Nursing schools in Delaware prepare students for a variety of careers in healthcare. Some graduates work in specialized areas, such as patient addiction, genetic disorders, rehabilitation treatment, or public health education. Others work closely with patients to assess their health conditions and administer treatment. In hospital settings, nurses assist doctors in medical procedures.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the nursing field to grow 15% through 2026. Delaware ranks in the top three states for the highest number of employed registered nurses (RNs) and offers RNs the highest pay in the country. You can complete an online BSN, MSN, or RN-to-BSN program in Delaware to enhance your job prospects in the healthcare field.
How to Become a Nurse in Delaware
Most professionals seeking a career in nursing undergo similar training to meet industry standards. Some details regarding training, job placement, and advancement vary by state. Delaware requires a fee for licensure. Additional fees depend on the type of licensure and degree held by the applicant. While pursuing your online nursing degree, teachers and advisers can help you meet your state's requirements.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
As with other states, BSN programs at nursing schools in Delaware are preparatory degrees for students aiming to pursue a master’s degree (MSN). Those who plan to teach at the college or university level need a doctoral degree in nursing (DNP).
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Choosing an online nursing degree can save time and money. Enrolling in nursing school online in Delaware allows for flexible scheduling. Typically, prerequisite coursework in microbiology, chemistry, and statistics is required for acceptance.
Some nursing schools in Delaware offer optional internships to help students transition from the online classroom to hands-on experience. In-person clinical rotations are required to earn an online nursing degree. Online RN programs in Delaware usually require two-three years of full-time study. Some online nursing colleges in Delaware offer an RN-to-BSN degree, which helps students earn a bachelor’s degree after they obtain licensure.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
While the coursework to earn an online nursing degree constitutes a large part of exam preparation, students can also prepare by becoming familiar with the test format and procedures. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing offers videos and resources to prepare students for licensure exams. Attending a nursing school in Delaware and obtaining licensure does not guarantee employment, but healthcare professionals with these credentials are strong candidates for job opportunities.
Nursing Licensure in Delaware
Students pursuing an online nursing degree in any state, including degrees from nursing schools in Delaware, must pass the NCLEX-RN to earn a nursing license. All who take this pass-fail exam are tested on the same content and graded by identical evaluation standards. To take the exam, students must have graduated from an approved pre-licensure RN or LPN/LVN nursing education program.
Although licenses are associated with one state, a licensed nurse in good standing may obtain licensure in another state without retaking the exam. Nurses who have been inactive in one state and wish to practice in another state may be required to take refresher courses. Follow all state guidelines while preparing for the exam; Delaware’s Board of Nursing offers instructions for those attending online nursing schools in Delaware. Visit nursing.org for information regarding licensure preparation.
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State Requirements by Nursing Type
Delaware offers two pathways for permanent RN licensure. The NCLEX-RN is suitable for candidates without a license and with a permanent Delaware address The RN endorsement is for candidates with an RN license from a state other than Delaware. Delaware issues temporary RN permits to candidates who received job offers but plan to begin work before they can take the NCLEX-RN or obtain an RN endorsement.
To qualify for the NCLEX-RN, candidates must submit transcripts listing their degree and graduation date. The Delaware Board of Nursing then determines if the candidate's program meets state criteria, which includes at least 400 hours of clinical experience for RNs. Those who attend college outside the U.S. must send a copy of their CGFNS letter. Candidates must apply for the NCLEX-RN within five years of graduation.
Candidates must submit an application for RN licensure to the Delaware Board of Nursing. If they meet the board's eligibility criteria, they may register for the NCLEX-RN through Pearson Vue. Registering for the exam costs $200, with a $150 surcharge for international students. The exam is divided into four main categories and eight subcategories. Exam takers have six hours to complete the exam. They must correctly answer at least 75 questions to earn a passing score.
