vary from school to school.
Some programs require prospective students to interview as well.
Online Accelerated BSN Programs
Many schools now have at least partially online options for completing your BSN. These programs can enable you to continue working and meet other life goals while you pursue your education. These programs use technology to deliver classes online and allow you to complete assignments and class discussions from the comfort of your own home. They will also work with you to help you get obtain clinical experiences near your home or in a location convenient for you.
What Will I Study While Earning My ABSN Program?
Earning your BSN whether in a traditional or accelerated format requires that you complete certain courses. These courses are necessary to be eligible to take the NCLEX exam to become an RN. The benefit is that since this is your second degree, you will not have to repeat core courses that are not nursing related. George Washington University’s program offers a good example of what a typical second degree BSN curriculum will look like:
Health Policy, Quality, and Political Process
Ethics in Nursing
Evidence-Based-Practice for Healthcare Researchers
Pediatric Nursing Theory and Clinical
Nursing Practice and Clinical Reasoning II: Advanced Adult Medical-Surgical
Nursing Practice and Clinical Reasoning I: Adult and Aging Acute and Chronic Illness
Nursing Practice and Clinical Reasoning IV: Maternity and Women’s Health Care
Nursing Practice and Clinical Reasoning III: Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
Health Assessment Theory and Clinical
Transition into the Nursing Profession
Children and Families
Clinical Requirements for Accelerated BSN Programs
The required clinical hours to become an RN are determined by your state board of nursing (BON). In general you can expect to complete about 500 hours of supervised clinical practice during your 2 year education. During this time you will be able to gain confidence in your nursing skills by providing direct care to patients in a supervised setting. This will allow you to practice in a safe manner. That way when you go out into the nursing world you will have the confidence that you can provide safe care and you will also know your limitations as you continue to learn. In your clinical setting you will be supervised by an experienced nurse.
How Much ABSN Programs Cost?
It always comes down to money. Luckily for you there are a ton of ways to pay for your nursing education. It is also worth noting that the price of doing a second degree BSN will depend on the school you attend. Private schools will almost always cost more than public ones and both offer comparative quality educations. There are also various programs listed below that can help you pay for your nursing education. Here are price examples from a public and private school:
The Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness program and Public Service Loan Forgiveness are two examples of programs that will pay for your education if you commit to working in medically underserved areas. This can help take the financial pressure out of pursuing a second bachelors degree. Some other repayment options are listed here:
Our handy state guides are designed to help you find scholarships offered in your state as well!
How Much Do Nurses With a BSN Earn?
Having your BSN will give you a lot of flexibility in the type of salary you can earn. This, along with being an overall fulfilling career will makes nursing a desirable path. Your salary will change depend on where you work. Urban locations will pay more, but your cost of living will also likely be higher. Community health centers may not pay as much as private ones, but you will also be more likely to be eligible for the loan forgiveness programs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows RNs earning a median of $66,640 annually. You can earn the most in California, Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Oregon at a salary between $80,000 to $96,000.
What are Some Specialty Areas I Could Work in with a BSN?
You will be able to work in almost any type of practice setting. Some locations may require a bit of experience first, but with your BSN you be fully prepared to gain that experience. Some areas where you may find yourself working are:
Emergency Department: As a part of a larger team you will help triage and provide care to people with medical emergencies.
Labor and Delivery: Helping care for laboring women and participating in the birth of their children can be incredibly rewarding.
Oncology: Oncology nurse care for patients with cancer before, during, and after their treatment.
Medical Surgical Floor: As a med-surg nurse you will care for patients with acute conditions or after they have had surgery.
Operating Room: As a part of the OR team you ensure patient safety and provide care for them while they are being operated on.
Trauma Nurse:You will play a vital role caring for acutely ill or severely injured patients. Often you will work with an emergency department team.
Telemetry Nurse:As a telemetry nurse you will be monitoring patients whose conditions could change quickly. this role is important for ensuring they receive care quickly.
Traveling Nurse: You will travel around the country providing care for patients in your specialty during short period of time such as 12 weeks. You will often go where you are needed most.
