Choosing an RN Program in Delaware
Delaware requires registered nurses to complete professional nursing programs that include at least 400 clinical hours. There are many options, including fast-paced year-round options and traditional ones. Some programs serve special needs: for example LPNs who are bridging to RN status. One can find a list of approved in-state schools on the Board site (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/documents/Schools_Refreshers.pdf).
ADN vs. BSN or Diploma?
One will find associate, baccalaureate, and diploma options. While all programs lead to the same license, BSNs are at a hiring advantage for many positions; they are also a step closer to advanced practice, if that is a goal.
It is not necessary to do one’s education all at once or all from the same institution. Students may wish to consider articulation agreements between schools. Connected degrees allow students to complete an associate’s degree, then transfer credits to a four-year institution.
Generally speaking, academic credits transfer more easily from regionally accredited institutions than nationally accredited ones. Programmatic accreditation by CCNE or ACEN is desirable, especially if one is considering graduate education down the line. (CCNE only accredits programs at the baccalaureate level and higher.)
Making it into a Program
Despite the well-publicized need for new nurses, there are more qualified applicants than there are openings. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has released data about programs at the bachelor’s level and higher. The proportion of qualified, yet denied applicants is not as high in Delaware as in many states.
Still, applicants may want to consider not only the minimum admission standards but the profile of the average student: Where are they most likely to make the cut?
At the higher levels, at least, selection is usually made by comparing individual qualifications. Lower level programs sometimes waitlist.
The Discover Nursing website has a feature to search for programs without waits (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters).
Just graduating from an approved program isn’t enough to ensure a professional nursing license. Candidates also must pass the NCLEX at the professional level. Delaware’s average pass rate is below that of the nation as a whole, but there is a good deal of variation from program to program. The Board has published six years of data – one can get a better sense of a program by viewing multiple years (https://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/passrates/).
Paying for Nursing School
There are a number of potential sources of scholarship and financial assistance. The federal government offers loan scholarships to some professional nursing students. This requires a commitment to serve in a Health Service Professional Shortage Area. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that there are nine HSPAs in the state (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/resources/Delaware1.pdf).
First time degree seekers may apply for Pell grants. Individual schools are a source of scholarship moneys – not all scholarships are nationally advertised. Qualifying students may receive state assistance through programs like the Governor’s Education Grant for Working Adults.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists an average salary of $70,820 for Connecticut registered nurses (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm). Delaware Technical Community College notes a starting salary in the $50,000 to $60,000 range (https://www.dtcc.edu/academics/programs-study/nursing). The first post-licensure hurdle is often securing gainful employment, particularly during economic downturns. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that prospects are better for candidates with baccalaureate degrees.
Students may also ask what professional nursing organizations, honor societies, or clubs exist on campus – these provide more than just fun or camaraderie.
Facilities, including state-of-the art labs, are a consideration for some students.
Students who enroll in out-of-state schools must make sure that the program offers the minimum number of clinical hours and that clinical instruction is offered concurrently with theory.
Delaware Board of Nursing http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/
Delaware Nurses Association http://www.denurses.org
Learn about becoming a Registered Nurse, LPN or LVN in your state:
To View Full U.S. Map Click Here.