Candidates for RN endorsement typically must submit their application within two years of graduating. Alternatively, they can provide proof of at least 1,000 practice hours in the last five years or at least 400 practice hours in the previous two years. Those who complete an authorized refresher course are also eligible. RNs with a lapsed Delaware RN license are not eligible for endorsement and should apply for reinstatement instead.
Candidates seeking a temporary RN permit and planning to become licensed through the NCLEX-RN must submit a college transcript, copy of their job offer letter, and criminal history report through the State of Delaware and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those seeking a temporary permit who plan to obtain an endorsement must also submit a job offer letter and criminal history, along with a nursing reference form. Temporary permits are valid for up to 90 days.
RN candidates must pay a $156 processing fee for their licensure application. Depending on when they are issued, Delaware RN licenses expire on February 28, May 31, or September 30 in odd-numbered years. To renew their license, candidates must complete at least 1,000 practice hours every five years or 400 practice hours every two years. At least 30 hours of continuing education are also required after the first renewal.
The Delaware Division of Health Care Quality oversees the training, testing, and registration of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) throughout the state. The Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection (DLTCRP) must approve CNA training programs. Private CNA training programs must earn a certificate of approval as a private business and trade school through the Delaware Department of Education. A list of DLTCRP-approved CNA training programs in Delaware is available online.
CNA candidates seeking training programs must submit an application that defines the type and location of training sessions, along with descriptions of the program and its curriculum. Candidates should submit their application at least 90 days before beginning their training.
After CNA training, candidates must submit an examination application. Candidates who completed the approved training program within the last 24 months are eligible to take the exam. Other qualifying groups include nursing students who completed at least 75 hours of course-based clinical instruction, nurse's aides whose CNA status lapsed, and those with out-of-state certification. RNs and LPNs who completed their program more than two years earlier are also eligible.
CNA candidates may take the exam at their facility of employment or at one of three regional testing sites. The exam has two components. The critical skills component consists of 20 competencies, such as providing specific types of care and transferring patients to another location. The written or oral component is divided into five categories, such as promotion of safety and the role of a nurse aide. Candidates are given 90 minutes to answer 60 questions. Candidates are given three attempts to pass both components.
The CNA certification is valid for two years. To renew their certification, candidates must complete 64 hours of work and 24 hours of continuing education (CE). CE requirements include six hours of dementia training and two hours of patient abuse prevention.
In Delaware, the licensing requirements for LPNs are similar to those for RNs, with some minor variations.
LPNs may become licensed through the NCLEX-PN if they have a fixed Delaware address and do not have a license. Alternatively, they may receive an LPN endorsement if they are licensed in other states or U.S. territories. A temporary LPN permit option is open to candidates, as well.
Those who wish to sit for the NCLEX-PN must provide an official transcript for their training program that includes the degree and graduation date. This program must include at least 200 clinical experience hours. LPN candidates are required to sit for the NCLEX-PN within five years of completing their training.
The NCLEX-PN consists of up to 205 questions divided into four categories and eight subcategories. Exam-takers must answer at least 85 questions correctly within five hours to earn a passing score. The exam automatically ends when the minimum number of correct answers or the maximum number of answers have been recorded.
LPN candidates seeking endorsement must apply within two years of completing an approved training program that includes 200 clinical practice hours. Those who have not completed an approved program may still be eligible with 1,000 practice hours in the past five years or 400 practice hours in the past two years. Authorized refresher courses are accepted, as well. Candidates whose LPN status lapsed should apply for reinstatement, not endorsement, which costs $234.
To obtain a temporary LPN permit, candidates who plan to take the NCLEX-PN must submit an official college transcript, a copy of their job offer letter, and a criminal history authorized by the State of Delaware and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The permit expires 90 days after their graduation date, or if they fail their exam. Temporary permit seekers who plan to become licensed LPNs through endorsement must submit a nursing reference form along with a job offer letter and criminal background check. The permit expires 90 days after the issue date.
The LPN license expires on February 28 of even years. To renew the license, LPNs must complete 24 hours of continuing education and submit proof of either 1,000 practice hours in the past five years or 400 hours in the past two years.