School Nurse:You will provide nursing care for students by administering medications and vaccines, providing first aid, and educating them on health concepts.
4 Steps To Register for the NCLEX
Be sure to talk to your school about the requirements for signing up for the NCLEX. They can help you with timing and steps. The process can take some time, so don’t wait until the last minute. Here are some important steps you need to take to register for the big day:
Check out your state’s Board of Nursing (BON) website to sign up so that you are eligible to take the NCLEX. The NCBSN website has information you need on your state’s BON.
Your NCLEX eligibility requirements can be found through your BON.
After this you should register for the test through Pearson VUE. Don’t forget to find your program code when doing this! If you’re not sure where to find it, contact your school.
A bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) is a 4-year degree designed to prepare you to work as a registered nurse (RN). During this time you will be prepared through didactic education and clinical experiences to care for patients in a variety of settings. During your training you will learn to become a safe and effective nurse by taking courses in the hard sciences, nursing theory, clinical assessment, and more. You will be taught skills that will enable you to think critically about the nursing care that you deliver to your patients. At the end of your degree you will be qualified to sit for the NCLEX exam that credentials you at the national level as an RN. With a BSN you will be highly employable at major hospitals and healthcare organizations around the country.
Why Should I Earn a BSN?
With so many pathways existing to becoming an RN it can be hard to know which route to take. If you are ready to earn your 4-year bachelor’s degree and want to work as an RN, a BSN may be the right path for you. While earning an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) was the original and most popular way to become a nurse, many healthcare organizations are shifting towards having the BSN become the baseline degree for them hiring RNs. By earning your BSN you will be a strong candidate in your applications to nursing jobs. Additionally, if you choose to move past a bachelor’s degree to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or earn your PhD, a bachelor’s is the minimum degree requirement for these programs.
Best Ranked BSN Degree Programs in Your State
One of the best measures of a nursing program’s ability to prepare its students to become a registered nurse is to look at an institution’s first-time NCLEX-RN pass rates. We went directly to each state board of nursing to find, report and rank the best Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in your state. Find a campus or online BSN degree program, see NCLEX Exam rankings by school along with tuition costs, average loan rates, and additional data points that will help you find the best RN program for your career.
To an extent, every university will have different entry requirements. Most of them will be similar to what is required by the University of Virginia:
In order to apply for BSN programs you must have a high school diploma or have completed your GED. With this you need to be able to include your GPA on your applications. Most programs will require a minimum GPA of 3.0. If you do not have this, you can take some college level courses to prove your academic ability prior to applying.
You will need gather some letters of recommendation for your application. Depending on the program you may be required to include some professional and personal recommendations. These can be obtained from teachers, employers, and/or acquaintances who can attest to your character.
All bachelor’s programs require that you submit an application along with a fee. The individual application requirements and fees will vary by university. With the application you will need to send official transcripts from your prior education.
Depending on the program an interview may be required. Don’t fret, they want you to be a fit for their program as much as you do!
What Pathways Exist for Earning My BSN?
Generally there are four ways you can earn your BSN.
High school to BSN: After finishing high school or earning your GED you can earn your BSN in about 4 years.
LPN to BSN: These programs give you credit for the nursing education you already have. LPN to BSN programs are about 2-years in length depending on the program. They are designed for people who already have some nursing experience and education at the LPN level.
RN to BSN: If you are an RN with an ADN and are hoping to advance your degree to the bachelor’s level you can complete a specially designed program for people who have already passed the NCLEX and work as RNs. An RN to BSN route will give you classes you have not had previously such as evidence based practice, additional hard science courses, ethics, and more. Learn about the differences, read RN vs BSN Degree.
Direct Entry:Direct Entry BSN programs have been developed to help meet the growing nursing demand while also helping individuals to achieve their goals of becoming nurses after they have earned their bachelor’s in another field. These programs give you credit for the bachelor’s required courses you have already done such as English, history, math requirements and more, while arming you with the additional course you need to become an RN. Depending on your background you may be required to take prerequisite courses before applying to these programs.
