The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a remarkable 15% increase in nursing jobs between 2016 and 2026. This growth is reflected in on-campus enrollment and online nursing degree programs. In 2016, nearly 2,000 students enrolled in nursing schools in Kansas, and more than 940 students graduated from BSN programs in the state. With the demand for qualified nurses on the rise, there has never been a better time to earn an online nursing degree.
This page includes valuable information about nursing schools in Kansas, how to become a nurse in the state, and career options for licensed nurses. Read on to learn about different types of online nursing programs in Kansas to make an informed choice that best fits your personal and academic goals.
How to Become a Nurse in Kansas
Each state has specific guidelines and pathways to licensure. While the licensing process in Kansas is similar to other states, details such as licensing costs and procedures are specific to the state. The guide below explains the steps required to earn your online nursing degree and become a practicing nurse in Kansas.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
An associate degree in nursing (ADN) is the minimum degree required to become a nurse. While ADN programs take two to three years to complete, advanced nursing positions may require a bachelor's or master's in nursing (MSN). Those who want to teach nursing at the college level may need a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Each degree path takes a different amount of time to complete, but each requires a great deal of commitment. Choose the track that aligns with your individual career goals.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Earning an online nursing degree allows students to maintain flexibility in their schedules and accommodate their work and family life. Graduate-level nursing programs, such as MSN or DNP programs, require a BSN as a prerequisite for admission. Most require clinicals -- in-person work hours performed under supervision -- which can affect degree completion time.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Nursing schools in Kansas prepare students to earn nursing licensure and practice nursing professionally in the state. A $200 fee accompanies the licensing exam, and additional fees vary by state. Passing the exam and earning a nursing license does not guarantee you a job, but licensed nurses with online nursing degrees are among the most competitive candidates.
Nursing Licensure in Kansas
Earning your nursing licensure in Kansas consists of a few important steps. To practice as a licensed nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. Students must first earn a nursing degree of at least an associate level for exam eligibility.
Although only an ADN is necessary to take the exam, many employers require a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). If you want to practice nursing in a different state, you must apply for a license transfer and register in the new state. These requirements vary, but in Kansas, nurses who earned their license out of state must apply online for a new endorsement. Visit the Kansas State Board of Nursing website for more information about renewal and applications.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Kansas
App Fee $75
License Fee $25
State Requirements By Nursing Type
Graduates of associate or bachelor's nursing programs may apply for a registered nurse (RN) license from the Kansas Board of Nursing. While many students begin the licensure process before graduation, applicants have up to two years to take the NCLEX-RN before seeking permission from the state board. After five years, nursing graduates who have not taken and passed the exam must return to a nursing program. Applicants should register for the test using the exact name used in their nursing license application.
Students register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX-RN but must ask the state for permission to take the $200 exam. The test uses multiple choice, multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, and chart questions to cover topics of safe and effective care environments, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. The computer-assisted exam includes at least 75 and up to 265 questions, continuing until students demonstrate nursing competency, answer the maximum number of questions, or the six-hour time limit has elapsed.
Kansas charges $75 for an RN license and applicants must also pay $48 for a criminal background check and $7.50 for a scan of their fingerprints. Applicants must disclose any misdemeanor or felony convictions, as well as any professional disciplinary actions, an outline of their sentence or disciplinary action, the current status of their sentence, and any rehabilitation they have completed.
After gaining licensure, RNs must earn 30 continuing education (CE) credits before their license expires, provided that is more than 18 months in the future. Licenses expire the last day of the RN's birthday month and can be renewed up to 90 days in advance. Nurses should complete and document all CE before submitting their renewal application. Out-of-state RNs seeking to work in Kansas can request a license by endorsement, present proof of education, current licensure, and work history.
The Kansas Aging and Disabilities Services Department governs the licensing and regulation of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) for the state. Applicants must complete the state's certified nurse aide course, a 90-hour course taught by a licensed RN. The curriculum covers 18 core skills through both classroom and clinical instruction. CNAs must also pass a state licensing exam after completing the program. A one-time, four-month license allows nurse's aides to work while preparing for the state test. Certificates require applicants to score at least 75% on the exam.
If a facility has offered the CNA a job before they begin a nurse aide training program, the facility pays the cost of training. Students can seek reimbursement for their out-of-pocket expenses if a facility hires them within 12 months of graduation. CNAs must submit to a criminal background check and pay the $48 administrative fee and $7.50 fee for fingerprint scans. The criminal background check may require the disclosure of juvenile convictions if the offense would prohibit an individual from working in an adult care facility. However, some offenses only preclude individuals from joining the field for six years.
