Nursing is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15% increase in employment of registered nurses between 2016 and 2026, more than double the anticipated overall job growth for the United States. Working in a major metropolitan area, experienced registered nurses can earn above $100,000 annually.
Besides the financial incentives, this career appeals to personable individuals who can remain calm under pressure. Registered nurses make up the front line of modern medicine. Nurses work closely with patients to ensure their comfort and facilitate their journey towards recovery. Registered nurses have many avenues for growth, including furthering their educations and becoming nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or even physicians. Outside of medical settings, experienced nurses often return to the classroom as teachers, instructing the next generation of nurses.
Whether earning your online nursing degree or attending classes on campus, nursing schools in Iowa offer students a high-quality education at competitive prices. After earning your degree, interstate licensure reciprocity agreements allow you to work in 25 states without additional training or certification.
How to Become a Nurse in Iowa
No matter which state you attend school in, the process to become a registered nurse is much the same. First, you must earn an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in nursing. Online nursing schools in Iowa may require you to complete practicum experience near the university or locally in your community. Once you graduate, you must pass a licensing examination. Depending on the state where you intend to work as a registered nurse, other licensing exams and fees may apply.
Choose the Right Path for You
When considering which nursing school in Iowa to attend, there are four unique paths to consider. Aspiring nurses without any post-high school education can pursue an associate degree in nursing. Successful completion of this program qualifies you as a registered nurse. Others choose to begin their careers after earning a bachelor’s in nursing. This degree helps many new registered nurses make a higher salary at their first job. For seasoned nurses aiming to take their careers to the next level, earning a master’s in nursing (MSN) qualifies them to become nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners can treat patients and write prescriptions without the help of a physician. Finally, the doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP) is nursing’s terminal degree. A DNP degree is necessary if you hope to one day instruct the next generation of nurses. Before committing to an online nursing program in Iowa, make sure that the college or university you’re considering offers a program that fits your educational background and career aspirations.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
There are many questions to consider when researching nursing schools in Iowa. What prerequisites does this school require? Carefully compare your academic background against each school’s requirements. If accepted, does this program require me to complete clinicals, fellowships, or internships? To find the best fit, you should determine if you can fulfill these requirements in addition to your work and life schedule. Lastly, how long will it take me to earn a degree? An associate degree program requires less than two years, while a doctoral program requires three to six years. Some online nursing degree programs offer accelerated programs. These accelerated nursing programs in Iowa give dedicated students the chance to earn their degree in less time. Finally, do you want to earn an online nursing degree? Online RN programs in Iowa offer many advantages to prospective students, especially those with full or part-time jobs.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
All nursing programs in Iowa prepare their students for licensing. Your on-campus or online nursing degree and practicum experience provide the foundational knowledge needed for the NCLEX-RN, an exam all nursing students must pass before becoming registered nurses. The exam costs $200, and you take it on a computer at a testing center. The computer-adaptive exam consists of between 75 and 265 questions. Once you pass the exam and graduate from your nursing school in Iowa, the length of your job hunt depends on your location. Many new registered nurses begin their careers at hospitals located in metropolitan areas. More experienced nurses, such as nurse practitioners, tend to work in private practices in suburban or rural settings.
Nursing Licensure in Iowa
Becoming a registered nurse requires more than completing an associate or bachelor’s RN program in Iowa. In addition to conveying essential skills and knowledge, your Iowa nursing school program prepares you for the licensure exam. Nursing students in every state must pass the NCLEX-RN before they start working as a registered nurse. Most questions are multiple-choice. The test evaluates your knowledge of basic nursing concepts such as preventing infection and ensuring patient comfort. The majority of nursing students take the exam near the end of their program.
If you attend a nursing school in Iowa and pass the NCLEX-RN, 24 states automatically recognize your nursing license, allowing you to continue working even if you move. Working as a registered nurse in a non-reciprocal state may require you to pass other exams or complete extra coursework. Finally, do not confuse with the NCLEX-RN with the NCLEX-PN. The latter is a separate exam for experienced registered nurses working to become nurse practitioners.
