Becoming an RN in Iowa
Nurses are much needed in Iowa, and it’s getting a little easier to become one. This doesn’t mean that educational standards have lessened. Quite the opposite, in fact. There is a growing movement to encourage even higher levels of scholarship. What have lessened, though, are some of the barriers that have traditionally prevented people from pursuing higher education. The state has even put together a strategic plan to use e-learning to bring nursing education to students.
- Grand Canyon University - Accredited Degrees in Nursing
- Capella University - Earn your RN-to-BSN online from Capella University
- Purdue University Global - Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees and Postgraduate Certificates in Nursing
- Liberty University - Bachelor of Science in Nursing for the Registered Nurse
- Walden University - Online Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Nursing Programs and Certificates
How do you become a registered nurse in Iowa? The first step is completion of a degree program in professional nursing. Generally, this is either an associate’s program or a bachelor of science. One Iowa institution, Luther College, does grant a bachelor’s of arts in nursing. There are many other options, but the program must be board-approved; this means that it needs to be approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing if it’s located within the state borders, or by the board of nursing in another state, if the school located elsewhere. If it’s out of state, it must be in good standing with its regulatory body. You can find NCLEX pass rates for Iowa institutions on the website of the Iowa Board of Nursing.
Graduates generally receive an application for licensure by examination. There is no time limit for taking the exam; it doesn’t matter if you graduated the previous month or several years before. Iowa is a member of the Nursing Compact. Iowa licensure will qualify you for employment in any of the twenty-four Compact states. Do be aware, however, that you will only hold one license at a time, in the state where you have your primary residence.
RN Educational Pathways
Your previous education or experiences can shorten the path. There are a number of LPN to BSN programs for those with licensing as practical nurses. There are also accelerated BSN programs for professionals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Those who have the prerequisites on their transcripts may complete a program after as little as a year of intensive study.
There are also several nursing programs in the state that build on CNA experience. Mercy College, for example, offers a course of study for students who have completed 150 hours of training as certified nursing assistants.
Nursing Career Outlook in Iowa
What is the career outlook for a new nursing graduate in Iowa? A 2010 AACN survey of deans of nursing found that 51% of nurses educated at the BSN or MSN level had job offers at graduation. This increased to 86% four to six months later. In other words, it was taking some candidates several months, but most of the new graduates were securing positions.
What factors will affect your ability to secure work after graduation? You can expect to find some variability, depending on what part of the state you live in, and what areas of nursing you have expertise in. In a 2007 report, the Iowa Department of Public Health expressed grave concern about being able to meet demands for long term care health practitioners, especially in the more rural parts of the state.
The Nursing School Application Process
Admission standards vary, but some programs have far more applicants than slots. Meeting the stated admission requirements may not be enough. The University of Iowa, for instance, requires a 3.0 in prerequisite courses, but notes that most successful candidates actually have a 3.5 or higher.
Other experiences may compensate for a less than stellar academic record. One thing that you will want to do early in your educational career is familiarize yourself with nursing organizations within the state. There are professional organizations that can help you at every stage of the path, from pre-nursing to job applications and beyond. The Iowa Board of Education lists HOSA among the organizations that not only have state and local events, but also provide networking opportunities on a national level. Some chapters involve students as young as high school.
The Iowa Nursing Association is a professional organization that provides networking and advocacy. They arrange educational events and also speak for the profession with regards to health care policy and legislation. Another good organization is the Iowa Student Nurses Association.
Associate’s Degree Nursing Programs Approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing
Des Moines Area Community College
Eastern Iowa Community College
Hawkeye Community College
Iowa Central Community College
Iowa Lakes Community College
Iowa Valley Community College District
Iowa Western Community College
Western Iowa Tech Community College
Kirkwood Community College
Northeast Iowa Community College
North Iowa Area Community College
Northwest Iowa Community College
Southeastern Community College
Southwestern Community College
BSN Programs Approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing
Briar Cliff University
Mount Mercy College
St. Ambrose University
University of Dubuque
College of Nursing
Upper Iowa University
William Penn University