NPs and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are licensed through the Delaware Board of Nursing. To qualify for APRN licensure, candidates must apply for or hold a valid RN license in Delaware or another state that is part of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact. Additionally, they must have earned a master's degree or certification in a clinical nursing specialty within the past two years. Those without a master's or certificate may qualify with at least 600 specialty practice hours in the past two years or at least 1,500 practice hours in the past five years. Candidates who seek APRN licensure in more than one specialty must apply for each separately.
Candidates begin by submitting an application for licensure as an APRN. The application includes questions about RN status, specialty, education background, certification, and employment history. Delaware accepts the following certified NP specialties: adult/gerontological, family, neonatal, pediatric, psychiatric/mental health, and women's health/gender-related. Applications that have not been completed within one year of filing are discarded.
Candidates must include a copy of their APRN certification with the application. Multiple organizations offer certification exams for NPs in different specialty areas, including the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Exam costs and formats vary. For example, the AANP's Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner certification exam consists of 150 questions and costs $315 for nonmembers. The ANCC's Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner certifying exam consists of 200 questions and costs $395 for nonmembers.
Collaborative agreements are required if the APRN has practiced for less than two years and/or accrued fewer than 400 practice hours. Candidates must maintain the collaborative agreement until one or both of these benchmarks are met.
Additional steps are required for prescriptive authority, which licensed APRNs must have to prescribe medication. When completing their application, APRNs must check 'Yes' on question two. Their transcript must include coursework in advanced health assessment, diagnosis and management of specialty-related problems, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics. The latter subject may require additional proof of CE completion.
Those who completed their APRN with the requisite pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics coursework within the last two years do not need to submit proof of CE; those with APRN licenses with prescriptive authority in other states must show at least 10 CE hours related to this topic. Those who earned their APRN license more than two years before applying and never held prescriptive authority in another state must submit proof of at least 30 CE hours in advanced pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics.
Delaware APRN licenses carry the same expiration date as the APRN's RN license. To renew the license, APRNs must complete at least 600 practice hours in the previous two years or 1,500 practice hours in the previous five years. Alternatively, they may renew the APRN license by graduating from a specialty program within the last two years. Prescriptive authority carries the same expiration date as the license. APRNs with prescriptive authority must complete at least 10 CE hours in pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics every two years. Those who do not renew their prescriptive authority must return their certificate to the Office of Controlled Substances.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Delware
Facilities such as Bayhealth Hospital in Dover specialize in cardiac surgery, neurosciences, orthopedic rehabilitation, and cancer services. Each of these areas needs nurses with relevant specializations.
Employment Data For RNs in Delaware
According to BLS data from May 2017, RNs in Delaware earn a mean annual salary of $73,180. The 90th percentile earns an annual salary of $97,930, while the 10th percentile earns $54,350 per year.
11,620 RNs work in Delaware, representing the third-highest location quotient, or ratio of state to national job concentration, behind South Dakota and West Virginia. Roughly 9,240 RNs work in the Wilmington metropolitan area, where they earn a mean annual salary of $74,320. About 1,320 RNs work in the Dover metro area, earning a mean annual salary of $66,060. Although salaries are lower for RNs in Dover, the location quotient is also lower, meaning that jobs are less competitive. The BLS does not provide information for other metro areas in Delaware.
RNs who work for the government earn the highest salaries, according to the BLS. These professionals make roughly $75,900 per year. Those who work for state, local, or private hospitals -- representing 61% of the industry -- earn a median annual salary of $72,070. Salaries are lower for RNs who work for ambulatory healthcare services, nursing and residential care services, and educational services.
Employment Data For CNAs in Delaware
BLS 2017 data indicates that 4,830 nursing assistants work in Delaware. The mean annual salary for CNAs in the state is $29,740. The 90th percentile earns $37,500, while the 10th percentile earns $23,600.
