Becoming an RN in Tennessee

If you have the dedication and aptitude to become a professional nurse, Tennessee can use your services. You can become a registered nurse by completing an approved degree program. Usually this is at the associate’s or baccalaureate level, though students with a previous degree in another field sometimes do their initial program at the master’s level (Direct-Entry Master’s in Nursing).

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As a prospective RN, you will have a number of program options. How do you decide which type of program to apply to? The baccalaureate degree, or BSN, is becoming the preferred degree at the national level. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in fact, has set a goal of having 80% of Nurses prepared at the BSN level by 2020. This is because studies have linked better patient outcomes with higher education.

The ADN, of course, can offer a swifter entry into the workforce. If you are interested in completing a four-year degree, it doesn’t necessarily have to be done all at once. The Tennessee Board notes a sharp increase in the percentage of students seeking RN to BSN mobility in recent years.

Whichever degree you seek for initial licensure, you will take the same exam: the NCLEX-RN.

Registered Nursing Education Options in Tennessee

There are additional options for people who already have a degree in another field. One option is the accelerated BSN, or second bachelor’s. These programs report a very high retention rate — higher than for ADN or standard BSN programs. The curriculum may be fast-paced, but second career professionals are used to high demands that don’t end in the summer months. Another option for a post-baccalaureate student is the direct-entry master’s. Tennessee boasts three in-state programs.

If you are already licensed as an LPN, you will have the opportunity to taker a shorter bridging program. Here again, you will have a number of different programs to choose from. The Tennessee Board lists 13 LPN to associate’s programs and nine LPN to BSN programs (with two more on the way).

Tennessee is just beginning to offer bridging programs for other health professionals. Chattanooga offers a paramedic to RN bridge program. Students complete a seven-unit transition program; this allows them to get credit for two semesters of nursing coursework. They must also take the typical nursing prerequisites such as psychology, anatomy and physiology, and human growth and development.

The Tennessee Board reports that a corpsmen/ medic to RN program is also under development within the state.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook

Nursing is affected, to some degree, by recession. Nurses sometimes have spouses who lose their jobs; for this reason, they may choose to re-enter the workforce or add shifts. However, long term, demographics are a better indicator of the need for new nurses. Nearly 40% of the RN workforce in Tennessee is above 50. That means that many nurses will be retiring in the coming years.

Tennessee is concerned about having an adequate supply of professional nurses. The Center for Nursing reported that in 2008, the RN vacancy rate was approximately 7% in both the hospital and home health sectors. In nursing homes, it was somewhat lower: 4.2%. Even in difficult times, there are jobs to be had.

The Application Process

Tennessee nursing schools are limited with regards to faculty, classroom space, and other resources. The state is working to increase capacity; still, some students who do meet the minimum stated requirements are turned away. Candidates should realize that more ADN programs turn away qualified applicants than either BSN or MSN programs. In the 2008 to 2009 school year, 14 of 15 ADN programs reported turning away qualified applicants while only 13 of 28 BSN programs did. Candidates should be aware that while community colleges may have lower stated requirements, it is often necessary to exceed them to actually get a spot.

University-based programs typically have higher academic standards. In many, though not all, cases, it’s enough just to meet them. Do be prepared to write a thoughtful essay or personal statement. In some cases, an interview may be required a well.

ADN Programs in Tennessee

Aquinas College
4210 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205
Chattanooga State Technical Community College
4501 Amnicola Hwy.
Chattanooga, TN 37406
Cleveland State Community College
3535 Adkisson Drive, P.O. Box 3570
Cleveland, TN 37320-3570
Columbia State Community College
1665 Hampshire Pike
Columbia, TN 38401
Dyersburg State Community College
1510 Lake Road
Dyersburg, TN 38024
731- 286-3390
Freed-Hardeman University
158 East Main Street
Henderson, TN 38340
Jackson State Community College
2046 North Parkway
Jackson, TN 38301-3797
731- 425-2622
Lincoln Memorial University
6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752
800-325-0900 ext. 6324
Motlow State Community College
6015 Ledford Mills Rd., P.O. Box 8500
Lynchburg, TN 37352-8500
Northeast State Technical Community College
2425 Highway 75, P. O. Box 246
Blountville, TN 37617-0246
Roane State Community College
276 Patton Lane
Harriman, TN 37748
Southern Adventist University
P.O. Box 370; 5010 University Dr.
Collegedale, TN 37315
Southwest Tennessee Community College
301 Walnut Street
Memphis, TN 38126
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37209-1561
Walters State Community College
500 S. Davy Crockett Parkway
Morristown, TN 37813

(Source: Tennessee Board of Nursing)

BSN Programs Approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing

Belmont University School of Nursing

Belmont University School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The BSN and MSN programs are approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing.

Programs Offered: BSN, Accelerated BSN, MSN – (Tracks: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator), Post-Master’s Certificate – (Options: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator)

Belmont University School of Nursing, 1900 Belmont Blvd, Nashville, TN 37212-3757

South College – BSN Program

South College is located in Knoxville, TN. They offer a BSN program accredited by the NLNAC and approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing.

Austin Peay State University
P.O. Box 4658; 681 Summer St.
Clarksville, TN 37040
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences
1003 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
Belmont University
1900 Belmont Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37212-3757
Bethel University
325 Cherry Avenue
McKenzie, TN 38201
Carson-Newman College
1646 Russell Avenue
Jefferson City, TN 37760
Cumberland University
One Cumberland Square
Lebanon, TN 37087
East Tennessee State University
P.O. Box 70617
Johnson City, TN 37614
Fisk University –
Vanderbilt Partnership Program
1000 17th Avenue North, 319 Dubois Hall
Nashville, TN 37208-3051
King College
1350 King College Road
Bristol, TN 37620
Lincoln Memorial University
6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752
800-325-0900 ext. 6324
Lipscomb University – Vanderbilt Nursing Partnership Program
One University Park Drive
Nashville, TN 37204-3951
Martin Methodist College
433 West Madison Street
Pulaski, TN 38478
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Milligan College
P. O. Box 500
Milligan College, TN 37682
South College

3904 Lomas Drive
Knoxville, TN 37909
Southern Adventist University
P.O. Box 370; 5010 University Dr.
Collegedale, TN 37315
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37209-1561
Tennessee Technological University
805 Quadrangle Drive
Cookeville, TN 38505
Tennessee Weslyan College
9821 Cogdill Road, Suite 2
Knoxville, TN 37932
Trevecca Nazarene University- Belmont Partnership Program

333 Murfreesboro Road
Nashville, TN 37210-2877
Union University
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, TN 38305
University of Memphis
610 Goodman, Newport 100
Memphis, TN 38152
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37403
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville
1200 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996
The University of Tennessee at Martin
538 University Street, Gooch Hall 136
Martin, TN 38238
731- 881-7138
The University of Tennessee
Health Science Center
College of Nursing
877 Madison Avenue, Suite 620
Memphis, TN 38163