How to Become a Registered Nurse in South Carolina
Nursing careers are the ideal choice for anyone who has a passion for healthcare and the desire to take care of patients in various stages of health. Being a nurse is challenging, but brings many personal rewards. The opportunities for qualified registered nurses (RN) are expanding and will continue to thrive at an aggressive pace through the year 2020. Since nursing is based on the concept of patient care, it is the one area of healthcare that continues to thrive. The longevity of the aging population and advancement in healthcare options, including home care, is largely responsible for the additional opportunities in nursing.
The South Carolina Board of Nursing (SCBON) regulates the field of nursing in the state, including licensing and license renewals. The SCBON of nursing also approves nursing programs and recommends upgraded changes to meet the current demands of nursing.
To become an RN in South Carolina, candidates must complete at least an Associate’s degree in an approved nursing program from an accredited college or university. An Associate’s degree typically takes two years to complete. Nursing graduates may experience better and more profitable nursing opportunities with a Bachelor’s or Masters degree. AN RN candidate with an Associate’s degree who was employed as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), will find greater opportunities than an RN with an Associate’s degree and no other healthcare background.
The nursing graduate is required to take the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as a nurse. When the educational requirements have been completed, the candidate is required to apply to the SCBON to take the NCLEX. The application to test includes a criminal background and fingerprint check, a 2”x2” passport type photograph signed and dated, copy of a birth certificate and the appropriate fee. The applicant is also required to register with Pearson VUE Testing Services, the exam administrator. The Board will review the application and when it is determined to be complete, the applicant will be issued an authorization to test (ATT) and directed to schedule a date to take the exam. It is important to note South Carolina is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact and to take the NCLEX exam, applicants must be residents of the state.
On the day of the exam, the applicant must provide the ATT and a valid form of identification to enter the testing site. Applicants will be notified of the exam results, and results are delivered as pass or fail, and if the applicant passes the exam an RN license will be issued. If the applicant does not pass the exam, the applicant will receive an application to take the test again. Applicants must observe a 45 day waiting period before the exam can be taken again. Applicants may take the exam every 45 days for up to a year.
Once licensed, RNs are required to renew their license every two years. Licenses expire every 30 April and must be renewed by the expiration date in order to remain active. A courtesy reminder will be sent to the RN 60 days prior to expiration, but not receiving the reminder does not excuse the RN from renewing their license in a timely manner. RNs are also required to meet one of the the renewal requirements which include completion of 30 approved contact hours provided by the board, maintaining a certification or re-certification by a national board, completion of an academic program in nursing or a related field or verification of competency and the number of hours practiced as certified by an employer.
The average RN salary in South Carolina is $62,000 annually. The average RN entry level salary for nursing graduates with little or no nursing experience is $42,000. RNs who reach a level of responsibility through years of experience or educational background may find an average salary of $98,000. Actual salary will often depend on type of facility where employed, geographic location, years of experience and nursing specialty if the RN so chooses to specialize.
RNs will find employment in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted care facilities, occupational healthcare centers, rehabilitative centers, schools, government facilities, sports leagues, visiting nurse and hospice organizations, private duty care, seasonal and recreational vacation venues, blood collection centers and insurance companies evaluating medical claims.
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