Training to Become an RN in Pennsylvania
For anyone who finds the world of healthcare exciting and challenging will find being a registered nurse (RN) the perfect fit. The field of nursing comes with a great deal of personal satisfaction when taking care of patients. Nursing is one of the few fields in healthcare that continue to grow. Nursing opportunities are predicted to continue to expand at a rate of 26% through the year 2020. Qualified nurses are always in demand as technology and more and better healthcare options become available. The aging population experiencing greater longevity will require more healthcare for longer periods of time adding to the demand of nurses.
The process to become a registered nurse (RN) in Pennsylvania includes completing a Pennsylvania Board of Nursing (PBON) approved nursing program and sitting for the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN is a national exam and mandated by all states in the United States.
To be eligible to take the NCLEX, the RN candidate must earn at least an Associate’s degree, which takes two years to complete. Earning a Bachelor or Master’s degree will not give the candidate an advantage when taking the exam, but may provide better employment opportunities. Some RNs begin their educational trek with an Associate’s degree and pursue higher nursing education while being employed as an RN. It is important to keep in mind if the goal is to pursue advanced nursing practice, RNs will be required to earn a Master’s degree in the area of specialty.
After graduation from the approved program, the next step is to apply to take the NCLEX-RN. The application includes a criminal background check and fingerprint card, a photograph no more than six months old at the time of application, a certificate of completion and an official transcript sent from the nursing school to the PBON. The applicant must also register with Pearson VUE Testing Service to take the exam.
The PBON will review the application to test and when the application is approved, the applicant will receive an authorization to test (ATT). The applicant then schedules a date to take the exam. Pearson VUW will notify PBON within 24 to 48 hours of the exam results and the PBON will issue an RN license to those who pass and an application to take the test again to those who fail the exam. Applicants who fail the exam may retake the exam after a 45 day waiting period. Graduates have up to one year from the date of graduation to take the exam.
Once licensed, RNs are required to renew their license every two years according to the expiration date on their license. Licenses expire on 30 April and 31 October. To qualify for renewal, RNs must complete 30 hours of PBON approved continuing education hours. RNs are not required to provide documentation of the completion of the hours, but the PBON randomly audits 30% of the renewals every cycle. The RN will receive notification 90 days in advance of the audit and must submit the required documentation to the board. RNs, who do comply with the audit, may have their licensed suspended until such time the required information is submitted.
RNs will find the annual average salary to be $70,285 and an average entry level salary of $45,500.Actual salary will vary on the type of facility where employed, years of experience, level of education achieved, area of specialty and level of responsibility. RNs will also find the actual salary will depend on geographic location and salaries will be higher in metropolitan areas than in suburban and rural areas.
Nursing employment can be found at a variety of facilities including nursing homes, hospitals, educational facilities, occupational healthcare centers, assisted care facilities and rehabilitative centers. RN positions can also be found with visiting nurse and hospice organizations, traveling nurse and temporary staffing agencies, professional and amateur sports organizations and recreational and vacation venues.
Schools With RN Programs in Pennsylvania
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