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.
- Earn your RN-to-BSN online from Capella University
- Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees and Postgraduate Certificates in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing for the Registered Nurse
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
Highline Community College
Shoreline Community College
Bellingham Technical College
Lake Washington Technical College
Skagit Valley College – Mt Vernon
Big Bend Community College
Lower Columbia College *
South Puget Sound Community College
Centralia Community College
North Seattle Community College
Spokane Community College
Tacoma Community College
Clover Park Technical College
Walla Walla Community College
Columbia Basin College
Pierce College – Puyallup
Wenatchee Valley College
Everett Community College
Renton Technical College
Whatcom Community College
Grays Harbor Community College
Seattle Central Community College
Yakima Valley Community College
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
Seattle Pacific University
Walla Walla College
Washington State University
Pacific Lutheran University
University of Washington