Online BSN Programs
With technology the world is becoming an increasingly flexible place for people seeking to advance their education. Online BSN programs can allow you to balance your personal, professional, and academic life effectively. Often these programs have online classes, assignments, and discussions. You can work with your school to organize your clinical requirements at a location and time that is convenient for you.
What Will I Study in My BSN Program?
To be eligible to sit for the NCLEX and become an RN there are certain courses that a required regardless of what school you go to. Additionally, to earn a bachelor’s degree in any field there are also certain “core courses” that you must take. These will often have nothing to do with nursing and there are only a few that you will need to do during your 4 year education. You can expect your coursework to look similar to some of those offered at Boston College:
Population Health Theory
Anatomy and Physiology
Ethics in Nursing
Principles of Evidence-Based Nursing
Pediatric Nursing Theory and Clinical
Adult Health Nursing Theory and Clinical
Maternal-Newborn Nursing Theory and Clinical
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Theory and Clinical
Health Assessment Theory and Clinical
The minimum hours of clinical training that are required will be ultimately determined by the state in which you plan to become licensed. In general, most states require around 500 hours of hands on supervised clinical care. These experiences are a time for you to combine your knowledge gained in class with the skills you have been taught to provide care to real patients in a supervised setting. This allows you to be a safe learner so that you can go out into the world and practice as a safe nurse. Your supervisor will be an experienced RN who can assist you with his/her expert clinical judgement.
How Much Will a BSN Degree Cost?
Like a bachelor’s in any field pricing can vary quite a bit depending on the school. With nursing there are many options for getting your education paid for either before, during, or after your schooling. When looking at programs you can expect private schools will cost more than public ones. Here are examples of both:
Through the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness program as well as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness you can get your student loans forgiven by working with medically underserved populations. Knowing that you have ways of paying off your degree other than just your salary can help you decide to pursue your BSN in the first place. There are additional ways that you can get your education paid for listed here:
When applying to programs check out our state guides to see if there are additional scholarships offered through your state!
How Much Do Nurses With a BSN Earn?
RNs earn respectable salaries. This is one of the many traits that make this career so desirable. What you make will depend on a few things. Your experience, work location (urban versus rural), and area of practice will all play a role. If you work in a big city you will probably make more than your friend who works in a small rural town. Community health settings will not pay as much as private practice settings but they also could make you eligible for the previously mentioned loan forgiveness plans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earn a median of $66,640 annually. The best paying states are in California, Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Oregon with salaries ranging from $80,000 to $96,000.
What are Some Specialty Areas I Could Work in with a BSN?
Having your BSN will really open the doors of nursing for you. You will be highly sought after by hospitals and recruiting agencies. With a BSN you will be able to work in almost any specialty. Some of these are listed here:
Labor and Delivery Nurse: As a labor and delivery nurse you will care for women while they are in labor and help deliver their babies.
Oncology Nurse: You will manage the care of patients with cancer, whether it be during chemo, after surgery, or after radiation.
Home Health Nurse: With this job you will go to people’s homes to make sure that they are receiving proper care whether it be for diabetes management, wound care, or medication management.
Medical Surgical Nurse: You will work in a hospital on a floor caring for patients with acute conditions or who are recovering from surgery.
Operating Room Nurse: You will be a part of the operating room staff to care for patients while they are under anesthesia during surgery.
4 Steps To Register for the NCLEX
Signing up for the NCLEX can take some time so you should prepare in advance. Work with your school to make sure that you have everything you need to register. Here are the general steps you will need to take in order to make sure you ready for test day.
You will have to go through your State Board of Nursing (BON) to sign up so that you can be eligible to sit for the NCLEX. The NCBSN website will have information on your state’s BON. NCLEX exams can be taken every week, but the registration process can take weeks. So plan ahead.
You can find NCLEX eligibility requirements through your BON.
You will then have to register through Pearson VUE for the NCLEX . You will also need a program code to do this! Check with your school if you need help with this.
