RN Career Paths in Nebraska: Becoming an RN
The Nebraska Center for Nursing has provided materials to help children begin to think about the nursing profession as early as elementary school. They have good reason. The state will need a lot of nurses now and in the years and decades to come.
Registered nurses have a lot to offer – and a lot to gain as well. The Nebraska Center for Nursing provided an RN workforce report in 2015, based on renewal data. One thing they found: Nebraska’s RNs are generally pleased with their choice of nursing as a career. Nearly two in three (65.4%) indicated that they were very satisfied with their career choice, and most of the remaining third indicated they were somewhat satisfied. The percentage who would make the same choice over again? 85%. The RNs were generally satisfied with their current employment as well. The top three things they reported they liked about the places where they punched the time clock were the patients, the actual work, and the people they worked with.
The workforce report notes a concentration of nurses in large metropolitan areas (Omaha and Lincoln). The rural areas, though, also have significant need.
Becoming an RN in Nebraska
A majority of Nebraska’s nurses now enter the field with bachelor’s degrees. Some enter with associate’s degrees. Graduates of both types of approved professional program (RN programs in Nebraska) take the same licensing examination: the NCLEX-RN.
Hospital Nursing Jobs
57.6% of Nebraska’s RNs work in hospital settings. Hospital employment can be very varied. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services recognizes multiple facility types, including general acute hospital, critical access hospital, children’s hospital, psychiatric hospital, and rehabilitation hospital.
The hospital experience can be very different based on the size of the facility. Large hospitals may have many very specialized nursing departments. In a small hospital, one is more likely to care for varied populations. Some large hospitals offer leadership opportunities through their various councils. In a small facility, though, one may have opportunities for decision making in a practical context.
The highest subset of Nebraska RNs surveyed chose acute care or critical care as the specialty that best corresponded with their practice; medical-surgical was a runner up. Many specialties, though, were represented.
Critical Access Hospitals
Critical access hospitals are small, but vital. Part of the criteria for being “critical access” is lack of proximity to other hospitals. Patients who arrive at CAHs may or may not receive all their care there. CAHs have agreements with larger hospitals that allow for patient transfer. Ten of Nebraska’s critical access hospitals are on the Top 100 list. Among those honored are Brodstone Memorial Hospital in Superior and Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance. Both are 25-bed facilities. Early 2018 finds Box Butte General advertising for RNs to staff emergency department/ ICU, medical surgical/ swing bed, and surgery. Swing beds are designed to provide flexibility in meeting rural healthcare needs; they may be given to residents who need care below the acute level when it is not feasible for them to go to a skilled nursing facility.
Premier Nebraska Facilities
Nebraska boasts five hospitals that have achieved magnet status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The list includes the 738-bed Nebraska Medical Center and 423-bed Methodist Hospital. The following are among those that were open at Methodist in early 2018:
- Diabetes RN Coordinator
- Acute Care RN
- RN Navigator – Radiation Oncology
- RN Registered Nurse Progressive Care
- RN Registered Nurse Emergency
- RN Registered Nurse Med Surg
- RN Registered Nurse ACE (Acute Care Elder) Unit
Magnets are known for the ability to attract – and hang onto – very skilled nurses. Under the “Magnet Nursing at Methodist” section of the website, the organization notes the credentials of their nurses. Nurses earn specialty certifications in their area of practice. Most hold the BSN. The typical nurse has quite a bit of experience. Also noted are leadership opportunities. CORE RNs have leadership training as well as high levels of training in their respective specialty areas — and there’s always one present!
Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, with 145 licensed beds, has also achieved magnet status.
Great Plains Health is listed on Becker’s Hospital Reviews list of top places to work in healthcare. Great Plains provides new graduates with a twelve-month residency to help them move from novice to advanced beginner. Career ladders reward experience. The WOW program allows very experienced nurses to choose weekend-only schedules at high rates.
Other Employment Options
The next largest workplace categories, after hospital settings, are 1) physician’s office and clinic settings and 2) nursing home and extended care settings. Other employment settings include ambulatory care, home health, school health, and public and community health.
Among the nursing specialties that might commonly be practiced outside a hospital setting: gerontology and maternal-child health.
Career Outlook and Average Salary
14% occupational growth has been projected over the course of the 2014 to 2024decade.
It’s a time of need at many facilities. As of 2018, Nebraska some employers are offering loan forgiveness.
Nebraska registered nurses earned an average of $29.02 an hour in 2016; this translates into $60,370 for a year of 40 hour weeks.
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