Becoming an RN in South Dakota

South Dakota’s professional nurses begin their journey by selecting an associate’s or baccalaureate degree program. Often this means enrolling as a pre-nursing major while completing general education classes and program-specific prerequisites. Typical prerequisites include anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and nutrition. Successful performance in these classes can help a candidate earn herself a spot in the clinical program.

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As candidates progress through their clinical coursework, they become adept at medical and surgical nursing, maternal care, pediatrics, and mental health nursing. They do rotations in different health care settings under the guidance of a preceptor.

South Dakota has multiple RN programs at both the ADN and BSN levels. Nursing school graduates who have completed similar programs in other municipalities are also eligible for licensure. There may, however, be some additional steps. Foreign applicants must have their credentials reviewed and certified by CGFNS.

Licensure also requires a background check. The last step of the process is passing the NCLEX-RN. Candidates may apply for a temporary license in South Dakota while waiting for NCLEX results. It is good for ninety days unless the applicant fails the examination on a first attempt.

Registered Nurse Education Pathways in South Dakota

Degree programs are available at different levels. How does a candidate choose? The BSN may well be the degree of the future. There is a growing consensus that the number of BSN prepared nurses needs to increase; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has set an ambitious goal of 80% by 2020. South Dakota may not be there yet, but the state is ahead of many others. 54% of new RNs in 2008 graduated with a BSN degree. The ADN, of course, can allow a nurse to enter the workforce sooner. There are many ADN to BSN degree completion programs. Some can even be completed online.

There are also a number of programs designed to help licensed practical nurses move up the career ladder. A candidate can choose either an LPN to ADN or LPN to BSN track. Some prerequisite classes may also be available through nontraditional avenues, such as the CLEP or Dantes exams.

Second degree students can also fast track their nursing careers by enrolling in an accelerated BSN program. There is currently one in-state program, at South Dakota State University in Sioux Falls.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook in South Dakota

Although the nursing profession is not immune to recession, job prospects remain better than in many other fields. Nationwide, health care jobs have been on the increase in 2011. A 2009 report by the South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce estimated that by 2016, South Dakota schools would need to graduate 789 professional nursing students each year, an increase from the 688 they averaged during the years 2006 to 2008.

Job prospects are better in some regions of the state than others. Statewide, there was a 6.5% vacancy rate in 2008 — up slightly from the previous two years. 155 facilities reported some difficulty filling registered nursing positions. Vacancy rates were higher in rural and ultra-rural frontier counties than metropolitan ones. In these regions, the vacancy rate was 8.7%.

Applying to Nursing Schools in South Dakota

South Dakota is not producing quite enough new graduates each year to meet demand, yet some qualified applicants are still turned away. Why? Nursing school capacity has expanded in the past decade, but it’s not quite at the level it needs to be.

This doesn’t mean it’s a matter of luck whether you get in. A qualified applicant is one who meets stated requirements. Schools often have a selective process, however, whereby only the most qualified candidates actually get in. At the University of South Dakota, for example, students are assessed on the basis of numerous factors: grades, college entrance exams, assessment exams, positive references and previous health care experience.

ADN Programs in South Dakota

University of South Dakota
414 E. Clark Street
Julian 212
Vermillion, SD 57069
PH: 605-677-5251
Also Offered @ 4 outreach campuses in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown

Dakota Wesleyan University
1200 W. University Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301
PH: 800-333-8506
Also offered @ Huron Campus

Presentation College
1500 N. Main Street
Aberdeen, SD 57401
PH: 800-437-6060
Also offered @ Eagle Butte

Oglala Lakota College

3 Mile Creek Road
PO Box 490
Kyle, SD 57752-0310
PH: 605-455-6000

BSN Programs in South Dakota

Mount Marty College
1105 W 8TH Street
Yankton, SD 57078
PH: 800-658-4552
NLNAC accredited

South Dakota State University
Brookings, SD 57007
PH: 800-952-3541
CCNE Accredited
Also offered @ Rapid City Campus

Augustana College
2001 S. Summit Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD 57197
PH: 605-274-4721
CCNE accredited

Presentation College
1500 N. Main Street
Aberdeen, SD 5740
PH: 800-437-6060