Choosing an RN Program in South Dakota

Are you looking to select a professional nursing program in South Dakota? The South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce urges you to consider, in addition to program length, cost, and location, entrance requirements, ease of transferring credits and your own career goals.

ADN or BSN Program?

Some South Dakota RN programs award bachelor’s degrees while others award associate degrees. Nationwide, the bachelor’s degree (or BSN) confers hiring advantages, and many nursing organizations consider it the ideal.

The degree that students earn at the onset, though, is not necessarily the one they will have a decade down the road. It can be a good idea to take a look at upward mobility options.

Program Approval

Approved programs can have any of three statuses. Programs with interim status have not yet attained full approval; often they are very new. Programs with full approval have been around a while and have been found to be in full compliance with regulations and standards. Programs that are on probation have failed to meet one or more standards and have been given time to demonstrate improvement.

South Dakota NCLEX Pass Rates

While a student can expect any program with full approval to be high quality, he or she may still want to consider hard data like NCLEX pass rates. The NCLEX exam is a requirement for licensure. The South Dakota Board considers a 75% first-time pass rate the minimum for staying in good status. This is lower than the minimum set by many state licensing agencies. Pass rates can be found in the Board’s annual report (http://doh.sd.gov/boards/nursing/documents/2012AnnualNursingEducationReport.pdf).

Accreditation

Students may see two types of accreditation listed beside approved programs. One is institutional accreditation. The other is programmatic accreditation. Nursing education programs may be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). (The latter recently changed its name from ‘NLNAC’, so you will still see this designation.)

Not all South Dakota ADN programs hold programmatic accreditation. However, all BSN programs do (as of February 2014). It is easier to enter a graduate level nursing program if you have a degree from an accredited program.

Special Programs

Some programs include flexible scheduling and delivery models. The Board accepts and even encourages online coursework (http://doh.sd.gov/boards/nursing/assets/PathwaysBkltMapCover.pdf). There are special programs that allow healthcare workers to complete coursework for an RN license.

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The Admission Process

Nursing programs typically have a selective admission process. Usually grades and test scores are part of the equation.

The 2012 annual report reveals that a majority of South Dakota RN programs were able to admit all qualified applicants (http://doh.sd.gov/boards/nursing/documents/2012AnnualNursingEducationReport.pdf). However, there were exceptions.

Some South Dakota programs have waitlists, but often this is simply a list of alternates. It may be necessary to reapply if a space does not open that very semester.

Financing Nursing School in SD

The Dakota Corps program funds some high school graduates who pursue education in critical need areas. “Registered nurse’ is among the areas of critical need for 2014. A recipient can expect all tuition and fees at a public institution to be covered. A student at a participating private institution can expect a similar amount, but the allotment will probably not cover the full cost of tuition. An applicant must be prepared to commit to work in South Dakota for at least a few years after the degree has been earned. There is a competitive selection process.

Students should be aware that there are many nursing scholarships that do not come with a service commitment. Some are available through the schools themselves and are not nationally advertised.

Eligibility for various need-based financial aid programs is determined through a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The average salary for a South Dakota RN is $52,800, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm).

Resources

RN License Requirements in South Dakota

South Dakota Board of Nursing

South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce

South Dakota Nurses Association

Becoming an RN in South Dakota: RN Career Paths

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