Nursing is a rewarding career for those who are passionate about helping others improve their quality of life. Colorado is a particularly exciting place to study and practice nursing. With abundant sunshine and easy access to nature, the state has long emphasized physical and emotional wellness and attracts individuals seeking healthy lifestyles. Many of its largest employers are healthcare organizations and medical research facilities, such as the University of Colorado’s Anschutz campus in Aurora and the HealthOne Corporation’s hospitals throughout the Denver area.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of nursing is growing quickly; the job growth rate is 15% for registered nurses and 31% for nurse practitioners, both of which are higher than the national average. In fact, the BLS reports that registered nurses, home and personal care aides, and nursing assistants are some of the fastest-growing professions in the country. Students who earn a degree at one of the many nursing schools in Colorado enter a growing profession in a state that values and promotes health.
How to Become a Nurse in Colorado
The process for becoming a nurse in Colorado is relatively standardized. However, details such as licensing costs and procedures vary depending on your career goals, your program, and whether you take the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN. Below is further information about the process of becoming a nurse in Colorado, including basic information regarding the nursing licensing exam and details about different nursing degrees.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
While an associate degree in nursing prepares students for certain entry-level positions, a bachelor’s of science in nursing is the minimum degree required to practice nursing across all healthcare professions. In Colorado, nurse practitioners, midwives, anesthetists, and specialists are required to have a master’s degree. Those interested in pursuing an advanced or specialized nursing position, such as a neonatal or psychiatric nurse, should consider earning a master’s of science in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice, which is the highest degree in the nursing field. Those interested in teaching nursing will need at least an MSN degree, although most universities require a doctoral degree.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
When preparing to earn a nursing degree, first decide whether an on-campus or online nursing degree program best fits your learning style and academic needs. Prerequisites depend on the specific degree. For a BSN, prerequisites typically include introductory courses in human anatomy, biology, nutrition, and physiology. Additionally, most nursing programs require clinical hours, which provide critical hands-on experience. Many programs also offer optional internships and fellowships. An ADN program typically takes two years to complete; BSN programs take four years; and RN to BSN programs take three years.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Generally, candidates should begin studying for the NCLEX at least two to three months before taking the exam. The NCLEX costs $200, plus additional application and endorsements fees that are specific to each state. Students can take up to six hours to complete the NCLEX-RN and up to five hours to complete the NCLEX-PN. Through hands-on training and extensive coursework, nursing degree programs prepare students to take the licensing exam.
Earning a nursing license does not guarantee a nursing job. The length of time required to find a job will depend on your level of experience, career goals, and location, along with the connections you made during your nursing degree program.
Nursing Licensure in Alaska
Nursing licenses in Colorado are offered through the Colorado Board of Nursing. All first-time candidates must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is a nationwide requirement for nursing. Nurses who are licensed in other states can earn a nursing license in Colorado through endorsement, which allows them to forgo the NCLEX and begin seeing patients in the state as soon as they are approved by the nursing board. The NCLEX is available in two types: the NCLEX-RN, which qualifies individuals to become registered nurses, and the NCLEX-PN, which qualifies individuals to become practical nurses. To take the NCLEX-PN, candidates must have a diploma in licensed practical nursing or in licensed vocational nursing. To take the NCLEX-RN exam, candidates must have an ADN or BSN.
Nursing licenses issued in Colorado are compact licenses, which means that the license qualifies the holder to practice nursing in states that have entered into the interstate compact, including Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nebraska. Colorado does not require nurses to complete continuing education to maintain their licenses.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Colorado
App Fee $88
Endorsement Fee $43
Career Outlook for Nurses in Colorado
As Colorado’s economy thrives and its population grow, the healthcare and social services industry remains one of the largest in the state, second only to the retail trade. According to the Colorado Nursing Center, one out of nine Colorado residents works in healthcare, and the industry employs about 250,000 people. The BLS reports that 47,590 of these professionals are registered nurses, 19,230 are nursing assistants, and 23,640 are personal care aides. The rate of job growth for registered nurses in Colorado is 33%.
In particular, the field of gerontological nursing is growing quickly in Colorado. Because Americans in general are enjoying longer lives than ever before, and because Colorado is a favorable place for retired and older individuals, the state has plenty of opportunities for personal care aides and gerontological nurses. Due to its outdoor culture, Colorado is also an ideal state to practice sports medicine nursing.
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Biggest Hospitals in Colorado
When deciding where to pursue an online nursing degree in Colorado, consider the locations of primary hospitals and other medical organizations. Forming connections with large hospitals through clinical hours, internships, and fellowships creates job opportunities after graduation. The state’s large hospital networks are often connected to the nursing schools in Colorado. Two of the state’s major hospitals are highlighted below.
- Denver Health Medical Center: Founded in 1860, this hospital is part of the greater Denver Health network and is one of Colorado’s busiest hospitals, serving more than 25,000 patients per year. Along with serving the general population, the center focuses on the needs of low-income communities, pregnant teens, and homeless individuals.
- Children’s Hospital Colorado: With a main campus in Aurora and several other campuses across the state, this hospital employs more than 3,00 pediatric specialists and more than 5,000 full-time employees. The hospital partners with more than 400 outreach clinics and healthcare organizations.
Additional Nursing Resources in Colorado
Colorado Board of Nursing
This organization, part of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, oversees nursing licenses and certifications in the state. The website provides resources for nursing professionals, including license applications and information, laws and policies for various areas of nursing, opportunities to file complaints, and resources for finding nursing schools in Colorado.
Colorado Nurses Association
This professional organization represents all of Colorado’s registered nurses. The association focuses on improved safety, access to care, and general workplace quality for nursing professionals.
Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence
This organization unites nurses and other healthcare workers across the state; provides nursing education, coaching, and leadership development; and promotes better workplace conditions for nurses. The center also connects nurses across regions and specialties, including rural nurses and public and community health nurses.
Colorado Public Health Nursing Leaders
This branch of the Public Health Alliance of Colorado comprises a group of nursing directors from across the state who meet regularly to share information and strengthen local nursing practices.
Colorado Student Nurses Association
This organization provides students enrolled in nursing schools in Colorado with professional resources, such as information about professional opportunities and access to reduced malpractice insurance and student health insurance. The organization holds an annual conference and offers reduced registration fees to its members.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Colorado
The following database includes all accredited ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP online nursing schools in Colorado. Each online nursing degree varies in regards to its format, course offerings, specializations, and professional opportunities. This database will help you find a program that fits your unique career goals.