Where do you want to practice nursing?
MOST POPULAR STATES FOR NURSES
Every state has its own set of nursing certifications that nurses can apply for after they have completed the right amount of nursing education and have passed the correct nursing certification exam. The above map will help you determine what certifications are available to nurses in your state, how much these certifications cost, how frequently nursing certifications must be renewed, and if there are any renewal education and fee requirements. No matter what state, Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses need to keep an active LPN or RN certification. Advanced practice nurses must have an active RN license in addition to being certified within their specialty through the specialty organization as well as the state.
Nursing Licensure Compact
Although each state has its own certification process, it is getting easier for nurses to transfer active licenses to other states through the Nursing Licensure Compact. Twenty-five states now provide nurses with a multistate license that transfers across the borders of the participating states. Learn more about the compact here.
NURSING CAREER PATHS
Whether you are just out of high school and want to assist patients as a Certified Nurse Aide or are looking to get an advanced degree in order to become a Nurse Practitioner and open your own practice, there are careers in nursing for people of all ages and experience levels. By learning more about the different types of nurses, you can figure out what career path is right for you, as well as the education you will need to reach future career goals. Nursing is a rewarding career with plenty growth, and there has never been a better time to become a nurse.
- Education: None, though most CNAs have completed high school.
- Clinical Hours: While there is no formal clinical component to CNA training, it is required that CNAs complete a training program, which may be found at a hospital, community college, or high school.
- Main Duties: Assist patients with basic care including bathing, transporting, and dressing patients as well as checking vital signs and recording health concerns.
- Autonomy: CNAs are supervised by LPNs or RNs.
- Average Salary: $25,090
- Education: A high school diploma is required, and a one-year certificate program must be completed. LPNs must also take the NCLEX exam.
- Clinical Hours: Supervised clinical experience is included in the one-year certificate program.
- Main Duties: Basic patient care such as bandage changing, keeping patient health records, and reporting patient health to registered nurses or doctors. Some states allow LPNs to insert IVs, but others do not.
- Autonomy: LPNs are often supervised by RNs, though in some states they may be supervised by more experienced LPNs.
- Average Salary: $42,490
- Education: An associate or bachelor’s degree is required. Licensure and the completion of the NCLEX exam are also required.
- Clinical Hours: Programs will have a clinical component, though the amount of clinical hours will vary.
- Main Duties: Record patient health, treat, medicate, and test patients, create care plans, instruct patients and families on how to care for illness or injury, and consult with doctors. Many RNs work within a specific population, such as in neonatal care or addiction settings.
- Autonomy: RNs work with physicians, and may have autonomy in overseeing other RNs, LPNs, and CNAs.
- Average Salary: $66,640
- Education: A master’s degree and RN experience are required. Passing an exam in a specialty is also required.
- Clinical Hours: Varies by specialty, but around 500 to 600 clinical hours are required.
- Main Duties: Provide primary care, promote preventive health, and treat patient illness and injury.
- Autonomy: In many states, NPs can open their own practices, prescribe medications, and order lab tests.
- Average Salary: $95,350
- Education: A master’s degree and at least one year of RN experience are required. Passing a specialty specific exam is also required for certification.
- Clinical Hours: 500 or more clinical hours are required in a CNS master’s program. These hours must be specific to the nurse’s desired specialty. Some specialties require more hours.
- Main Duties: Caring for patients in a specific population, working with other nurses to improve the way care is delivered within a setting, leading and educating other nurses, research, and advocacy.
- Autonomy: CNSs often serve as leaders, directing and educating other nurses, and are integral in developing change in their organizations. A CNS can write prescriptions in some states.
- Average Salary: $75,430
- Education: A master’s degree and RN experience are required. Passing an exam is also required.
- Clinical Hours: Though there is no clinical hour requirement from the certification board, many CNM programs will have a clinical hour requirement comparable to an NP program.
- Main Duties: Family planning, gynecological care, delivering babies, and providing primary care.
- Autonomy: CNMs may have their own private practice in some states and may also be able to write prescriptions and order tests.
- Average Salary: $96,970
- Education: A master’s degree and RN experience are required. Passing an exam is also required.
- Clinical Hours: Over 2,500 hours and the administering of over 800 anesthetics are required.
- Main Duties: Caring for surgical patients through administering anesthesia and providing related care.
- Autonomy: CRNAs work with a team of people who are caring for their patients. Some states allow them to administer anesthesia without physician supervision, but this varies from state to state.
- Average Salary: $153,780
THE NURSING SHORTAGE AND THE GROWING DEMAND FOR NURSES
Growing Demand for Nurses 2014-2024
Bar chart depicting percent growth in demand for various nursing professions between 2014-2024. Certified Nursing Assistant: 18%; Licensed Practical Nurse: 16%; Registered Nurse: 16%; Clinical Nurse Specialist: 17%; Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: 19%; Nurse Educator: 19% Certified Nurse Midwife: 25%; Nurse Practitioner: 35%. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Demand for nurses of every kind is more than twice as high than average job growth for even the slowest growing areas of nursing. While the need for health care professionals is growing overall, there is an urgent need for professionals who can provide primary care to areas that are in a shortage, which is why advanced practice demand is so high. An increase in age and chronic disease among Americans means there is a need for nurses of all kinds. Here is a look into some of the reasons why there is such a high need for nurses and why it’s a great time to become a nurse.