The location quotient for nursing assistants in Delaware is 1.07, which is on par with the average location quotient nationwide. Roughly 3,390 of Delaware's 4,830 nursing assistants are employed in the Wilmington metro area, where the location quotient is 0.96. They earn a mean annual salary of $30,630. 870 nursing assistants work in the Dover area, with a location quotient of 1.35. Dover's nursing assistants earn a mean annual salary of $28,710. Based on earnings and competition for jobs, Wilmington offers better job prospects than Dover.
Regarding work environment, roughly 40% of nursing assistants work for nursing care facilities, and another 26% work for hospitals. Median annual salaries for nursing assistants at these workplaces are $26,700 and $29,260, respectively. Nursing assistants who work for the government earn the highest median salary at $32,860. Those working in home healthcare services or assisted living for the elderly earn salaries that fall between $25,000 and $26,000 per year.
Employment Data For NPs in Delaware
According to BLS data from May 2017, NPs in Delaware earn a mean annual wage of $105,380. The 90th percentile earn $136,700 per year, and the 10th percentile earn $82,140 per year.
The location quotient for NPs in Delaware is 1.458, which is slightly higher than the national average. Approximately 660 NPs work in the Wilmington metro area, where the mean annual salary is $87,740 and the location quotient is 1.62. In Dover, only 80 NPs are employed. Their mean annual salary is $94,690 and the location quotient is 1.15. Compared to Wilmington, Dover offers better job prospects for NPs based on compensation and job competition.
Roughly 46% of NPs work for physicians' offices, earning a median annual salary of $105,730. Another 25% of NPs work for general medical and surgical hospitals, earning $111,850 per year. The highest wages among NP employers include personal care services with $139,460 and management, scientific, and consulting services with $132,200. However, jobs are scarcer in these industries. BLS data indicates that 310 NPs work in personal care services and 50 work in management, scientific, and consulting services.
Biggest Hospitals in Delaware
- Wilmington Hospital – Christiana Care : Located in Wilmington, this nonprofit facility is part of the Christiana Care Health System and houses the state’s only level I trauma center and level III neonatal intensive care unit. With 241 patient beds, more than 1,400 physicians and surgeons on staff, and some of the most advanced healthcare technology in the state, this is a great location for patients and employees.
- Bayhealth Medical Center – Kent Campus : Located in Dover, this nonprofit facility has more than 3,600 employees, 400 of whom are physicians. The Kent campus offers specialized centers for rehabilitation, advanced joint replacement, and behavioral health. Bayhealth employees receive substantial benefits, tuition reimbursement plans, and childcare services.
Additional Nursing Resources in Delaware
- American Nurses Association: Students and recent graduates from nursing schools in Delaware benefit from joining the ANA, which offers thorough and up-to-date resources. ANA provides career advising, offers professional development guidance, and hosts annual conferences. ANA also hires graduates of Delaware nursing schools.
- Delaware Chapter of the National Hispanic Nurses Association: This organization is committed to improving the health of Hispanic communities while advancing educational, professional, and leadership opportunities for Hispanic nurses. For those pursuing an online nursing degree, NAHN offers regular meetings and online career resources. Membership does not require a degree; nursing students are encouraged to join the group before entering the job market.
- Delaware Nurse Jobs: Ideal for students in accelerated nursing programs in Delaware who will soon enter the job market, this resource lists available positions in the state. Operated by the Delaware Nurses Association, Delaware Nurse Jobs provides up-to-date information. Job seekers may post résumés and set up job alerts for available positions.
- American Nurses Credentialing Center: The ANCC organizes four types of credentialing programs that certify and recognize nurses in specialty areas. For students pursuing an online nursing degree, attending an ANCC national conference provides networking opportunities and information on the latest research.
- Delaware Nurses Association: Most nursing schools in Delaware help students connect with organizations, such as DNA, that support nurses through education and research. DNA provides Delaware nursing school students with reliable resources and helps its members protect themselves in legal situations, such as professional practice liability cases.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Delaware