How to Become a Registered Nurse in Illinois
The Illinois Board of Nursing (IBON) regulates the licensing process in the state. The board sets policy and adapts regulations and continually monitors the field of nursing and identifies areas where improvements can be made. The ultimate goal is to provide the best possible nursing care for patients.
The field of nursing continues to grow and remains a strong employment prospect. Nursing opportunities will increase by 18 to 20% through the year 2020. As healthcare options expand, nursing opportunities will increase.
The IBON requires nurses to be licensed and candidates must meet certain educational requirements to qualify to take the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Nursing candidates are required to earn a minimum of an Associate’s degree in nursing from an accredited school of nursing and approved by the IBON. An Associate degree program typically takes two years to complete.
Once the nursing candidate completes an approved nursing program, the next step is to take the NCLEX-RN. Candidates must submit an application to the IBON to take the exam and then register with Pearson VUE, the exam administrator. The application to test includes a criminal background check, a fingerprint card and documentation of education. Graduates have three years to take the NCLEX-RN, and the clock starts ticking once the application is received by the IBON. Graduate nurses are not allowed to practice nursing until the exam is passed and the IBON issues an RN license. Once the application to test has been approved by the IBON, the applicant can schedule the exam with Pearson VUE.
RNs in Illinois are required to renew their license every two years. Beginning with license renewals in 2012, RNs are now required to complete 20 hours of approved continuing education hours every renewal period. RNs that hold an RN license in addition to other nursing license must renew the RN license first before renewing their other licenses.
RNs will find employment in a variety of facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted care facilities, clinics, doctors office, occupational healthcare centers, visiting nurse and hospice organizations, the American Red Cross, blood banks, seasonal retreats and educational and government facilities. Experienced RNs will also find opportunities with nursing staffing companies or nursing help hot lines.
RNs undertake a variety of tasks that are challenging and often change on a daily basis. RN’s establish patient care plans, monitor a patient’s progress, dispense medication including injections, perform diagnostic testing, dress wounds and change dressings, evaluate patients conditions, answer patients questions and make sure the patient, their families and the medical staff are all on the same page. RN’s also supervise the entire nursing staff including the certified nursing assistants (CNA).
The average RN salary is $72,000. The average starting, entry level RN salary is $47,000. RNs who take on a supervisory position such as Director of Nursing or unit manager may earn a salary close to $125,000. Salary also depends on geographic location, education, area of specialty and years of experience. RNs who work in larger cities may find the salary offerings slightly higher than other parts of the state.
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