It is widely known that medical professionals are some of the highest-paid and well-respected workers in the U.S. As the U.S. population grows, there is a constant demand for healthcare professionals of all backgrounds to work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and a host of other medical settings. Nursing is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing healthcare fields, and getting a degree in nursing can put you on the fast track to a great salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be 437,000 more jobs for registered nurses by 2026.
Aspiring nurses in the northwest should consider attending one of the nursing schools in Washington. Seattle is one of the the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., and a growing population typically means more jobs in the healthcare field. Registered nurses in Washington earn an average salary of $80,120 per year, well over the national average of $68,450. There are also many excellent nursing schools in Washington, especially in Spokane and the Seattle metropolitan area. Online nursing degrees allow students to earn a nursing education while working full-time or attending to other obligations. This page outlines key information on online nursing degrees and lists some of the best online nursing programs in Washington.
How to Become a Nurse in Washington
All nurses across the U.S. have to go through generally the same process to become a nurse. They must submit applications to the local nursing board, pay a fee, and take the NCLEX exam. However, each state has its own specific requirements, and Washington is no exception. Washington’s Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commision (NCQAC) requires forms and fees specific to the state of Washington. Below is the general process graduates from RN programs in Washington can expect to go through.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
Choosing the right path in nursing begins with deciding on the degree that is the best fit for you. At minimum, an associate degree in nursing is required to get a nursing license. With an ADN, you can qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for a nursing license from Washington’s Department of Health. However, a BSN is now the preferred degree for entry-level nursing and the Institute of Medicine is calling for 80 percent of nurses to hold a BSN by 2020. If you are considering an advanced nursing career such as a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist, you may want to pursue a higher level degree such as a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). An advanced degree is also necessary if you plan on teaching nursing at the college level.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
The next step is choosing a school. In your search, you will find that nursing schools in Washington vary in their formats, requirements, and length. Getting an online nursing degree is generally more flexible and affordable than attending an on-campus program. For example, earning an online nursing degree means that you will avoid costs like transportation, textbooks, and housing. Also, keep in mind that most programs–even online–require fellowships, internships, or clinicals. In terms of length, nursing programs take around two to four years, depending on the degree you choose. Online BSN programs in Washington take about four years, whereas online MSN programs in Washington take about two years. Accelerated nursing programs in Washington allow students to complete their degree in even less time.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
The NCLEX exam is the national standard for evaluating nursing candidates. All graduates of Washington nursing schools must pass it. The test costs $200, in addition to the other fees candidates must pay to Washington’s NCQAC. The test covers topics you will have learned about in nursing school, but it is a good idea to do some studying on your own. Most nursing schools in Washington inform students about the format of the exam, but more in-depth information can be found on the exam’s website. The exam lasts up to six hours. Once you pass the exam, you can begin your job search with the proper credentials.
Nursing Licensure in Washington
You only need to take one test–the NCLEX-RN exam–to become a licensed nurse in the state of Washington. All nursing students across the U.S. and Canada take the NCLEX, also known as the National Council Licensure Examination. The exam is thorough and covers topics such as psychosocial integrity and safety and infection control. Students must answer questions until a computer program can determine with 95% certainty whether they meet standards or not. To learn more about the NCLEX-RN exam, visit the Washington NCQAC’s website.
In order to qualify for the exam, candidates must prove that they have graduated from an accredited RN, BSN, LPN, or ADN program. Nurses licensed in a Nurse Licensure Compact state can practice legally in any of the other member states. Washington, however, is not a compact state, and a license from the the state of Washington is not applicable to any other states. Any nurse that receives a license in Washington and wishes to practice in another state should check that state’s guidelines for transferring a license.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Washington
App Fee $120
Career Outlook for Nurses in Washington
Healthcare and health services is the largest industry in Washington and is still growing rapidly. This not only means more jobs for doctors, dentists, and surgeons, but also a steep increase in demand for nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19.6% growth rate for registered nursing jobs in Washington by 2024.
Approximately 2,470 new nursing jobs will open each year in the state. The job growth for advanced nurses with more training is projected to be even higher. The BLS projects that over the next five years, there will be a 28% increase in the number of jobs for nurse practitioners. Considering the rapid growth of the healthcare industry in the U.S. and the state, now is an opportune time to attend nursing school online in Washington.
Employment of Registered Nurses in Washington and the U.S.
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Hospitals in Washington
Hospitals often have fellowship and internship opportunities that can help you gain practical experience while enrolled in nursing school. Large hospitals also are likely to have job openings for recent nursing graduates. Below are examples of some of the hospitals in Washington.
- Swedish Medical Center: Swedish has been serving the Washington community and beyond for over 100 years. With five hospitals, Swedish is the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in the Seattle area. In addition, Swedish has more than 100 primary care and specialty clinics in the Puget Sound area.
- Overlake Medical Center: This hospital, located in Bellevue, employs 2,500 people including about 1,000 medical staff. The facility has 349 beds and includes the first Level III Trauma Center in the area. Overlake Medical Center has achieved regional and national recognition, making it an excellent hospital to start a career in nursing.
Additional Nursing Resources in Washington
Washington State Nurses Association
This page provides information on nursing schools in Washington state, as well as on workshops and scholarships available to nursing students.
Washington Center for Nursing
The WCN provides reports on the state of nursing in Washington, as well as important information on licensing, nursing organizations, and other healthcare organizations in the state.
Nursing Students of Washington State
This organization supports students enrolled in nursing schools in Washington. The association provides resources on schools and scholarships, information about professional organizations, and an annual convention.
ARNPs United of Washington State
A professional organization dedicated to supporting local nurse practitioners, ARNPs United of Washington state regularly posts nursing job openings.
Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission
This official Washington Nursing Commission resource provides nurses access to current and past newsletters. Students at nursing schools in Washington can learn about the state of public health in the state, as well as other news pertinent to nurses.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Washington