A CNA license remains active for as long as they continue to work and lapses if a CNA does not work for at least eight hours in a two-year period. In this situation, the nurse aid can enroll in a two-day refresher course or take part in the 18-skill checklist with an RN. Individuals licensed in another state can make an interstate application to Kansas provided they hold an active license in their state. Transferring CNAs must complete a test and pay a $20 application fee.
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) may work in healthcare settings under the supervision of an RN, medical doctor or surgeon, or dentist. LPNs assist in supportive and restorative care, taking on duties outlined in their educational program. Under Kansas law, LPNs must complete an approved practical nursing education program that includes clinical experiences incorporated throughout the curriculum.
Students graduating from schools outside of Kansas must provide documentation of clinical skills. Prospective LPNs can apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) by submitting their transcript to the Kansas Board of Nursing before they graduate. They must register with Pearson Vue (a $200 fee) for the computer-based exam and wait for the state to issue their permission to test.
NCLEX-PN integrates knowledge from medical, surgical, pediatric, obstetric, and psychiatric courses, with 85 to 205 possible questions. Students have up to five hours to complete the exam, though the test will end when students demonstrate their competency or have answered the maximum number of questions. Applicants must take the exam within two years of graduation. After five years, applicants must repeat their nursing education program. Applicants who fail the exam can retake it after 45 days.
LPNs wishing to transfer their license to Kansas can apply for a license by endorsement with proof of graduation from approved nursing programs. A temporary 120-day permit allows LPNs to work while the state reviews their application. All applicants must complete a criminal background check and a fingerprint scan. Kansas bases expiration of licenses on the applicant's birthdate. LPNs must renew their license on or before the last day of their birth month, depending on the year they were born.
Kansas requires nurse practitioners (NPs) to hold a current license as an RN before seeking an advanced practice nursing (APN) license. Applicants must complete a minimum of a master's degree from an accredited and approved nursing program offering clinical instruction and preparation. Applicants completing an out-of-state program must seek review of the curriculum by the board to ensure it meets state standards.
Kansas offers the following APN licenses: NP, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse anesthetist. Educational requirements include advanced study of pharmacology, pathophysiology, and health assessment. Nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists must obtain malpractice insurance before being granted a license, and nurse anesthetists must also pass the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists exam.
Kansas charges $50 for most advanced practice nursing licenses, though the nurse anesthetist license fee is $75. For an additional $35-$50, applicants can request a temporary permit to begin working in their field while the state processes their application. The state will not renew these 180-day permits.
Once licensed, NPs may prescribe drugs using a written protocol authorized by a physician. They may also register with the Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe controlled substances. NPs must earn 30 CE credits every two years to retain their license, which expires the last day of their birthday month, depending on when they were born. Renewing an NP license also includes automatic renewal of their RN license.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Kansas
Licensed professionals with an online nursing degree will find a wealth of job opportunities in Kansas. RN programs in Kansas prepare students to practice nursing in general healthcare settings and for further training to pursue specialized medical careers. In Kansas, RNs earn lower salaries than anesthetist nurses, who make a mean annual wage of nearly $160,000. This type of nursing requires more education and training, so aspiring anesthetist nurses should consider online MSN programs in Kansas.
Kansas' nursing schools also prepare students to become NPs, a career path that is growing more quickly than the national average. This specific nurse needs advanced education and training beyond their RN and BSN degrees. Regardless of the type of nursing, the industry continues to grow steadily in Kansas.
Employment Data for RNs in Kansas
RNs in Kansas earn a median annual wage of $58,850, though salaries may range from $43,140 up to $79,370. A nurse's specific location in the state can impact wages and employment opportunities. Topeka offers the top median salary at $62,440, while Manhattan just to the west offers a median salary of $50,600. Wichita employs the highest number of these types of nurses in the state, with 6,220 RNs working in the city.
The BLS reports 28,900 RNs working in the state. Nationally, the agency projects a 15% increase in these positions through 2026. Healthcare facilities reported 6.3% of their RN positions were vacant in 2017, pointing to an additional need for those certified in this type of nursing. Nationally, most RNs find work in general and surgical hospitals, with 1.6 million making up 30.64% of employment in the industry. Physician's offices follow with 196,040 RNs employed, followed by home health care services employing 179,310 RNs. This type of nurse remains highly sought after and well compensated in industries related to medical care, including pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, the top-paying industry for the field with a median wage of $90,510, followed by accounting at $89,050 and the federal government's executive branch at $87,030.