Nursing is a popular career path, but not everyone has the time, flexibility, or money right after high school to get a 4 year bachelor’s degree. And associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) is a 2 year degree that you can earn after finishing high school. It provides you with the required education and clinical training to sit for the NCLEX exam and become a Registered Nurse (RN). Back when nursing programs were first developed, ADNs were the only programs available. Now we have multiple degree levels for nurses and ADN programs are often just the tip of the iceberg for many people who are starting their nursing careers.
Why Should I Get an Associate’s Degree in Nursing?
An ADN may be the right fit for you if you are looking to jump-start your career but do not have the time and/or flexibility to do a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). It is also a great next step for people currently working as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), medical assistants, or other healthcare roles. Additionally, you may find that an ADN is a good option for you if you are looking for quality nursing education but are unsure of where you want to take your career in the long term. ADN courses can often be taken at community colleges which can offer the busy adult increased flexibility.
Entrance requirements for ADN programs depend on your school, but in general you can expect similar requirements to Bay State College:
You will need a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED) to apply for ADN programs.
Filling out an application is a requirement for every ADN program. Applications commonly involve filling out demographic information, education and work background including your high school GPA, writing essays, as well as answering other questions.
Most educational programs in any field will require one or more letters of recommendation.
Paying an application fee is common and pricing can vary depending on the school
What Pathways Exist for Earning My ADN?
Earning your ADN can be done through 2 year full-time in person or online programs, or through part time programs. What you choose may depend on your personal lifestyle. Unlike some bachelors and masters in nursing programs, there are no non-traditional pathways to earning your ADN. When vetting your programs make sure that the school is accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Best Ranked ADN Programs in Your State
One of the best measures of a nursing program’s ability to prepare its students to become a registered nurse is to look at an institution’s first-time NCLEX-RN pass rates. We went directly to each state board of nursing to find, report and rank the best Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs in your state. Find a campus or online Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program, see NCLEX Exam rankings by school along with tuition costs, average loan rates, and additional data points that will help you find the best RN program for your career.
Online programs have become a popular option for adults who are seeking to advance their careers in any field. The advantages of an online program are numerous. It can allow you to attend school from the comfort of your own home and organize required clinical hours at a location near you. This can help relieve your stress of juggling your personal life commitments while being a student. You can often go at your own pace with part-time or full-time options.
What Will I Study in My ADN Program?
ADN programs will prepare you through coursework and clinical experiences to provide care to patients as an RN. While courses may vary a bit depending on the university, you can expect something similar to some of what is offered at Chamberlain University:
Anatomy and Physiology
Nursing Concepts and Patient Care
Maternal and Child Nursing
Mental Health Nursing
Nursing Care of Children
Microbiology and Chemistry
What Are the Clinical Requirements for an ADN Program?
Clinical requirements are decided by each state’s Board of Nursing (BON). Usually they require around 500 hours of hands on clinical experience to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam but it is important to check the requirements of the state you wish to practice in first. See our state guides for more information! Clinical hours provide you with the opportunity to be a safe hands on learner. This is where you get to put your skills to practice while still having a teacher near by to supervise, teach, and correct you. This helps build your confidence while also ensuring that you will be the safe and caring nurse that you are striving to be.
How Much Will an ADN Program Cost?
ADN programs typically base tuition costs on credit hours. The price of your education may depend on whether you go to a private or public university. There are so many options to pay for your nursing education. There are many scholarship opportunities for prospective nurses.
After you receive your degree there are also options to get tuition repayment. Some of these options are the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. By working in a medically underserved area you can get your loans forgiven through these two options. Managing the stress of the financial burden we all take when we enter into school can be alleviated by knowing you have options to pay it off later. The following programs are additional ways in which you can get your education paid for.
Your salary will depend on a few factors, not just your degree type. Nurses who work in community health, nursing home, elementary school settings may make less than their inpatient nursing counterparts, but they will likely also find their career just as rewarding. You can expect to make more money if you work in an urban area versus a rural one and of course your salary will increase with experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics RNs earn a median salary of $70,000. While this typically refers to nurses with a BSN, with experience and ADN nurse can earn that amount as well.
