Rhode Island needs nurses, as demand for nursing school graduates dramatically outpaces supply in the state. Aging baby boomers and a rapidly-expanding healthcare industry have put a premium on LPNs, RNs, and DNPs, and employers are paying above average salaries to attract and keep skilled nurses. Hospitals, nursing homes, family practice offices, schools, and clinics all currently need help.
How to Become a Nurse in Rhode Island
Aspiring nurses everywhere follow basically the same course to landing jobs. First comes some form of education or training – like an online nursing degree, which includes practical, hands-on work in the field. Then comes studying for licensing examinations. Everyone must pass the NCLEX exam before they can work as a nurse, even as an LPN.
Choose the Path That is Right for You
You don’t need an online nursing degree to practice in Rhode Island. LPNs can work across the state after a year of training. However, nursing is like most other occupations – with better education comes more job opportunities and better pay. The profession is split between the “practical” and “professional” levels, the difference being whether a nurse has a degree. LPNs often do not, while everyone else does. The state brims with opportunities for graduates from all levels of nursing school online in Rhode Island, from the most basic, to the master’s, up to the doctoral level. New nurses work in nursing homes with their LPN. Graduates of online RN to BSN programs in Rhode Island staff ERs and maternity wards. Online nursing degree holders teach with a master’s and provide primary-care with a DNP.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
Once you choose a path, the next step is selecting a program. With the array of nursing schools in Rhode Island, there are many options. Whether you are seeking an online BSN program in Rhode Island or want to pursue a master’s degree, you will find the proper educational opportunity. Be sure to check the prerequisites, and make sure you have met them all. Many online nursing programs in Rhode Island require not only a degree and an unrestricted license to enroll, but also at least one course in statistics. Be sure to have a thorough understanding of the requirements, such as how long the program lasts and if internships and practicums are necessary, whether you can complete them locally. Some online nursing degrees allow you to complete hands-on work at your local hospital; others require students to attend a chosen medical facility.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Once you’ve earned your degree from an online nursing program in Rhode Island, you’ll need to pass the state’s licensing exam. Some curriculums adhere very closely to exam material; others try to graduate well-rounded nurses capable of making decisions and thinking critically. Rhode Islanders must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to enter the workforce. Applicants must submit proof of attending a nursing school in Rhode Island with proof of residency, and submit to fingerprinting and a background check in order to sit for the exam.
Once you apply to the NCSBN to take the test, the state of Rhode Island determines your eligibility based upon the information submitted. The amount of preparation needed varies for every aspiring nurse based on how long it has been since you have been in school, how much experience you have in the field, and how comfortable you are taking tests. Many graduates from nursing schools in Rhode Island take at least two months to prepare. The test takes about five hours, including a computer tutorial and two 10-minute breaks.
Nursing Licensure in Rhode Island
Licensure in Rhode Island is the same as it is most anywhere. Both practical and professional nurses must pass an NCLEX exam. The NCLEX is a standardized test used nationwide to ensure nurses are ready to carry out their duties. Designed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the exam comes in two forms — LPNs sit for the NCLEX-PN test, and RNs the NCLEX-RN. LPNs must have at least one year of training to be eligible; RNs need either an associate or bachelor’s degree, like those available from online RN programs in Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, nurses must provide transcripts of their online nursing degree, proof of residency, and background check information to the state’s Department of Health. Rhode Island is a Nursing Compact State, one of 25 states where licensed nurses can freely practice without having to relicense. Once you pass your exam, you can work in half of the country without having to sit for it again.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Rhode Island
Licensing Fee $135
Background Check $35
Career Outlook for Nurses in Rhode Island
Like many other parts of the nation, it is a boom time for graduates of nursing schools in Rhode Island. According to a 2014 report by the state’s Governor’s Workforce Board — as reported by Rhode Island Public Radio — the small New England state will face nursing shortages through at least 2024. Aging baby boomers and a growing healthcare industry have increased the demand for graduates of nursing schools in Rhode Island, and there simply are not enough LPNs and RNs to go around. This is good news for new graduates holding online nursing degrees, who will face less competition for positions and higher salaries as employers scramble to fill jobs. Much of the demand, according to the study, is for entry-level nurses, but many sectors of the healthcare industry report a need for nurses.
