As the U.S. population ages, the demand for nursing professionals and qualified healthcare workers is certain to grow. The baby boomer generation’s transition into retirement is a watershed moment that the healthcare industry has been anticipating and preparing for. Many schools have adapted their academic programs to offer hybrid and online nursing degrees to meet this demand for skilled nurses. There are many nursing schools in North Carolina that offer ADN, RN to BSN, MSN, and even DNP options online.
There are already 3 million registered nurses in the country and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the nursing workforce will grow 15% by 2026. One factor that contributes to this rapid rate of expansion is the retirement of older RNs, creating more opportunities for new nurses. That said, the BLS also projects that the supply of qualified nurses will also increase in the coming years, creating a competitive field. An online nursing degree that leads to a BSN or advanced degree is ideal for those who want to pursue administrative roles and teaching positions in this field.
How to Become a Nurse in North Carolina
You’ll need to gain a nursing license to become a nurse in North Carolina. The process is similar to the process used in other states with three potential paths to licensure: nursing diploma, associate degree, or BSN. All first-time LPN and RN licensees must pass the NCLEX, a standardized exam that determines if a nursing candidate is qualified to enter the field. The practice of nursing in North Carolina is regulated by the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
Choose the Path That's Right for you
The online nursing degree you choose will largely depend on your career goals. To practice nursing in North Carolina, you will at least need an ADN or nursing diploma. However, you may want to earn a BSN or MSN if you want to work in a specialized area of the field. If you want to teach nursing one day, then you should set your sights on a DNP or nursing PhD. You can earn a BSN at any point during your career. For example, most online RN to BSN programs in North Carolina allow you to earn your degree in just two years while continuing to work full-time.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
Many nursing programs in North Carolina have take full advantage of technological advancements that make it possible to offer distance learning programs. Accelerated nursing programs in North Carolina allow aspiring nurses to earn an ADN in just two years, or a BSN in four years. Online programs also allow students to enroll in nursing programs outside of their geographical area. No longer are students bound by geography, even for a degree in which clinicals are part of the curriculum. Proctored exams, local internships, and asynchronous learning make it possible for future RNs to pursue online nursing degrees in a manner that best suits their personal schedule and life commitments.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
North Carolina nursing schools prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination. However, due to the $200 cost of taking the exam, many students pursue additional forms of study to ensure that they are fully prepared. Students have five hours to complete the multiple-choice test that includes 75-265 questions. After the first 75 questions are answered, a score is calculated on a pass or fail basis. If the computer can not determine an answer, then you will need to continue answering questions until a definitive score returns.
Nursing Licensure in North Carolina
Guided by the Nursing Practice Act, the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON) requires licensure “to ensure minimum standards of competency and to provide the public safe nursing care.” To qualify for the NCLEX-RN, you will need at minimum a nursing diploma, an ADN, or a BSN, and to obtain an Authorization to Test. The test is broken down into four major client needs categories: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.
NCBON does not limit the number of times you can take the exam, but you must wait 45 days between attempts of the same test. This waiting period is waived if you wish to take the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN successively. There is also a mandatory criminal background check.
You can earn your online nursing degree from one of the nursing schools in North Carolina or from another Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state. As an NLC member, North Carolina recognizes multistate licensure. If you have passed the NCLEX-RN already in another NLC state, then you can apply for a license by endorsement with NCBON for only $150. Note that the license must be notarized. Currently, there are 26 NLC states, including the North Carolina border states of Tennessee, Virginia, and South Carolina.
Nursing Licensing Costs in North Carolina
Career Outlook for Nurses in North Carolina
As of May 2016, North Carolina had over 99,000 registered nurses, with the annual mean salary for this group rounding out at $61,330. According to BLS, North Carolina offers the best job prospects for nursing professionals in the region, employing more RNs than Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, or South Carolina. Many nursing schools in North Carolina, such as UNC’s School of Nursing, have enrolled a greater number of nursing students in recent years thanks to new online RN programs. In North Carolina, the location quotient for nurses also ranks above the national average at 1.15.
While hospitals are still the main employer of registered nurses, graduates can also gain employment at long-term care facilities and outpatient care centers. North Carolina boasts the third and fifth highest-concentrated metropolitan areas for RNs in the country. Greenville is third with a location quotient of 2.48, while Durham-Chapel Hill is fifth and employs 13,070 nurses alone. What’s more, Piedmont has the highest employment of RNs of any nonmetropolitan area in the United States.
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Biggest Hospitals in North Carolina
State, local, and private hospitals account for 61% of all nurse employment in the U.S., followed by ambulatory healthcare services at 18%. The presence of bigger hospitals in a state translates to more opportunities for nursing professionals and are naturally the first places that graduates look for employment; hospitals are also many students’ first choices for fellowships and internships. Several nursing schools in North Carolina have partnerships with area hospitals, such as the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and Vidant Health. Charlotte is the city with the most hospitals in the state with seven.
- Duke University Medical Center: This is the flagship teaching hospital of the Duke University Health System that boasts more than 10,800 full-time employees. In FY17, the Durham-based hospital admitted 42,609 patients and serviced 1,085,740 outpatient visits. It has 940-plus hospital beds and 59 operating rooms and is equipped to receive Level I trauma cases.
- Vidant Medical Center: This hospital is the flagship of Vidant Health and boasts 900-plus hospital beds and 35 operating rooms, providing patient care to 29 counties in eastern North Carolina. In 2013, Vidant Medical Center, which employs a workforce of 7,000, received Magnet designation for nursing excellence.
Additional Nursing Resources in North Carolina
North Carolina Nurses Association
This ANA affiliate helps graduates of nursing schools in North Carolina thrive in their nursing careers by providing networking opportunities, mentorships, and continuing education. NCNA helps nurses, many of whom may have graduated from online nursing degree programs, remain on the cutting edge of the latest industry developments and innovations.
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
The North Carolina chapter of NAPNAP is a national advocate for child health and advanced nursing practice. NAPNAP is amplifies the voice of several outreach efforts and promotes optimal health for children.
North Carolina Association of Nursing Students
This is a student branch of the North Carolina Nurses Association that helps new nurses transition from nursing school in North Carolina to full-time careers. NCANS remains a fixture for all nursing students, from those who earn an online nursing degree to those who choose to pursue a diploma, ADN, or BSN program in North Carolina.
Area Health Education Centers in North Carolina
NC AHEC works with nursing students and nursing schools in North Carolina to support improvement and innovation in healthcare education and services in the region, especially for underserved populations. It was established in 1972 in partnership with the UNC-CH School of Medicine and is responsible for tripling the number of AHECs in the state in just three years.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in North Carolina
If you’re interested in an online nursing degree, then you should start by taking a comprehensive look at all of the available options. The following database includes information on all of the ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN and DNP online nursing programs in North Carolina. This tool can help you compare your options and choose the right school based on your long-term career goals.