Employment Data for CNAs in Kansas
Kansas reports 7% of CNA jobs across the state went unfilled in 2017, with 22,590 CNAs working across the state. Most CNAs find work in skilled nursing facilities or general and surgical hospitals, working under the direction of an LPN or RN. Continuing care communities and assisted living facilities also hire thousands of nursing assistants across the country. Jobs within the federal executive branch pay more than the national mean wage at $38,340 annually, but these jobs remain competitive with only a 14,140 CNAs employed across the country.
Employers paid CNAs in Kansas a median wage of $24,560, though salaries ranged from $20,560 for the 10th percentile to $31,220 for the 90th percentile. Wages varied by location, with Lawrence in the northeastern part of the state paying a median salary of $25,670 compared to Southeast Kansas with a median salary of $22,680. The number of CNAs employed also varies by region. Wichita, the state's largest city, has 4,340 CNAs employed compared to only 540 in Lawrence and 610 in Manhattan, Kansas. Northwest Kansas reported the highest concentration of CNAs, with 29.38 nursing assistants per 1,000 jobs. The region offers a median salary of $24,650, with the top 90th percentile reporting a salary of $31,750.
Employment Data for NPs in Kansas
About 2,000 NPs work in Kansas, including nurse midwives, primary care NPs, and clinical specialists. These types of nurses earn a median wage of $96,6770 in Kansas, but that wage varies from $61,330 for the 10th percentile up to $129,630 for the 90th percentile. Topeka, Kansas has the highest percentage of NPs employed, with more than two positions per 1,000 jobs. Here, this type of nurse makes slightly above the statewide median wage with $104,380.
Wichita, the largest city in the state, pays the least for this profession, with a median wage of $79,620. But Wichita offers a lower cost of living than other areas of the state, such as Lawrence, located in northeast Kansas, with a median wage of $107,510. BestPlaces reports an overall cost of living index of 86 percent in Wichita versus the 100 index for Lawrence, with median home costs the most significant difference in living costs.
As the need for medical services grows, especially in rural or medically underserved communities and regions, the demand for NPs will increase. The BLS projects a 31% increase in jobs for nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives. Nationally, most NPs work in physician offices or general and surgical hospitals and find employment in personal care services, with an annual mean wage of $139,460, or with consulting services, which pays a mean salary of $132,200.
Biggest Hospitals in Kansas
Large hospitals are likely to employ a great number of nurses and boast ample job openings, presenting employment opportunities for recent graduates of nursing schools in Kansas. Hospitals also provide avenues for fellowships and internships. Some hospitals are associated with universities, allowing students at nursing colleges in Kansas opportunities for hands-on experience. The hospitals below are two of the largest in the state.
- University of Kansas Hospital: With more than 80 locations in Kansas metropolitan areas, the University of Kansas Hospital is one of the largest in the state. With accolades in specific medical fields, this hospital offers specialized services in areas such as cancer treatment, heart care, and neuroscience. The hospital's university affiliation makes it one of the top research hospitals in the nation.
- Stormont-Vail Regional Medical Center: Located in Topeka, Stormont-Vail Regional Medical Center is a general medicine and surgical facility with 586 patient beds. The hospital specializes in cancer care, cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology. It boasts an affiliation with the Baker School of Nursing and many types of nursing training programs.
Additional Nursing Resources in Kansas
- Kansas Financial Aid: The Kansas Board of Regents provides resources to help students with state-based aid in Kansas' nursing schools. The state offers a scholarship reserved for students in nursing programs as part of the Kansas Nursing Initiative. This website connects Kansas students with important financial aid resources.
- Kansas State Nurses Association: The Kansas State Nurses Association is a great resource for students in online nursing degree programs and licensed nurses practicing in the state. Members and non-members can take advantage of resources on the website, including information about licensing, current legislature and laws concerning all types of nursing practices, and upcoming events across the state.
- Kansas Advanced Practice Nurses Association: A branch of the Kansas State Nurses Association, KAPN is for Kansas nurses in advanced practice positions. The association advocates for nursing practice at the legislative level.
- Kansas Association of Nurse Anesthetists: This association offers a network of certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA). KANA works to provide affordable and safe anesthesia services by promoting the safe image of CRNAs and educating the public on this affordable alternative to anesthesiologists.
- Kansas Association of Nursing Students: The KANS website focuses on learners in the state to provide resources for these types of nursing students, including access to exclusive scholarships and financial aid. It also offers a career networking outlet to help students connect with employers.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Kansas