Another state-funded report tracking the fastest-growing occupations projects that the demand for graduates of nursing schools in Rhode Island will increase by more than one-third by 2024 – with over 4,000 jobs available to RNs with at least an associate degree. Employers are willing to pay to attract help, too. Salaries for RNs are considerably higher in the Rhode Island than the national average. All of this bodes well for those holding an online nursing degree in Rhode Island.
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Biggest Hospitals in Rhode Island
Ask any recent graduate from an online nursing school where to begin looking for work, and they’ll likely refer you to a big hospital. It makes sense – large hospitals employ many nurses, and they offer great entry-level options for alumni of nursing schools in Rhode Island, often with a lot of room for advancement. Major medical centers also typically have training opportunities, and they are where many nurses turn for their practicums and internships. Cities with regional hubs are a good place to start a job search for grads with a new online nursing degree.
- Rhode Island Hospital: The single largest medical center in the state, Rhode Island Hospital is a private, nonprofit giant based in Providence. With 719 beds and a reputation as one of the best cardiac units in the nation, the Level I trauma center is part of the Lifespan Health System, which employs more than 12,000 people. Lifespan ranks among the top employers in the state in recent surveys by FlexJobs, the American Heart Association, and others. RIH is the teaching hospital for Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and it hires many graduates of online Rhode Island nursing schools.
- Miriam Hospital: Another Lifespan hospital and also affiliated with Brown University, Miriam is often rated as the best hospital in the Rhode Island in patient satisfaction surveys. Founded by Providence’s Jewish community in 1926, the big medical center is nationally recognized for its HIV/AIDS treatment, joint replacement, minimally-invasive surgeries, and preventative medical research. The hospital boasts more than 2,800 employees, almost a quarter of whom comprise the nursing staff, and scores well for employee satisfaction at GlassDoor, Indeed, and other places. It also recruits from RN programs and online MSN programs in Rhode Island.
Additional Nursing Resources in Rhode Island
Rhode Island State Nurses Association
Affiliated with the American Nurses Association, RISNA is the go-to professional organization for nurses in the state. With a wealth of continuing education, networking, informational, and career-service resources, RISNA membership is helpful for nurses of all experience levels. Nurses can get a dual membership option that also includes membership in the ANA as well.
Rhode Island Department of Health
The regulatory arm of the state government, RIDH has an array of useful tools for recent graduates of nursing schools in Rhode Island on its webpage, including licensing details, relevant statutes, continuing education, and up-to-date healthcare news.
Student Nurses Association of Rhode Island
Representing each of the nursing schools of Rhode Island, SNARI does community outreach, nursing advocacy, and leadership training. It also hosts an annual convention that is an excellent networking opportunity for young nurses.
United Nurses and Allied Professionals
The state of Rhode Island’s local union, UNAP represents more than 6,500 nurses throughout much of New England. The organization not only advocates for humane treatment for patients but also fights for improved working conditions for nurses and healthcare workers.
Organization of Nurse Leaders
An association of executive nurses, ONL is a membership organization open to nurses from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Member nurses manage more than 4,000 nurses across New England and over $1 billion annually. They host an annual conference and have a leadership academy, career center, several publications, and many services for members.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Rhode Island
Finding an excellent online nursing degree in Rhode Island is easy. Whether you are looking to begin at the base LPN level, want to climb the ladder from an RN to a BSN, or plan to attend doctoral DNP programs at the highest level, nursing schools in Rhode Island have you covered. The following database includes all fully accredited online ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP programs in Rhode Island.