Becoming an RN in Washington

Nursing is an evergreen profession, always in season. Professional nurses, or RNs, are in high demand within the state. How do you become one? In Washington, you achieve RN status by completing an approved program at the ADN level or higher and then taking and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Additional steps include filling out a background screening and providing evidence of having completed at least seven hours of AIDS training.

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There are many programs to select from. The Washington Center for Nursing has put together a list of thirteen questions to ask when selecting nursing programs. Candidates will want to ask about the accreditation status, the graduation and NCLEX pass rates, and the clinical sites at in which they will practice. They may also want to ask to see the simulation lab.

Realize that, although there are multiple entry points, the BSN is often the preferred level of education by many employers and professional organizations. The Institute of Medicine has set a goal of increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses to 80% by 2020. If you choose to enter the field with an associate’s, though, this doesn’t mean you have to stay at that level. You will have the opportunity to take additional coursework later and become a BSN or even an MSN.

Registered Nursing Pathways

LPNs have some additional options when it comes to RN training. Bridging programs are available online as well as at traditional institutions. If you do choose to do your RN training through a nontraditional program — i.e. a distance program not physically located within the state — you will need to do a 200 hour preceptorship supervised by a Washington RN. The hours must be spent doing duties considered to be at the RN level. Supervision and delegation are among the areas where you will need to demonstrate competency. In order to sit for NCLEX exams, you will need to forward some documents to the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. These include transcripts and verification of the preceptor’s qualifications as well as a satisfactory evaluation and a skills checklist.

There are also fast paced programs designed for second career nursing students. If you fall into this category, you can opt for either an accelerated BSN program or a direct entry master’s.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook in Washington

The Washington Center for Nursing released a report in September of 2010; it carried the headline “The Nursing Shortage is Not Over.“ The organization concedes that new nurses in some areas of the state are having trouble finding hospital positions. This is because some more experienced nurses have opted to convert to full-time status, work more shifts, and/or temporarily delay retirement. Some patients are also delaying treatments that are not critical or necessary.

However, the nursing workforce is rapidly aging. Moreover, Washington has one of the lowest rates of registered nurses in the nation. The state will need to add 400 each year to meet the national benchmark by 2020.

This means that despite difficult economic times, long term projections remain good. The Washington Center for Nursing has done extensive workforce studies. A 2006 report noted that if there were no changes in factors like graduation rate, the supply of RNs would start to dwindle in approximately 2015. The WCN offers the following advice for graduates struggling to find that first position: Join a professional organization. Stay in touch with a mentor as well as former classmates. Volunteer at community clinics, health fairs, or in the parish.

The Nursing Program Application Process

Some of that same advice will apply when you first prepare to apply for nursing school. Admission policies vary widely within the state. Realize that accelerated or graduate level programs will be highly selective, as they strive to make sure that those who enter the program have the commitment to finish. One of the requirements of the UW accelerated program is 100 hours of health care experience. (Volunteer experience does count for this.)

There are some community colleges that accept everyone who meets the basic requirements. Candidates are placed on waiting lists until there is space available. You will need to do science courses and other prerequisites before applying. In fact, you’ll want to begin the process as soon as possible in case there is an extensive wait time.

Approved ADN Programs

Bellevue Community College
Main Campus, Rm R140-A
3000 Landerholm Circle SE
Bellevue, WA 98007-6484
Phone: (425) 564-1000

Highline Community College
PO Box 98000
Des Moines, WA 98198
Phone: (206) 878-3710 Ext 3471

Shoreline Community College
Nursing Program
16101 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA98133
Phone: (206) 546-4743

Bellingham Technical College
3028 Lindburgh Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: (360) 752-7000

Lake Washington Technical College
Nursing Program
11605 132nd Avenue NE
Kirkland, WA 98034
Phone: (425) 739-8100

Skagit Valley  College – Mt Vernon
Nursing Department
2405 E. College Way
Mt Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: (360) 416-7875

