Nurses assess patient needs and administer medications; some even serve primary care providers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median income for registered nurses at $68,450 and projects a job growth rate of 15% through 2026. This projected increase would equate to more than 437,000 new nursing jobs.
In Louisiana, more than 33% of nurses have more than 20 years experience. Louisiana offers multiple paths to enter the nursing field. Students can complete most associate programs in two years. Registered nurses have the opportunity to earn a bachelor of science through online RN to BSN program in Louisiana. Nursing colleges in Louisiana also offer opportunities to earn a master of science and a doctorate in nursing, with each degree providing more career opportunities and higher average wages.
How to Become a Nurse in Louisiana
Many states have similar requirements for nursing education programs, such as ensuring adequate clinical and hands-on practice and a demonstration of knowledge. Prospective nurses must pass the National Licensure Council Exam for RNs, a rigorous six-hour test, and supply the Louisiana State Board of Nursing all required transcripts and documentation, including fingerprints for a criminal background check.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
Students can begin their nursing careers in two years through one of the many RN programs in Louisiana. Many nurses find more opportunities by earning a higher education, often turning to online RN to BSN programs in Louisiana. Nurses who wish to specialize in a particular area such as pediatrics or become stand-alone medical providers or nurse educators must consider online MSN programs in Louisiana and doctorate of nursing practice degrees. Accelerated nursing programs in Louisiana can shorten the time it takes an RN to complete bachelor’s and master’s programs.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
A BSN degree requires at least four years to earn. Master’s programs require an additional two years, while a doctorate takes another three to five years to complete. While online nursing degrees offer students greater flexibility than traditional on-campus programs, students are still required to complete hands-on learning. Many schools begin with a pre-nursing curriculum that includes general education courses in English, history, and math, and foundational courses such as anatomy, physiology, and biology. Because nursing programs often have more applicants than schools can accommodate, students seeking admission to Louisiana nursing schools must focus on pre-nursing classes to ensure they complete all required pre-requisites. Many programs may ask for personal and academic references and interviews with applicants.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
All nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN exam before being granted a license to practice nursing. The test utilizes the five-step nursing process with multiple choice questions, covering everything from general knowledge to testing a candidate’s ability to judge and evaluate information and apply it to specific patient needs. Students have six hours to complete the test, with two short breaks. The test costs about $200.
Nursing Licensure in Louisiana
Every state regulates the nursing profession, setting minimum standards that applicants must meet before being granted a license. Graduates of approved nursing schools in Louisiana and nursing-degree holders may apply for an RN license from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. The state board provides an authorization to test, which the NCLEX requires to register for the exam.
Graduates must pass the test within four years of completing their nursing education, and may only take the test four times. The state conducts a background check of all nursing applicants, and applicants cannot have any pending criminal or civil charges. Because many nursing graduates often have offers of employment when leaving school, Louisiana offers a temporary 90-day permit. Only residents of Louisiana are eligible for this permit. The expedited permit does require an additional fee. Louisiana recognizes advanced practice registered nurses for certified nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, or nurse anesthetists.
Applicants for the APRN must provide transcripts of their education, such as transcripts from an online nursing program in Louisiana. The state grants licenses on a calendar-year basis, from January to December, regardless of when the initial application is made. Nurses must renew their license during the fall of each year to avoid fines or a lapse in their license.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Louisiana
App Fee $100
Career Outlook for Nurses in Louisiana
Nationally, the nursing field enjoys continued job growth, projected at 15% through 2026, a rate higher than the average growth for all occupations. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing found most graduates of on-campus or online RN programs in Louisiana continue to be employed by hospitals. These large care centers offer services to all ages and provide vital preventative services and community outreach.
An increasing number of graduates from nursing schools in Louisiana have also found work in physician’s offices. The state has also reported an increase in nursing jobs at long-term care facilities. Healthcare providers have a continued demand for qualified nurse practitioners to help serve a growing population of patients in need of primary care services.
