Nursing Programs in Alaska

Overview of Alaskan Nursing Needs

Alaska’s major cities of Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks house some of the country’s best hospitals. Unfortunately, these institutions lack the necessary number of nurses that they need to maintain their standards of quality care. The good news is that the state’s nursing shortage offers a major foot in the door for any prospective nursing student who wishes to take up practice in this chilly northwestern extension of the contiguous US. Although there are over two dozen hospitals in Alaska, there are only a handful of nursing degree programs in the state, making the call for qualified, trained nurses widespread throughout the state.

Licensed nurses through the Alaska Board of Nursing can earn a substantial living while serving citizens of the country’s largest and least populated state. The Board serves the nursing community by endorsing their qualifications through licensing, continuing education efforts, and maintaining high standards of practice that are consistent throughout the state. Those who are in the business of shaping the state’s health care are not alone in their endeavors. In fact, 7000 of the state’s nursing professionals from all levels are represented as a single empowered force by the Alaska Nurses Association, a community leader in health and safety.

Job Outlook for Alaska’s Nurses

Of the 26 hospitals in Alaska, all are suffering from a persistent shortage of nurses. If the average annual Registered Nurse income of $80,570 sounds appealing to you, head to Alaska to begin your nursing career with a starting salary significantly higher than that of more populated states. Astonishingly, the 90th percentile of annual wages for RNs in Alaska exceeds a triple-figure income. Because of the higher cost of living, remote access, and generally robust quality of education and career in Alaska, entering nurses are paid more in this state than in most others.

In Alaska, the demand for nursing professionals is high and the supply is running lower than ever. Those who get a certification or degree as a LP or RN in Alaska can expect to be quickly and gratefully employed and compensated well, though much of their work may involve those in remote locations, air travel, and challenges specific to a vast, cold land and a mix of rural and urban pathologies.

Nursing Jobs and Education in Alaska

Because the Alaskan land mass is so enormous and the population is comparatively tiny, nurses who are willing to travel on a daily or weekly basis are even more highly sought after than those who are stationary. Travel nurses who can visit rural clinics or far away towns can often increase their earnings by as much as 1/3 by offering their services to a diversity of locations.

The University of Alaska has locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Both branches of these major academic institutions offer a plethora of scholarships for outstanding students in their School of Nursing. Degrees from entry-level Associates to Master’s of Science can be achieved at UA with the help of scholarship incentives. Generous financial opportunities like the Western Institute of Nursing New Scholar Award or the Roger DeSmith Renal/Diabetes┬áResearch Award for Nursing Students are only available to those in the nursing program who are highly motivated and at the top of their class.

Providence Health and Services and their associated medical center in Anchorage is the largest employer of nurses in the state. Other highly respected employers can be found through the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA).

Average Salaries for Nurses in Alaska

Data from BLS 2012 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Registered Nurses $60,290.00 $80,570.00 $105,970.00
Licensed Practical Nurses $37,850.00 $52,570.00 $67,370.00

References:

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Employment Statistics, and Employment Projections http://www.bls.gov/
The American Health Care Association http://www.ahcancal.org/research_data/
Kaiser Family Foundation http://statehealthfacts.org/
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation http://rwjf.org/