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Choosing an RN Program in Wyoming

If you are enrolling in a professional nursing program in Wyoming, there is one essential: that the program be state approved. A list of schools with approved nursing programs is found on the Board site. The Wyoming Center for Nursing and Health Care Partnerships provides additional information about the programs.

There are quite a few options. The following is information to keep in mind.

RN Degree Options

Students may do their pre-licensure nursing coursework at the associate (ADN) or baccalaureate (BSN) level. Both ADN and BSN programs prepare graduates for safe entry-level practice. The BSN gives nurses a stronger background in health-related research and leadership. Nurses with BSNs typically have more opportunities for advancement. During difficult economic times, they often have an easier time securing a first position.

Nurses have to balance the potential opportunities against the time and cost. In a rural state like Wyoming, one also has to consider practicalities: Will a BSN require relocation?

There is only one BSN program in the state, at the University of Wyoming. However, the University of Wyoming has an outreach program that allows students to take coursework toward their BSN elsewhere.

Articulation Options

It is not necessary to complete all education at the onset. Once a student has an RN license, there are many options for doing BSN degree completion. Some are offered online.

A student can also opt for an associate program with an LPN exit option -- this is for individuals who want to get out into the workforce sooner.

NCLEX Pass Rates

The NCLEX-RN must eventually be passed. First time pass rates give some indication of how well a program is doing at preparing its graduates. The Wyoming Board lists pass rate data by program (https://nursing-online.state.wy.us/Default.aspx?page=27).

Other Considerations

The Wyoming Center for Nursing and Health Care Partnerships has provided a blurb about each of Wyoming's ADN and BSN programs (http://www.wynursing.org/nursing-education/). Technology seems to grant bragging rights. Schools may tout multimedia, high-fidelity simulation equipment, and/or computerized tests that help students prepare for the NCLEX exam.

Programs may also be distinguished by the extracurricular opportunities they offer: leadership programs, professional organizations, and nursing honor societies.

The Admission Process

Nursing schools have a selective admission process. Candidates should expect to be evaluated on the basis of grades and test scores. Healthcare experience may also be considered. There may be an essay and/or interview.

When demand is high, some potentially qualified candidates may be denied admission. Even ADN programs may use a ranking system. On a positive note, high scoring candidates can typically find a spot without being relegated to a waitlist.

Financing Nursing School

The cheapest option is often an ADN at a public college.

Costs may be partially offset through financial aid. Nursing students at accredited universities are eligible for need-based grants and loans. In addition, some will qualify for the Wyoming Investment in Nursing (WyIN) program (http://www.commission.wcc.edu/nursing-tuition-program.aspx). This is essentially a loan scholarship program -- a nurse who fulfills a service requirement after graduation will not need to make monetary repayment.

Some Wyoming ADN programs are eligible for Workforce Investment Initiative (WIA) funding -- this is a service for individuals who need training to re-enter the workforce.

Other monetary awards may be based at least in part on merit. Universities and community colleges alike boast many in-house scholarships.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites $60,690 as the average salary for a Wyoming RN (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm).This figure includes nurses with varying education and experience levels; however it no longer includes nurse practitioners and some other graduate level nurses.

Additional Information

The Board’s annual report includes information about each of Wyoming's nursing programs, including findings of accrediting agencies (https://nursing-online.state.wy.us/Default.aspx?page=27).

Resources

Becoming an RN in Wyoming: RN Career Paths

Wyoming State Board of Nursing https://nursing-online.state.wy.us/Default.aspx

Wyoming Nurses Association wyonurse.org/

RN License Requirements in Wyoming

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