Nursing Programs in Hawaii

Nursing in Hawaii

Surely there is no more highly sought after locale to give and receive care than the series of islands known as Hawaii. The tropical climate, relaxing atmosphere, and bounty of health-giving flora and fauna makes the landscape ideal for those seeking a soothing place to retire, those undergoing treatment for a chronic disease or recovery from trauma, or those overburdened by the stresses of the world who seek health and wellness.

The 10,000 Hawaiian registered nurses and 1200 licensed practical nurses who care for these individuals have more on their career plate than they can handle, however. There exists a great need for several thousand more nurses in this paradise, primarily surrounding the urban areas like Honolulu but also in rural, sea-bound towns without easy access to medical facilities. Those attracted to the island lifestyle and the unique challenge of nursing for critically ill or aging patients on an isolated land mass will find a fitting work environment in the Aloha state.

Job Outlook for Hawaii Nurses

Hawaii has more to offer than beautiful beaches and the opportunity to island hop, as if that incentive weren’t enough. The idyllic state also ranks third for highest median RN salary, coming in at a cool $85,000 for the 10,000 RNs in the state. The Hawaiian government estimates that there maybe as many as 3000 new job openings on the nursing front in the next few years, which is almost a third of the current population of nurses. This need demands that Hawaii invite nurses from the mainland to work on its treasured islands, no big feat for a state with such a welcoming allure and one of the highest salaries in the country.

Next to tourism, healthcare is one of the next big moneymakers in the state, and much of this is devoted towards rehabilitation centers and emergency care clinics. Nurses in Hawaii must be prepared for a flexible career that may involve travel by air or boat, intense shifts and the ability to multi-task for a variety of different cross-cultural situations and patients.

Education and Licensing for Hawaii’s Nurses

There are only ten school programs that license nurses in Hawaii. Despite this limited number of options, a student can receive their LPN/LVN diploma, BSN or MSN through quite a few different routes. The University of Hawaii at Manoa even offers the state’s only PhD program in nursing, and also has a degree program where dedicated students can receive their Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP).

Because RNs typically make about double the salary of LPNs in Hawaii, the motivation to advance one’s entry-level education to an RN status is significant. Four schools, including Hawaii Pacific University, have programs that allow a painless and successful transition from LPN to RN degree, provided that the student meet the minimum requirements for licensing.

Hawaii state’s Department of Professional and Vocational Licensing runs the Nursing Board, which has the ability to license qualified nurses and approve registered schools who meet the standards. The 12,000 nurses in the state in addition to the 3,000 new ones that are expected to join their ranks will be represented as a single voice by the Hawaii Nurses Association. Nurses are also supported and advocated for by the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, through which the major medical centers and treatment clinics of the state voice their concerns, recruit new employees, and maintain high standards of care.

Average Salaries for Nurses in Hawaii

Data from BLS 2012 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Registered Nurses $58,390.00 $85,200.00 $114,570.00
Licensed Practical Nurses $35,620.00 $44,490.00 $56,570.00


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Employment Statistics, and Employment Projections
The American Health Care Association
Kaiser Family Foundation
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Healthcare Association of Hawaii