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Becoming an RN in Alaska

Rural states often have a high demand for nurses who have several years of professional education. Here Alaska is no exception. How does a person become a registered nurse in the state? The process involves completing a degree program and then taking the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. A student can expect to begin his or her studies as a nursing pre-major and apply to the nursing school after taking prerequisite courses. The clinical portion includes classes in psychiatric health, pediatrics, and perinatal nursing as well as adult medical/ surgical nursing. A BSN student can also expect more advanced nursing courses in areas like nursing management and complex care. Baccalaureate students also take more general studies courses. The additional coursework is not necessary for passing the NCLEX or earning licensure, it can help a nurse move up to more advanced positions, however.

Alaska has one board-approved professional nursing school, the University of Alaska. UA nursing programs incorporate distance learning to accommodate prospective nurses from around the state. LPNs and second degree professionals may have additional options for enrolling in distance learning programs through institutions in other states.

Graduates of board-approved nursing programs in other nations are also eligible to apply. However, foreign applicants have a few additional steps. They need to have their credentials reviewed by CGFS, and also pass an English proficiency exam. (This requirement applies to nurses educated in Quebec, but those educated in other Canadian providences are exempt.)

Registered Nursing Pre-Licensure Education Pathways

Licensed practical nurses have a quicker route to licensing in Alaska. They may enroll in an LPN to RN course and complete it in about eighteen months.

Some professionals across the nation choose to enroll in accelerated second degree BSN programs. Alaska does not have an accelerated option, though there are a limited number of online programs around the country, at schools like the University of Wisconsin. Prospective candidates should realize that the admission process is selective, but should not worry that geographic distance will exclude them.

If a professional chooses to take the standard BSN program at the University of Alaska, they can expect to get credit for general studies courses that they have already taken.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook in Alaska

Alaska periodically surveys RNs who are renewing their licenses. The results indicate that there could be even more recruitment issues in the future. The Board is noticing that the average age is increasing. The 2008 survey found that there were more RNs in Alaska who were 61 or older than there were RNs in the 21 to 30 age group. What this means is that the coming years will see many retirements. More than 17% of registered nurses reported that they planned to leave the profession within five years.

The Nursing School Application Process

Candidates can expect a competitive process even at the ADN level. They are judged on the basis of reference letters as well as academic performance. Associate’s level students at the University of Alaska take an entrance exam (the PAX-RN).

Some out-on-state programs (for example, second degree BSN programs) include essays and interviews. You may be asked why you chose the nursing profession or how you can make a difference. If you’re applying for a program that is not available in your state, let your passion shine through.

If you are a Native Alaskan, know that your services are particularly sought after. States around the nation are concerned that the health care workforce is not representative of the populations they serve.

Alaska Board of Nursing Approved Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs

University of Alaska - Anchorage

Programs Offered: AAS or BSN

3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508-8030
Telephone: (907) 786-4550
FAX: (907) 786-4559

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