Nursing is a lucrative and high demand healthcare field, with almost 3,000,000 registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. The nursing profession is growing at a rate of 15%, more than double the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With its higher-than-average population of senior citizens, Arizona in particular suffers from an acute shortage of nurses. The state currently provides only 681 RNs for every 100,000 residents, far below the national mean of 825. More than half of Arizonans cannot access quality healthcare, so nurses play a significant role in health management. Banner Health, the state’s largest employer, maintains its headquarters in Phoenix. Nursing schools in Arizona partner with Banner and other large hospitals for clinical rotations.
The average American RN earns more than $68,000 per year, but according to Payscale, nurses in Phoenix receive 6% higher salaries. Nursing is an attractive profession for Arizonans thanks to the combination of the sheer volume of opportunity, need for nurses, and high salaries in the field. And since nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and other specialists can earn even higher salaries than a standard RN, the field is particularly poised for career advancement through an online nursing degree.
How to Become a Nurse in Arizona
The first step towards becoming a nurse in Arizona is earning an on-campus or online nursing degree from an accredited nursing college in Arizona or a cooperating state. Earning an online nursing degree is only the first step, however. Future nurses must also pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which costs $300, and clear a criminal background check, which costs $50. From registering for the exam to receiving the license in the mail typically takes three to five months, according to the state board.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
Becoming a registered nurse requires a candidate to earn an on-campus or online nursing degree. At a minimum, an associate degree can serve as academic preparation. Many nurses now choose to start their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree, however, through an online BSN program in Arizona. Students who plan to advance in the field by becoming family nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, or college-level nursing instructors then pursue a master’s degree or even a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP). Starting with a bachelor’s in nursing is logical for these ambitious professionals since it offers an in-depth curriculum that serves as a head start for future graduate study.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
Earning an online nursing degree makes sense for busy professionals, as it allows them to study when it’s convenient for them. Because most entry-level nursing programs in Arizona require rounds of clinical practice, these degrees are often not available in a fully online format. Most associate degree and bachelor’s degree applicants must pass a nursing admissions test in addition to the general admission requirements at nursing schools in Arizona. Associate degrees take one to two years to complete, and bachelor’s degrees are typically four years long. Students in online nursing programs in Arizona complete science prerequisites in biology, chemistry, and anatomy, in addition to general education courses and specialty nursing classes.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Graduates of nursing schools in Arizona must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to earn a license as a registered nurse. To sit for the exam, students pay a $300 fee. Nursing degree programs prepare students to answer the NCLEX-RN’s 75-265 questions in the six hours allotted. Successful candidates often study daily for two months prior to taking the test. Upon graduating from an approved program, passing the NCLEX-RN, and clearing the criminal background check, candidates receive their license from the Arizona State Board of Nursing. While the state board and individual nursing schools in Arizona cannot guarantee that an applicant will receive a position, this license is required before a nurse can apply for an RN position in the state.
Nursing Licensure in Arizona
To become a registered nurse in Arizona, a candidate must first pass the NCLEX-RN examination. This exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of entry-level nursing practices. To take the NCLEX-RN, a student must have completed an approved nursing program at a college or university. At Arizona nursing schools, these approved programs include science courses, nursing practice classes, and clinical components. Students at nursing schools in Arizona can choose to become a nurse through an associate or bachelor’s program. Associate-level online nursing degrees require approximately two years to complete, while bachelor’s degrees take around four years. Bachelor’s-level online nursing degrees are the more in-depth study option and often result in more career opportunities.
