Becoming an RN in Wisconsin

In May of 2011, Wisconsin’s nursing organizations held an exciting summit: “The IOM Report: Building the Future of Nursing in Wisconsin”. IOM goals include increasing the education level of nurses, and helping them practice to the extent that their education allows.

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How can you help build Wisconsin’s future? You can enter the health care field or, if you’re already there, you can take your education to the next level. Registered Nurses usually enter the field with an ADN or BSN degree, though second degree students sometimes enter with a master’s. Nationwide, there is a push toward higher levels of education for professional nurses. Wisconsin is somewhat ahead of the norm, having more state-approved BSN programs than ADN ones.

Nurses who want to enter the workforce quickly do have the option of completing an associate’s degree in nursing now and enrolling in a BSN completion program (RN to BSN) later. BSN students typically spend the first two years doing general studies and prerequisites. Prerequisites include rigorous physical and life science courses. Math aptitude is expected. During the final years of the programs, students complete clinical rotations in health care facilities.

Before licensure, graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. It is also an option to work under a temporary permit for up to three months in Wisconsin. This ceases to be an option if a person fails the exam even once. The Wisconsin Board of Nursing does recommend that students take the licensing exam soon after graduation.

RN Entry Pathways

Your previous experiences may help you fast track your nursing education. If you have a bachelor’s in any field, you can enroll in an accelerated second degree nursing program. A CNA license may be required as well. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, for example, requires certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and prefers, but does not mandate, work experience as a CNA. It is one of only a few programs in the nation that can even be loosely termed CNA to RN. Part of the rationale is that the CNA program itself provides students with experiences they need to go through an accelerated one-year program. Students should be aware that, although most of the program is completed online, the first clinical rotation is done in Oshkosh and requires two weeks on-site.

If you are already licensed as an LPN, you can opt for an LPN to RN bridge program. No other degree is necessary to enroll.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook in Wisconsin

Nationwide, there has been a temporary slowing of hiring due to the recession. Some nurses have chosen to increase the number of shifts they work while others have delayed retirement. Wisconsin will need many new nurses over the coming years, though, due in part to a rapidly aging nursing workforce. 19% growth was projected for the 2008 to 2018 decade. An AACN survey of BSN and entry-level MSN programs reported that 73% of Wisconsin nursing students had a job offer upon graduation. 91% did four to six months later.

As workforce demographics change, Wisconsin will be well prepared to plan for them and to issue reports. 2009 legislation requires nurses to fill out a survey when renewing their license.

Nursing School Application Process

Nursing programs vary in their admission standards. Some programs are highly selective. One example is the accelerated bachelors to BSN program at Oshkosh. Candidates will be screened on the basis of TEAS scores, recommendations, and work experience. They should be prepared for an internet interview, and possibly a phone interview as well.

At the ADN level, the process is a little less involved, but academic standards are still high. There may be prerequisite courses in biology and other sciences. Some schools give greater weight to biology scores than to scores in other subjects. If you get a B or higher in courses in anatomy and physiology, you may be given priority over students who don’t. Some Wisconsin schools do ask you to write an essay as part of the application process. Surprisingly, you may have to do it right there.

Approved ADN Programs in Wisconsin

Bryant and Stratton College
10950 W. Potter Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226

Cardinal Stritch University
6801 N. Yates Road
Milwaukee, WI 53217

Chippewa Valley Technical College
620 W Clairemont Ave Eau Claire, WI 54701

College of Menominee Nation
Keshena, WI 54135

Blackhawk Technical College
PN/Associate Degree
Janesville, WI
PH: 608-757-7678

Gateway Technical College
Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties, Wisconsin

Herzing University Madison
5218 East Terrace Drive
Madison, WI 53718


Fox Valley Technical College
1825 N. Bluemound Drive
P.O. Box 2277
Appleton, WI 54912-2277


Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College
Hayward, WI
PH: (715) 634-4790 x170

Lakeshore Technical College
1290 North Avenue
Cleveland, Wisconsin 53015

Madison Area Technical College
3550 Anderson Street, Madison, WI 53704
608- 258-2479

Mid-State Technical College
500 – 32nd Street North
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494

Milwaukee Area Technical College
Downtown Milwaukee (day program): 414-297-MATC
Mequon (day program): 262-238-2300

Moraine Park Technical College
West Bend, WI

Nicolet Area Technical College
5364 College Drive, Rhinelander, WI 54501

Northcentral Technical College
1000 W. Campus Drive
Wausau, WI 54401

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
2740 West Mason St, Green Bay, WI 54307-9042

Rasmussen College
Green Bay, WI
PH: (920) 593-8400

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
1800 Bronson Blvd.
Fennimore, WI 53809

Waukesha County Technical College
800 Main St.
Pewaukee, WI 53072 (USA)

Western Technical College
400 Seventh Street North
La Crosse, WI 54601

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
505 Pine Ridge Drive ~ Shell Lake, WI 54871
Offered @: Ashland, New Richmond, Rice Lake, and Superior campuses

Approved BSN Programs in Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

School branding

The nursing programs are CCNE accredited.

Programs Offered: RN-to-BSN, BSN, RN-to-MSN, MSN, MSN/MBA, Post-Master’s Certificate, BSN-to-PhD, DNP. Specialty areas for applicants of all Masters programs: Adult CNS, Community Health CNS, Family NP, Health Professional Education Certificate, Maternal/Child Health CNS, Nursing Systems CNS, Psych/Mental Health CNS

Alverno College
3400 S. 43rd Street
P.O. Box 343922
Milwaukee, WI 53234-3922

Bellin College of Nursing
725 S. Webster Avenue

Green Bay, WI

Carroll University
100 N. East Ave.
Waukesha, Wisconsin 53186

Columbia College of Nursing/Mount Mary
2121 E. Newport Avenue
Milwaukee, WI, 53211-2952

Concordia University Wisconsin
12800 N. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon, WI 53097

Edgewood College
1000 Edgewood College Drive
Madison, WI 53711

Maranatha Baptist Bible College
745 West Main Street
Watertown, WI 53094

Marian University
45 S. National Ave.
Fond du Lac, WI 54935-4699

Marquette University College of Nursing
Clark Hall
530 N. 16th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Milwaukee School of Engineering
1025 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3109

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Department of Nursing
Nursing Rm 101
105 Garfield Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004

University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing
Clinical Science Center
600 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53792-2455

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413 414-229-1122

The University Of Wisconsin Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Viterbo University
900 Viterbo Drive
La Crosse, WI 54601