Where Can I Work with an ADN Degree?
With your ADN in nursing you will be able to work in many different fields. Below are just some of the areas or specialties where ADN RNs can work. Some of these jobs may require additional training or certifications depending on the state/organization where you work. Others just require that you be licensed as an RN.
Ambulatory care nurse: As an ambulatory care nurse you will care for patients in an outpatient setting. This can be with a variety of populations such as adults, obstetrical patients, or pediatrics.
Medical-surgical nurse: You will work inpatient in a hospital assessing, evaluating, and providing interventions for patients with acute illnesses and/or recent surgeries.
Community health nurse: You will work in the community to improve health through providing education, health screens, immunizations, and more.
School nurse: You will work as a part of a school or university to care for students and manage minor illnesses, injuries, medications, and more.
Home health care nurse: You will visit patients in their home to help them manage their conditions by administering medication, providing wound care, educating them and more.
Emergency nurse: As a part of the emergency department team you will help triage, assess, monitor, and care for patients with medical emergencies.
Hospice nurse: As a hospice nurse you will work in a hospice facility or patient homes to manage their medication and comfort as they move towards the end of life.
4 Step To Register for the NCLEX
Registering for the NCLEX is a process, and your school should actively help you with this. There are a few different steps you need to take so make sure you know when you would like to take the NCLEX, and plan ahead.
Sign up or register through your State Board of Nursing (BON). This is so that you can be eligible to sit for the NCLEX. You can find information to contact your state BON through the NCBSN website. The actual exams are offered weekly, but registering through your BON can take weeks so don’t save it for the last minute.
Eligibility requirements to sit for the NCLEX are determined by your state’s BON, so be sure to check with them.
Next you need to register for the NCLEX through Pearson VUE. Don’t forget to look up your program code! Your school can help you with this if you have trouble.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree prepares the nurse to be a leader in healthcare and to integrate evidence-based practice into nursing care. A DNP differs from a PhD in that it is a doctorate that is focused on clinical practice whereas a PhD is focused on research. A DNP program will focus more on clinical practice and less on theory and research when compared to a PhD program. Your coursework will prepare you to care for patients at the advanced level, and you will also take courses in systems leadership, quality improvement, and other areas that will prepare you to be a leader.
DNP programs are relatively new. In 2004 schools affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) decided that a doctorate should be required for people who wish to become an APRN. While some NP programs have made this change, certifying bodies do not require a DNP degree for people to become Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNPs). At this time master’s educated NPs are still able to become certified and licensed to practice.
Why Should I Earn a Doctor in Nursing Practice?
Getting your DNP will not only enable you to provide advanced clinical care to patients in a variety of settings, but will also prepare you to be a leader and innovator in healthcare. While master’s prepared Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are still able to get certified and licensed, the DNP degree has been recommended as the terminal degree for APRNs. It is likely that this will become more certain in the future. By getting your DNP you will already be prepared for this transition. If you are seeking a terminal degree in nursing but want to focus on clinical care rather than research, the DNP is for you.
Entrance Requirements for DNP Programs
Entrance requirements may vary a little by university. In general, you can expect entrance requirements similar to what Duke University requires:
GRE: You must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and submit scores to your potential schools.
Complete pre-requisites: You may need to take certain pre-requisites such as biology, statistics, and chemistry depending on what you majored in during your bachelors.
GPA: Some programs will require that you have a GPA above a 3.0 from your post-secondary education.
Letters of reference: Most DNP programs will require 1 or more letters of reference.
Submit applications: Each school you apply to will have its own application that you need to complete. You will have to answer basic questions about yourself, write 1 or more essays and/or a personal statement, and submit materials such as past transcripts. You will likely also need to pay a processing fee.
Interview: Some DNP programs will interview applicants prior to making admission decisions.
What Pathways Exist for Earning My Doctor in Nursing Practice?
There are multiple ways to become a DNP prepared nurse depending on your educational and professional background. Even if you are not a nurse or do not have your BSN you can earn your DNP.
