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Choosing an RN Program in Hawaii

Interested in a career in professional nursing? There are more RN program in Hawaii than one might imagine. The list includes five baccalaureate (BSN) programs and four associate (ADN) programs. The ADN programs are all at state-supported community colleges while the BSN options are housed in a mixture of public and private institutions.

One essential criteria is that the program be approved, or state-accredited. If it's a Hawaii institution, look for it to be on the list of board recognized schools. Obviously geography will be a consideration in a state like Hawaii. Lets discuss what else might be important to think about.

Considering the Nursing Career Ladder

It's worth thinking about what level of nursing one wants to practice at, but the decision doesn't have to be made at the onset. Hawaii has an articulation model in place that makes it easy for those who graduate from community colleges to continue on for a BSN. One often thinks of an associate degree as a two-year degree and a baccalaureate as a four-year degree, but this isn't necessarily the case with nursing, especially when prerequisites are figured in. An associate degree in nursing at a Hawaii community college takes three years. It is still possible to complete a BSN in four years -- and to do the latter part of training online through a Hawaii institution.

One can also opt for a distance program though an out-of-state school. Since RN to BSN programs don't result in a new license, they aren't state regulated, but program-level accreditation through CCNE or ACEN can be important. Why? One reason is graduate school. There is surprising demand for individuals at the highest levels of nursing practice, and the Hawaii State Center for Nursing encourages individuals to practice at the full extent of their education. Graduate level nurses can take on roles similar to general practitioner doctors.

What about the opposite end of the spectrum: those who aren't sure they want to devote even three years to schooling without entering the job market? There are also options in Hawaii to begin practical nurse (LPN) training and choose whether to stop there or continue on for an ADN.

Other Considerations

Since the NCLEX-RN is a licensing requirement, prospective students may want to consider program pass rate. Completion rate is another quality indicator – not all students who begin programs make it through.

A person may also need to consider how easy it will be to be admitted. TEAS scores, prerequisite GPA, and references may be considered even at the community college level. Some schools, like the University of Hawaii, require the SAT or ACT.

Financing Nursing School

Nurses are eligible for Pell grants, Stafford loans, and, in some cases, loan scholarships. Individual schools can be a source of scholarships as well. Students may want to search scholarships through the Hawaii Community Foundation (http://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/scholarships). Native Hawaiians have additional options including Native Hawaiian Health Scholarships (http://www.nhhsp.org/) and Indian Health Services Scholarships.

Considering Job Options

The nursing profession is expected to grow. This doesn't mean that it's easy to secure that first position, at least during recessions. A 2011 report found that 34% of new nurses had taken more than six months to secure a position. Click here to see the report in detail.

Nurses with degrees at the baccalaureate level and higher are often at a hiring advantage, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (https://www.aacn.nche.edu/news/articles/2013/new-data). Job placement services and school reputation also matter.

There are many factors to consider when determining relative costs. Schools have actually been ranked on lifetime investment (AffordableCollegesOnline.org). Hawaii’s RNs average $84,750 – but it takes time to get there (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm).

Choosing a Nursing Program When Nursing is Your Second Career

Those who already have degrees in other fields are in a unique position. There is the direct entry master’s. This is the quickest option, though not necessarily the cheapest. On a bright note, the higher the nursing degree, the easier it tends to be to land that first job, according to data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (https://www.aacn.nche.edu/news/articles/2013/new-data).

Resources

RN License Requirements in Hawaii

Professional and Vocational Nursing: Licensing

Hawaii Nurses Association

Hawaii RN Careers

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