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Biggest Hospitals in Louisiana
Many nursing graduates find employment at hospitals. These facilities serve a large number of patients with around-the-clock care and have numerous job openings for qualified, credentialed nurses. Hospitals also often serve as clinical sites for nursing students attending nursing schools in Louisiana, providing an opportunity to develop job-specific skills and form professional relationships with mentors and peers. These connections can help new nurses find employment and obtain professional recommendations.
- Ochsner Medical Center: Ochsner Medical Center is a 473-bed hospital in New Orleans. The hospital includes three Centers of Excellence: Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Center, Ochsner Cancer Institute, and Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute. The center has earned numerous quality awards and designations. The Women’s Pavilion offers state-of-the-art obstetric services, and Ochsner continues to break new ground in areas of in utero surgery. The center is also the first hospital in the region to offer the only FDA-approved artificial heart. Ochsner offers merit-based pay increases, tuition assistance, and bonuses for earning additional certification.
- University Medical Center-New Orleans: This academic research hospital employs more than 2,000 people, with specialized treatment offered in areas of oncology, infectious disease, heart and vascular disease, gastroenterology and urology, and behavioral health. More than 650 physicians serve the 446-bed hospital, which partners with Louisiana State University and Tulane University School of Medicine. With a focus on research and training, University Medical Center provides access to cutting-edge technology across all medical disciplines. The hospital earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation.
Additional Nursing Resources in Louisiana
Louisiana State Board of Nursing
The Louisiana State Board of Nursing grants nursing licenses and renewals, sets standards for nursing practice, ensures compliance with applicable laws, and serves as the disciplinary authority for nurses in the state. The state agency also helps promote the nursing field to attract and retain a skilled workforce. The State Board of Nursing sets minimum standards for nursing education programs in the state, maintaining a list of approved nursing schools in Louisiana.
Louisiana State Nurses Association
The Louisiana State Nurses Association offers registered nurses continuing education and networking opportunities. The organization represents all nurses, regardless of their level of education, at the state and national level and provides membership discounts for educational activities and merchandise. The annual Nightingale Awards offer professional recognition, and the yearly gala supports philanthropic efforts.
Louisiana Association of Student Nurses
Students at nursing schools in Louisiana can get involved in advocacy and service through the Louisiana Association of Student Nurses. The statewide organization provides scholarship opportunities to reward academic achievement, meet financial needs, and encourage nontraditional students studying in the field. Learners seeking an online nursing degree from one of the 21 member schools may join.
Louisiana Organization for Nurse Executives
The Louisiana Organization of Nurse Executives serves nurses in leadership and management positions. LONE, an affiliate organization of the Louisiana Hospital Association, provides leadership development opportunities, legislative advocacy, and a platform for the exchange of ideas to improve healthcare delivery. Continuing education includes instruction in management issues that nurses may not have studied while attending a nursing school in Louisiana.
Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners
The Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners promotes awareness for the recognition of nurse practitioners as primary care providers and offers networking, mentoring, and learning opportunities. The association serves the more than 2,200 nurse practitioners working in the state and provides almost $1 million worth of donated service to the state each year.
Louisiana Council of the Emergency Nurses Association
The Louisiana Emergency Nurses Association, an affiliate of the national association, works to improve public safety for patients and to promote the emergency nursing profession. LENA offers continuing education and professional learning opportunities. While registered nurses working in emergency medicine make up the majority of the association, students seeking an on-campus or online nursing degree may also join. Scholarship programs promote advanced nursing study.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing helps establish educational standards for nursing schools in Louisiana and across the county. The association also advocates for improved nursing education, research, and funding. The organization promotes diversity in the nursing profession and helps establish nurse residency programs for doctor of nursing practice candidates. AACN also operates a centralized nursing school application platform to streamline the admissions process.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Louisiana
Students seeking an online nursing degree have many options in Louisiana, including associate degrees, RN to BSN programs, and master’s degrees. The State Board of Nursing recognizes 13 associate programs and 14 BSN programs in Louisiana. Many schools have also completed voluntary accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The CCNE accredits programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, while the ACEN accredits associate through doctorate programs. The following list includes accredited online nursing schools in Louisiana.