The U.S. healthcare industry continues to expand at an unprecedented rate, comprising a considerable portion of the national economy. A reimagined approach to preventive care has driven much of this growth, along with an aging baby boomer population and increasing chronic illness rates. Nursing professionals are the bedrock of this burgeoning industry, and there has never been a better time to join the profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for registered nurses are projected to grow by 15% through 2026, more than double the national average.
The nursing profession offers more than just job security. Nursing salaries can be quite lucrative, particularly if you’re considering a career in Hawaii. The BLS projects that nursing jobs in Hawaii will grow by 13% through 2026. Though that projected job growth falls slightly below the national rate, it is offset by significantly higher salaries. In 2016, the median salary of all registered nurses in the country was $68,450; in Hawaii, however, the median salary was much higher, at $91,020. With job security, career mobility, and particularly good compensation, attending one of the nursing schools in Hawaii is a solid educational investment.
How to Become a Nurse in Hawaii
Hawaii nursing school graduates generally follow the same path to licensure as their peers in other states. When it comes to licensing, every state’s Board of Nursing establishes logistical details like application fees and procedural steps. If you’re considering nursing school in Hawaii, here’s what you can expect.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
Entry-level nurses must hold at least a two-year degree in order to qualify for RN licensure. Students can earn this degree at one of the on-campus or online RN programs in Hawaii. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) have recommended that all RNs have a four-year bachelor’s degree. To that end, many working RNs are returning to school to complete online RN-to-BSN programs in Hawaii. Most new nursing students now opt for a four-year BSN program. If your career goals extend to advanced practice nursing or teaching, you can continue your studies at the postgraduate level with an MSN or doctoral program.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
As you evaluate nursing schools in Hawaii, ask yourself how each program can help you achieve your career goals. Most of a typical nursing program can be completed remotely, and aspiring nurses often take advantage of the flexibility that an online nursing degree offers. Carefully consider whether online study meets your needs. All nursing programs in Hawaii carry prerequisite requirements; are you eligible to apply? Assess program logistics like the length of classes, part-time availability, and the time it takes to graduate. Pay particular attention to clinical experience and internship requirements, and make sure you’re able to meet them.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Though standalone exam prep tools are on the market, nursing schools in Hawaii design their curricula to prepare graduates for the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. Shortly before graduation, students must apply for professional licensing in the state of Hawaii. This application requires a $40 fee. After the application is approved, students must apply for NCLEX-RN exam registration, a $200 fee. Successful applicants can then complete the NCLEX-RN exam. Successful licensure qualifies RNs for employment in the state of Hawaii, but does not guarantee a job.
Nursing Licensure in Hawaii
After completing an ADN or BSN from an accredited nursing college in Hawaii, you’re three steps away from licensure. First you must apply for professional licensing through the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Hawaii Board of Nursing reviews your application and verifies that you’ve met educational requirements to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. When the BON approves your candidacy, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT). With the ATT in hand, you may select a test site and date. Due to occasional space limitations, it’s wise to commit to a test date well before the ATT’s two-year testing window ends.
Two business days after the exam, you may access your test results online. The Hawaii Board of Nursing will mail your formal results to you in about six weeks. If you do not pass, you may retake the exam by contacting the BON and resubmitting an application. It is important to note that Hawaii is not part of the original Nurse Licensure Compact that allows RNs to hold multi-state licensure. Graduates of ADN and BSN programs in Hawaii are granted RN licensure in Hawaii only. RNs who hold Hawaii licensure may apply for licensure in other states according to National Council of State Boards of Nursing rules.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Hawaii
Career Outlook for Nurses in Hawaii
As the data below illustrates, a somewhat small number of RNs live in Hawaii, especially compared to the number of nurses in most other states. However, the BLS projects that Registered Nursing jobs across the state will grow by 13% through 2026.
Data from the Hawaii State Center for Nursing indicates that the majority of RNs work on Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui. RNs in Hawaii are most often employed in hospitals, and often specialize in acute care delivery. Seven out of ten hold a bachelor’s degree. Over the last ten years, APRN jobs have grown by 10%, especially in roles that serve the large rural population of the state. Graduates of online MSN programs in Hawaii may be particularly well positioned for lucrative careers.
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Biggest Hospitals in Hawaii
Large medical facilities can offer the best selection of entry-level nursing jobs in any community. Bigger and better-funded entities are able to support more areas of specialty care and are more likely to partner with nursing schools in Hawaii to offer clinicals and fellowships. Across the islands of Hawaii, 18 hospitals offer employment opportunities to recent graduates from online nursing degree programs.
- Hilo Medical Center on Hawaii’s Big Island delivers a full complement of care on its 20-acre campus. The 275-bed facility includes a Level III Trauma Center emergency room, a behavioral health unit, and a long-term care facility. Hilo employs about 1,000 medical professionals across 33 specialties. Outside of its main campus, it operates nine outpatient clinics.
- The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu is the largest hospital in the state, housing 28 subacute care beds and 505 acute care beds. Queen’s is a private nonprofit hospital that employs more than 3,000 professional staff. The hospital’s highlights include a Level I Trauma Center emergency room, 24-hour emergency psychiatric care, and a child and adolescent psychiatric in-patient treatment center.
Additional Nursing Resources in Hawaii
Hawaii Board of Nursing
Your first stop for procedural information on the nursing profession in Hawaii, this site offers information on NCLEX-RN testing, licensure verification, and complaint and disciplinary actions. Professional resources include information on substance abuse (including an opioid toolkit), access to the practice errors and risk factors database, scope of practice guidelines, and legislative and policy updates.
Hawaii State Center for Nursing
Established by the Hawaii state legislature to promote a diverse workforce and advance the profession of nursing, the center conducts research and analyzes data relevant to professional nurses in Hawaii. The site regularly publishes its results in actionable infographics. The center offers a nurse residency program, professional development workshops, and continuing education materials.
Hawaii Student Nurses Association
The Hawaii chapter of the National Student Nurses Association offers extensive member benefits including networking events, scholarship opportunities, leadership development programs, and NCLEX-RN prep for students about to finish their online nursing degrees. Members also receive discounts from local vendors on uniforms, school supplies, and travel expenses.
Hawaii Nurses Association
Originally affiliated with the ANA and now a local branch of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, HNA offers its members union benefits, assistance with contractual negotiations or management disputes, scholarship funds, and networking events.
Asian American Pacific Islander Nurses Association
Dedicated to the professional support of these nursing professionals, AAPINA offers member benefits like networking and mentorship opportunities, research grants, scholarships, an annual conference, and access to its scholarly publications.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Hawaii
We’ve gathered key information about the accredited nursing schools in Hawaii that deliver ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP online nursing degrees. Whether you’re considering formal nursing education for the first time or thinking about returning to school, all the information you need about online nursing programs in Hawaii is listed here.