An Aging Population
The large baby boomer generation now consists of people in their early 50s to late 60s. The size of this generation along with improvements in life expectancy means that soon, a much larger portion of Americans will be older than 65 than ever before (over 20 percent projected in 2030 compared to 13 percent in 2010). With age comes increased medical needs and heightened rates of chronic disease. The National Council on Aging says that over 80 percent of older adults have a chronic condition. But only 12 percent have just one; the other 68 percent have two or more. All of those chronic diseases need to be treated with the help of nurses.
An Aging Nursing Workforce
Some of those aging Americans are nurses themselves, in fact half a million of the current 2.75 million will no longer be nurses by 2022, due to retirement or other reasons. These nurses need to be replaced so that hospitals and other health care facilities can continue to function at their usual capacity. There is also a general need for an overall increase in the nursing population.
The Affordable Care Act
The first five years of the Affordable Care Act saw an increase in health care coverage of 16.4 million previously uninsured people. Naturally, just having coverage isn’t enough to get these people the health care they need, there also needs to be enough healthcare employees to provide all of this newly insured care. With the increase in patients comes an increase in demand for health care professionals of all kinds, which includes nursing assistants, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and every other nurse there is.
However, it should also be noted that most of the newly insured are young people without the health problems of aging generations. Many of these young people are less in need of health care services and do not contribute to the increased need for nurses, though some of them do need treatment for chronic disease and other illnesses and injuries.
HPSAs, the Primary Care Shortage, and Growing Autonomy
Nurses aren’t just needed to ease the nursing shortage, advanced practice nurses are also needed to aid in the shortage of primary care doctors. Since there are many health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) in the United States, there is a struggle to ensure that there is accessible primary care for everyone. With there not being enough primary care doctors, along with the amount of time and training it takes to get new doctors into the workforce, there is a dire need for primary care, and nurse practitioners can help fill that void. In many states, nurse practitioners can have their own private practice and prescribe medicine, allowing them to provide patients with many of the same services that primary care doctors provide. As the need for primary care grows, some of the states with more regulations for advanced practice nurses will probably need to give them more autonomy so that they can provide the level of primary care they have been trained to provide and help with shortages.
By 2022, there will be a shortage of over a million registered nurses, with the worst of the shortages being in the south and west. By 2020, there will be a shortage of almost 250,000 physicians. Since there is more growth among the nurse practitioner workforce than the primary care physician workforce, nurse practitioners, along with physician assistants will be depended on to help fill the gap. In order to make this possible, there is also a huge need for nurse educators, who need a doctoral degree, so that there is the capacity to train more nurses and further increase the nursing workforce.
NURSING: URBAN VS RURAL
Depending on where they work, the needs and resources of various communities affect the day-to-day role of nurses. Nurses should consider what they are looking for in their career to determine whether a rural or urban setting is best for them. A rural setting may provide advantages such as greater autonomy and the ability to provide health care where it is limited, while an urban setting may allow more specialization and technology.
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NURSING: EDUCATION AND TESTING
In order to start a career in nursing at any level, some form of training must be completed in order to prepare for the role. Additionally, many roles within nursing require the passing of an examination in order to become certified. Here is some information about the training and testing that can be expected for most nursing certifications. Look at Nursing License Map’s career pages for more specific information on education paths for specific nursing roles.
Certified Nursing Assistant Education
In the majority of states, nursing assistants are unlicensed professionals. There are a couple of states however, that have a special license for CNAs that must be renewed. Nursing Assistant education consists of a training program at a high school, college, or hospital. There is no degree involved, but the program prepares students to take a competency exam so that they can be entered into the state registry. After the passing of this exam, there is some on the job training, after which the CNA is fully trained.
Licensed Practical Nurse Education
Licensed Practical Nurses are required to complete a one year non-degree education program. at a high school, college, or hospital. These programs have a clinical experience component in addition to classroom learning. LPNs must pass the NCLEX-PN examination in order to obtain licensure. LPNs can also gain expertise and earn certificates in specific areas of nursing.
Registered Nurse Education
An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing is required for becoming a registered nurse, though many employers may only seek candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree. There is also the option of earning a non-degree diploma in lieu of a degree. No matter which path is chosen, there is a clinical component to the education. Nursing students must pass the NCLEX-RN in order to become certified as registered nurses. It is also important to note that RNs with bachelor’s degrees have more ability to be leaders and researchers.
Advanced Practice Nurse Education
All nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists must be registered nurses with some nursing experience before applying to a master’s program, which is required for all advanced nursing degrees. There are many programs for registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree, as well as programs for nurses with an associate’s degree that combine a bachelor’s and master’s program into one. Upon the completion of a program, students must take a test related to the advanced specialty they wish to practice in order to become certified.
MORE ABOUT NURSING LICENSE MAP
Nursing License Map is a comprehensive resource for nursing licensure information. It provides state-specific information on how to become a nurse, nurse salaries, nursing credentials, nurse certification tests, and nursing compact agreements. Our aim is to provide all the information necessary to become a nurse no matter where you live.