Before taking the NCLEX-RN in Iowa, consult the state’s Board of Nursing to learn the latest information regarding licensure requirements.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Iowa
App. Fee $93
Career Outlook for Nurses in Iowa
Students earning their online nursing degree have a bright career outlook; the projected growth in the nursing field is more than double than that of all other professions. In Iowa, nursing positions grew 30% between 2005 and 2015. Enrollment in nursing programs matches this pace of job growth, indicating that students who enroll in a nursing school in Iowa should easily find employment soon after graduation.
Although Iowa has more nurses per capita than the national average, the large percentage of nurses over age 50 indicates that job openings should continue to be available as this group of nurses reaches retirement age. In Iowa and throughout the nation, the increasing need for nurses and other medical professionals should continue to grow as the percentage of older Americans increases. The projected growth of the field suggests that earning your online nursing degree helps you achieve a long-term, successful career.
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Biggest Hospitals in Iowa
After earning your online nursing degree, your job search begins at Iowa’s many hospitals. Both independent hospitals and those run by HMOs recruit nurses throughout the year. Working in a hospital exposes you to different fields of medicine, allowing you to find your nursing niche. Also, when starting your nursing program in Iowa, look to local hospitals for internship or fellowship opportunities, which can make your resume stand out to future employers.
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC): With nearly 700 beds and admitting over 30,000 patients for inpatient care annually, UIHC boasts one of the best pediatric specialty programs in the country. Students completing their nursing program in Iowa should consider UIHC if they plan to work primarily with children or become a pediatric nurse practitioner. UIHC employs 2,800 nurses at its main hospital in Iowa City, its satellite campus in Coralville, and over 200 outpatient clinics across the state.
- Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines: At Mercy, over 7,000 staff members work together to treat 30,000 patients every year. Mercy is part of an extensive network of hospitals administered by Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI). This network gives nurses the option to transfer between different CHI hospitals if they decide to move out of state.
Iowa Board of Nursing
The Iowa Board of Nursing provides valuable information to future registered nurses. For students attending a nursing school online in Iowa, the site contains the latest information regarding nursing licensure and employment trends. For practicing nurses, the site offers information on licensure renewal and continuing education.
Iowa Nurses Association
This association advocates for nurses across the state. It offers valuable resources for prospective nursing students, including scholarship opportunities. The association’s career center connects recent graduates to job hunting resources. Members also benefit from special rates on auto, life, and professional liability insurance.
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP)
Since 1973, NAPNAP has worked to improve the healthcare received by children and adolescents. If you are working towards an online MSN program in Iowa, NAPNAP can connect you with job resources and discounts on insurance. NAPNAP also keeps its members up to date with the latest research into nursing best practices.
National Student Nurses Association (NSNA)
While earning your online nursing degree, you may feel a disconnect between yourself and other student nurses. This association offers networking opportunities, and NSNA membership includes many NCLEX-RN test guides at a reduced cost. Additionally, members receive discounts at many retailers, helping you save money throughout your education.
Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society (INPS)
While earning a master’s at a nursing school in Iowa, you may decide that you want to work in the state. In that case, consider joining INPS. The society’s members lobby the state legislature for laws and policies that improve patient outcomes and working conditions for hospital staff.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Iowa
When researching online nursing schools in Iowa, consider only those that have accreditation. The list below contains all accredited online nursing programs in the state. Before exploring the list, take a moment to review the three main types of nursing programs. At a minimum, registered nurses must complete an associate degree in nursing. Online RN to BSN programs in Iowa help registered nurses earn their bachelor’s. This degree can open the door to job promotions and salary increases. Online MSN programs in Iowa help registered nurses become nurse practitioners. Others earn this degree as a stepping stone to work as an instructor in a nursing program. Iowa’s colleges and universities offer online nursing degrees at each of these levels.