How to Become an RN in Massachusetts
Becoming a registered nurse (RN) in Massachusetts takes dedication, discipline and the desire to help others. RNs are required to complete an approved nursing program and pass the state mandated National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before being employed as a registered nurse.
RNs must acquire at least an Associate’s degree in order to take the NCLEX-RN exam, but an RN with just an Associate’s degree will have a difficult time finding an entry level position without experience as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or licensed practical nurse (LNP). Nursing students who complete a nursing program that results in a diploma or certificate will not be allowed to take the NCLEX-RN. Many RNs often bypass the Associate’s degree and take on the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree program.
Nursing programs must be accredited and approved by the Massachusetts Board of Nursing (MBON). In Massachusetts, there are 22 schools that offer Associate’s degrees and 20 schools that offer Bachelor’s degree, 14 schools that offer a Master’s degree and 7 schools that offer a Doctoral degree in nursing.
The average salary for an RN in Massachusetts is $76,000. Salary depends on education, nursing specialty, years of experience, level of responsibility, geographic location and type of facility where employed. Salaries will be found to be higher in and around major metropolitan areas than in less populated suburban and urban areas. The average starting salary for a nurse is $58,000 and the maximum end of the pay scale is about $110,000. The average salary for an RN in the city of Boston is $94,000 and the maximum end of the pay scale is $141,000.
An RN takes on a variety of duties, and duties will vary depending on the facility where employed, but typical duties include supervising licensed practical nurses (LPN) and certified nursing assistants (CNA), perform diagnostic testing, treating medical emergencies, establish treatment plans, observe and record patient behavior, operate medical equipment and dispense medication. RNs may also become director of nursing and supervise the entire nursing staff or become a nursing instructor. RNs find employment in nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, visiting nurse and hospice organizations, vacation organizations, private duty care, correctional facilities and schools and government institutions.
Nurses in Massachusetts are licensed by the MBON and the license must be valid in order to work. Currently, there are more than 135,000 active nursing licensees in Massachusetts and of those 118,000 are RNs. Massachusetts is not a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact and nurses licensed in other states must apply for a Massachusetts Nursing license by endorsement.
Upon graduation, graduates must apply to take the NCLEX-RN. The application to test is submitted to the MBON, and the exam is administered by Pearson VUE. 90.5% of RN candidates pass the NCLEX-RN the first time. There is an application fee paid to the MBON and an exam fee paid to Pearson VUE. The application submitted to the MBON includes education verification, criminal background check, fingerprint card, documentation of identification and a passport type photograph. The graduate should also apply to Pearson VUE at the same time. When the MBON approves the application, the graduate is issued an authorization to test (ATT). The graduate will have 45 days to take the exam and the clock starts ticking the day the ATT is issued. The graduate can take the exam at any one of the testing centers in the Commonwealth, or if a testing center in another state is a more convenient location, the graduate may opt for that location.
RNs are required to renew their license every two years and licenses expire on the RNs birthday of the even year. There is an additional fee added to the total charge if the application is received after the official renewal date.
RN Degree Programs in Massachusetts
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- Medical Assistant
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- Practical Nurse (LPN)-CERT
- Clinical Medical Assistant-CERT