Big Bend Community College
Nursing Department
7662 Chanute St.
Moses Lake, WA 98837
Phone: (509)793-2222

Lower Columbia College *
Nursing Program
1600 Maple Street
Longview,  WA  98632
Phone: (360) 442-2860

South Puget Sound Community College
School of Nursing
2011 Mottman Rd. SE
Olympia, WA 98512
Phone: (360) 768-6414

Centralia Community College
Nursing Program
600 W Locust
Centralia, WA 98531
Phone: (360) 736-9391

North Seattle Community College
Nursing Program
9600 College Way North
Seattle, WA 98103-3599
Phone: (206) 527-3600

Spokane Community College
Nursing Education
N. 1810 Greene St. MS 2090
Spokane, WA 99217
Phone: (509) 533-7000

Clark College
1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
Vancouver, WA 98663
Phone: (360) 992-2000

Olympic College
Nursing Program
1600 Chester Ave.
Bremerton, WA 98377-1699
Phone: (360) 394-2760

Tacoma Community College
Nursing Program
6501 S 19th St.
Tacoma, WA 98466
Phone: (253) 566-5000

Clover Park Technical College
Nursing Department
4500 Steilacoom Blvd. SW
Lakewood, WA 98499-4098
Phone: (253) 589-5800

Peninsula College
Nursing Program
1502 East Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: (360) 417-6455

Walla Walla Community College
Nursing Education
500 Tausick Way
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Phone: (509) 527-4240

Columbia Basin College
Nursing Program
2600 N 20th  Ave.
Pasco, WA 99301
Phone: (509) 372-7680

Pierce College – Puyallup
Nursing Program
1601 39th Avenue SE
Puyallup WA  98374-2222
Phone: (253) 864-3272

Wenatchee Valley College
Nursing Program
1300 5th Street
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Phone: (509) 682-6800

Everett Community College
Nursing Department
2000 Tower St.
Everett,  WA  98201-1327
Phone: (425) 388-9463

Renton Technical College
Nursing Program
3000 NE 4th Street
Renton, WA 98056
Phone: (425) 235-2352

Whatcom Community College
Nursing Program
237 West Kellogg Rd
Bellingham, WA 98237
Phone: (360) 676-2170

Grays Harbor Community College
Nursing Department
1620 Edward P Smith Drive
Aberdeen, WA 98520
Phone: (360) 538-4148

Seattle Central Community College
Nursing Program
1701 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122
Phone: (206) 587-4123

Yakima Valley Community College
Nursing Program
N. 16th & Nob Hill Blvd
Yakima, WA 98907-2520
Phone: (509) 574-4902


Approved BSN Programs

Seattle University College of Nursing

The Seattle University College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The BSN and MSN programs are approved by the Washington State Nursing Commission.

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN – (Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwifery, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner with Addictions focus), Post-Master’s Certificates

Seattle University College of Nursing, 901- 12th Ave., PO Box 222000, Seattle, WA 98122-1090

Gonzaga University
Dept. Of Nursing
502 E. Boone Ave.
Spokane, WA 99258-0038
Phone: (800) 986-9585

Seattle Pacific University
Lydia Green Nursing Program
3307 3rd Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: (206) 281-2233

Walla Walla College
School of Nursing
10345 SE Market St.
Portland, OR 97216
Phone: (800) 541-8900 / (503) 251-6115

Northwest University
Buntain School of Nursing
5520 108th Ave. NE
Kirkland, WA 98033
Phone: (425) 822-8266

Seattle University
College of Nursing
901-12 Ave
Seattle. WA 98122-1090
Phone: (206) 296-5600

Washington State University
Intercollegiate College of Nursing
2917 W Ft George Wright Dr
Spokane, WA 99204
Phone: (509) 358-7978

Pacific Lutheran University
School of Nursing – Ramstad 214
Tacoma, WA 98447
Phone: (253) 535-7672

University of Washington
School of Nursing
Box 357260
Seattle, WA  98195
Phone: (206) 543-8736