Kentucky Nursing Programs

Widely known as home of the Kentucky Derby, the Bluegrass State also offers first-rate educational opportunities for nursing students. With more than 40 schools to choose from, an aspiring healthcare professional can earn an Associate’s degree and then go on to pursue a BS and Master’s degree without ever leaving the state.

The nation continues to face nursing shortages yet the state of Kentucky doesn’t appear to be as hard hit as many others. Hospital staffing conditions may show improvement due to the adoption of a multi-state license that allows nurses residing in nearby states to practice locally. Too, Kentucky offers financial incentives to college shoppers in the hopes they will be encouraged to attend school in-state and hopefully stay on after graduation.

In addition to agriculture and manufacturing, healthcare in Kentucky is an industry that continues to show promise of jobs in the near and distant future.

Outlook for Kentucky Nurses

Despite the country’s need for qualified nurses, Kentucky’s unemployment rate rose slightly in July 2012, up to 8.3%, a bit higher than the national level. Still, according to KY government sources, Health and Educational services are on the rise. U.S. job growth for the industry promises to be up by 26% between 2010 and 2020, which is very good news for nursing students!

Due to high turnover rates, hospitals seem to be in constant need of qualified help, though traditionally RNs in private duty settings and outpatient centers tend to make more. Nursing Care employees are on the lower end of the financial scale but the job market looks promising for this avenue in healthcare.

Nursing Jobs in Kentucky

Hospitals in Kentucky do the most hiring, and the widest selection of hospitals can be found in larger cities such as Louisville and Lexington. However, the more rural regions may offer surprising job opportunities, depending on one’s area of expertise. Private duty jobs are also excellent avenues to pursue, as the pay is often better. And on the national front, Nursing Aides, Assistants and Orderlies can expect 20% job growth by the year 2020.

Another employment avenue to consider: Nursing Education. Colleges in various states have to turn away qualified students because there are too few educators to keep up with demand. The level of education and quality of nursing program will largely decide how much education is required to teach, but on average expect to need a Master’s degree or possibly a BS but with specific clinical specializations.

Average Healthcare Salaries in Kentucky

Data from BLS 2011 10th Percentile 25th Percentile 50th Percentile
Registered Nurses  $41,770 $48,000 $56,890
Licensed Practical Nurses  $28,370 $32,430 $36,500
Nursing Aides/Orderlies  $17.010 $19,560 $22,410
Home Health Aides  $16,420 $18,150 $21,320

Licensing in Kentucky for Nurses

Licensing and certification not only protects patients and healthcare institutions, it also protects nurses by keeping their skill set up-to-date and relevant. Extra certification also makes new nurses more desirable as potential employees, particularly when thinking of relocating to another state.

Required Exams: In order to become a licensed RN in Kentucky graduates must pass the National Council Licensing Exam and also the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

Info for Relocating Nurses: If licensed in another state and wanting to practice in Kentucky nurses may become licensed by endorsement from another state, or by examination. Note that out-of-state nurses must pass specific questions relevant to nursing in Kentucky as well.

Advanced Certification: Kentucky also requires advanced Nurses such as Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) to continually update knowledge and nursing skills. For a list of required courses refer to the Kentucky Board of Nursing site.

The site can also assist with specifics regarding license renewal; also the status of license if a Nurse faces legal charges, and how to go about procuring a multi-state license.

Nursing Programs in Kentucky

With 40 schools to choose from, students can go the more traditional route of pursuing an Associate of Science (ASN) degree in Nursing, or go on to pursue a Baccalaureate and beyond. Advanced education and additional certification often helps graduates garner higher pay and experience a broader selection of job options.

  • An Associate of Science (ASN) in nursing normally takes between 2 to 3 years; once a student graduates he/she will be eligible to take the NCLEX exam to become a Registered Nurse.
  • A Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing will ultimately provide students supervised real-life experience with patients. A BS can also improve chances of taking on administration duties and/or teaching jobs, though a Master’s degree should improve your chances even more.

Don’t forget, too, that the state of Kentucky also provides specialized training with classes in forensics, health administration, physical therapy. Depending on career goals, minoring in a complimentary field such as business administration could help a student move up in the job ranks more quickly than those with only an AS.

Financial Incentive

If you aspire to become a nurse but are concerned about education costs don’t forget that most states offer financial incentives to pursue a career in healthcare. Kentucky residents should note that the Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund can provide eligible candidates up to $3,000 per year for cost of living and school expenses. Note: recipients must be Kentucky residents at the time of application but they are not required to attend a nursing program in-state.

Now that you know the state of Kentucky can provide a first-rate education and possibly pay you for the privilege, what are you waiting for?