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RN Nursing Programs in Massachusetts | MA

Registered Nurses comprise the largest group of health care professionals in Massachusetts. In metropolitan areas like Boston, they make, on average, more than $73,000 per year (according to BLS.gov) plus benefits, with wages a little lower in rural areas to reflect the cost of living. Working as an RN in Massachusetts is not easy money—nurses may have to work irregular hours, such as weekends, nights, and holidays, and bear the weight of great responsibility when it comes to individuals under their care. But it can also be a very rewarding profession—responsibility, complex decision making make for workdays that are rarely monotonous. In hospitals, which employ almost two-thirds of nurses, elder care, physicians offices and beyond, nurses are an integral part of the health care system. From management of Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nurse Assistants, to complicated decision making procedures and critical patient care, the decisions RNs make can affect dozens of people’s lives on a daily basis, and helping people through difficult times is a very honorable and satisfying pursuit. For those looking for a challenging and rewarding career in health care, working as a Registered Nurse in Massachusetts is certainly an attractive option.

Becoming an RN in Massachusetts: ADN and BSN

Perhaps the quickest way to become a licensed RN in Massachusetts short of a hospital-based diploma program, is via a two-year Associate Degree, Nursing (ADN), the route chosen by close to fifty percent of Registered Nurses. ADNs are widely available at colleges and universities and take around two years once accepted into a nursing program. Around ten courses in math, English, psychology, biology and chemistry, with a minimum of a C average, are required before even applying to a nursing program, which can add another six months to a year to your education. With competitive entry based highly on grades, the minimum will not always guarantee acceptance, so it is advisable to achieve exceptional grades before application.

Prerequisites for an ADN prepare students for the technical, psychological, and emotional aspects that are a large part of everyday work in a health care setting. Still, the main focus is targeted nursing courses that cover everything from emotional support and theory to clinical practice. And once the coursework is completed, students are ready to take the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). To take the examination, students must first apply to Professional Credential Services, the company which holds the contract for nurse licensing in the state, at a cost of $230, and provide evidence of successful completion of a state approved RN program or equivalent within the US. Once an application is approved, the NCLEX-RN costs $200 to take through national exam administrator Pearson Vue . It is important to note that this application takes into account criminal record, so, if you have a criminal history, it is advisable to consult with your nursing program prior to entry to see if it is a problem—criminal records are evaluated on a case to case basis as to whether they may stand in the way of RN licensure. Once a passing result is achieved—results take about ten days to receive—a student is eligible to begin work. Every even numbered year an RN license must be renewed at a cost of $130 and with proof of 15 hours of continuing education.

RN with a BSN

While half of Registered Nurses become licensed via an ADN program, the other half choose to do so through a BSN. A BSN can be pursued either from the outset of nursing training, after receiving an ADN, or following training and licensure as a Practical Nurse. The first two years are pretty much the same as an ADN, with electives from general studies and nursing-specific coursework. However, in the final two years, courses go beyond the skills and theories required of an entry-level RN to focus on such specialized topics as elder care, community health, advanced theory, nursing research and more. During a BSN, students do a yearly practicum in order to gain workplace experience to supplement their studies, ensuring they leave the program with working knowledge of a health care setting as well as technical and theoretical understanding of the nursing process.

BSNs in Massachusetts take the focus beyond the baseline knowledge required to practice as a nurse and require students to take their critical thinking skills to the next level, preparing them for a leadership role in a health care setting. They leave the program not only prepared for the NCLEX-RN and work as a RN, but also with research experience and an array of specialized knowledge that can open doors towards a more dynamic career, and higher earning potential, than what is available to ADN equipped Registered Nurses—something worth thinking about when deciding whether to pursue an ADN or a BSN.