RN to DNP: As an ADN prepared RN you can apply for DNP programs that will provide you with the education and training to earn both your BSN and DNP.
BSN to DNP: If you have your BSN you can earn your DNP in about 4 years.
Bachelors to DNP: A Direct Entry DNP program enables you to earn your DNP even if you have a bachelors in something other than nursing. During a Direct Entry program, you will be trained first as a nurse and then will enter the DNP program. You will likely have to have taken courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry and more prior to applying. A Direct Entry DNP program will take you about 4 to 5 years to complete.
MSN to DNP: A DNP program will take about 2 to 3 years if you already have your master’s in nursing.
Online DNP Programs
In an effort to make higher education more accessible for the busy adult online programs have become popular in many professions. Nursing education has jumped on board and offers online programs to people interested in earning their DNP. These programs are offered by universities accredited by the ACEN or CCNE. Online programs enable you to complete your assignments and class discussions in an online format. Online classes offer more flexibility for the busy student. Your school can also help you organize clinical experiences in a location convenient for you and with preceptors who work within your chosen population and specialty.
What DNP Specializations Are Available?
Nurse Practitioner (NP): As an NP you will provide direct clinical care including assessing, diagnosing, treating, and following up with patients. You will focus in one of the following populations:
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): As a CNS you will provide specialized nursing care to patients that may include diagnosing and prescribing medication depending on where you work. See our CNS guide for more details.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): You will provide comprehensive care to women throughout their lifespan with the ability to prescribe medication in all 50 states.
What Will I Study in My DNP Program?
DNP program curriculums can vary by university and what type of APRN you decide to become. There are certain required courses that will be the same across all DNP programs, and others will be specific to your specialty or university. You can expect to take some of the following courses that are offered at Vanderbilt University regardless of your school or specialty:
Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
Ethics in Nursing
Advanced Nursing Practice
DNP Clinical Requirements
Structured and supervised clinical experiences during your DNP education are important in making sure that you are being properly trained and can safely provide patient care when you go into practice. Hours can vary depending on your university, but most BSN to DNP programs require 1000 hours of clinical care. If you are not yet an RN, you will have more clinical hours to complete. Usually about 500 to 600 of these hours are required for certification depending on what type of APRN you become. The remaining clinical hours are required for you to earn your DNP. Your clinical experience will be hands on and in a setting that will prepare you for your population focus and specialty. You will be supervised by an APRN in your chosen field who will train you and help you master your clinical skills in a safe setting. This will enable you to enter practice as a safe provider and qualified learner.
How Much Will a DNP Degree Cost?
DNP program costs are usually based per credit hour. Price will vary depending on whether or not you are attending a private university. Additionally, there are often scholarship opportunities and grants that students can receive. If you take out loans to fund your education, there may be opportunities in your future to get these paid for. The following two universities provide good examples of what a private and state DNP program might cost assuming that you take 15 credits per semester:
Loan forgiveness opportunities such as the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program can be incentives to get nurses to work in medically underserved areas. It can also help people take on the initial cost of an advanced degree in nursing by knowing that they have additional options to help pay it back later. Below are some other ways that you can help pay for your DNP education costs:
Each state may also have their own way of helping you pay off your loans.
How Much Do Nurses With a DNP Earn?
Like any profession your salary will vary depending on your specific field, the location where you work, and your experience. DNP educated APRNs can expect to make about the same as master’s educated APRNs. In some cases, you may make about $10,000 more annually than a master’s educated APRN within your specialty and with the same level of experience, but a higher salary is not guaranteed with a DNP degree. As with master’s educated APRNs you will have the highest salary if you are a CRNA. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics CRNAs make an average salary of $169,450. Other APRN roles have high salary prospects as well. CNMs make an average of $99,770 per year, and NPs make an average of $100,900 annually. CNS salary can vary broadly at anywhere from $68,000 to $101,000. If you work in an urban area you will likely have a higher salary than if you worked in a rural one, and as you gain experience you can begin to negotiate a higher salary.