The Arizona State Board of Nursing (AZBN) licenses Arizona’s nurses. This board authorizes a graduate from a nursing school in Arizona to take the NCLEX-RN exam. It does not, however, provide an official study guide. Once a student completes the required academic program, he or she applies to AZBN for permission to take the NCLEX-RN. Once the student passes the NCLEX-RN exam, he or she must clear a criminal background check. Felony convictions and pending criminal charges may prohibit some applicants from becoming nurses. After clearing each requirement, successful candidates receive a nursing license in the mail from AZBN.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Arizona
Application Fee $300
Background Check $50
Career Outlook for Nurses in Arizona
According to the Arizona State Board of Nursing, Arizona employs more than 86,830 registered nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Arizona’s Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area is the nation’s eighth largest metro center of nurses. Despite its already large nursing population, Arizona projects it will need 5.2% more nurses in 2018 and 22.2% more nurses in 2024 than it has today. The U.S. projects nursing population growth of 16% by 2024, meaning Arizona leads a national trend.
Due to the size of its healthcare industry, Arizona needs nurses in a variety of subfields. Nurse anesthetists, geriatric nurses, orthopedic nurses, and nursing researchers may find their specialized skills in high demand thanks to Arizona’s larger-than-average senior citizen population. Students at nursing schools in Arizona interested in healthcare for Latino or Native American populations can explore their professional interests among the state’s diverse population.
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Biggest Hospitals in Arizona
About 16.4% of Arizona’s population is over age 65, and that percentage is rising. Given the state’s aging population, it’s no surprise that healthcare is one of Arizona’s largest and fastest-growing industries. Nurses in Arizona receive an annual salary above the national average. They can also pursue career paths like nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant thanks to the state’s many colleges and universities. Students at nursing schools in Arizona can apply to become fellows or interns at hospitals across the state.
- Maricopa Integrated Health System: Providing quality healthcare for the area for over 140 years, MIHS serves more than 16,500 inpatients and 432,600 outpatients each year. Over 3,500 medical professionals staff the MIHS hospital, outpatient medical center, two behavioral centers, and 13 family health centers. The only public healthcare system in Arizona, MIHS is also home to the state’s only burn center.
- Banner Health: Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Banner Health stretches across six western states where it operates 28 hospitals. With 50,000 staff members, Banner Health is Arizona’s largest employer. Thanks to its size, Banner offers a variety of occupational tracks and diverse locations for employment. Its employees and leaders value making a difference in their patients’ lives.
Additional Nursing Resources in Arizona
Arizona Nurses Association
The Arizona Nurses Association (AZNA) advances good health and promotes the nursing profession throughout Arizona. This coalition of nurses engages in public policy advocation, raises money for nursing scholarships, and hosts regular events for nurses. Online nursing degree students who join receive an informational kit and access to the online AZNA community.
Arizona Chapter of NAPNAP
The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) has an active Arizona chapter that hosts an annual conference. Members can take advantage of educational opportunities and engage in legislative advocacy. NAPNAP’s Arizona chapter offers membership to a variety of practitioners, including pediatric nurse practitioner students, new graduates, and retirees.
Student Nurses Association of Arizona (SNAAz)
This Arizona student nursing organization offers awards, scholarships, an annual convention, and volunteer opportunities. Students in any academic program preparing them for registered nurse licensure can join SNAAz. Members receive the association’s free magazine and can network with other student nurses from around the state and the country.
School Nurses Organization of Arizona
The School Nurses Organization of Arizona (SNOA) represents the interests of school nurses and promotes good health among the state’s youth. SNOA offers a variety of eLearning options for both personal interest and continuing education. It also provides members with access to publications, resources, conventions, and advocacy opportunities.
Arizona Association of Nurse Anesthetists
This organization provides a chance for Arizona’s nurse anesthetists to interact with one another, continuing education that advances the practice of anesthesia, and advocacy for the field. Members of the group also get to take advantage of several conferences throughout the year.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Arizona
The following list includes all accredited online nursing degrees from nursing schools in Arizona. These degrees include the ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP. Online RN programs in Arizona, including associate programs, usually require some on-campus component since these online nursing degrees lead to initial nursing licensure. Online RN-to-BSN programs in Arizona advance the career of a seasoned nursing professional while online MSN programs in Arizona help nurses specialize in a particular area, such as neonatal, geriatric, or psychiatric care.