Colorado RN Requirements and Training Programs

It is an exciting time to begin a career in nursing. Rapid changes in the health care sector contribute to the expanding role of nurses. Nurses today have many opportunities for growth. Although the challenges are numerous, the rewards are even greater. Nurses provide care to people of all ages in a variety of health care settings. They work with patients and their families at every level of healthcare. The nature of the work requires nurses to have a positive attitude and a genuine desire to help others. Constant changes in healthcare means call for professionals who are committed to lifelong learning. Nurses in metropolitan areas earn the highest salaries, but there are more job opportunities in the less competitive rural communities.

Education Requirements

The Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program facilitates learning opportunities for students to develop the skills to care for patients of all ages in a variety of healthcare settings. Apart from developing essential technical skills, students learn critical thinking and professional judgment. The curriculum incorporates theoretical instruction in the classroom, opportunities to apply theoretical principles in a simulated laboratory, and supervised direct patient care opportunities in a real-world setting.

Registered nursing programs are rigorous, with continuous assessments, assignments, and clinical experiences that could run for 8 to 12 hours. Graduates will earn an associate degree with a major in nursing and are prepared for the NCLEX-RN and tireless practice in a variety of healthcare settings in Colorado and beyond.

ADN graduates can provide direct bedside patient care by using their fundamental understanding of mental health concepts, childbearing, and medical-surgical nursing. The program takes less time to complete than the BSN program, which equips students with additional clinical, communication, and leadership skills. ADN-prepared nurses can improve their employment opportunities by entering the RN-BSN bridge program, which will expand their knowledge and skills in patient safety, collaboration, evidence-based practice, leadership, and healthcare systems.

The general education courses provide the foundation for lifelong learning. It sets the framework for coping with the human aspects of health and helps students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. ADN students will need to complete courses in humanities, mathematics, social sciences, physical sciences, and communications as part of the general education requirements.

Required nursing courses may include concepts of pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing, fundamentals of nursing, psychiatric nursing, maternal child nursing, and transition to professional nursing practice. There are approximately 15 colleges and universities offering the associate’s degree in nursing program in Colorado.

Eligibility Criteria

Limited seating and clinical spaces make enrolling in a nursing education program competitive. Below is a general list of requirements for enrolling in a nursing education program. For specific requirements, please contact the Nursing Department at the school of your choice.

  • A completed application submitted before the application deadline.
  • Provide official high school transcripts.
  • Attend an information session – on campus or online. The information session will provide up-to-date information on the admission process.
  • Complete the HESI A-2 entrance exam.
  • Complete a criminal background check and drug screen.
  • Meet the health summary requirements to participate in the clinical experience.
  • Possess current CPR certification for Health Care Providers.

Duration and Cost

The final cost of completing the ADN program may be well above the cost published on the school’s website. For this reason, it is important that you visit the school’s financial aid office to work out the total cost of attendance and determine what sources of aid are available to reduce your expenses. Applications for financial aid must be submitted early – well before the first day of classes. Scholarships and grants will attract scores of students looking for free money, so fill out the applications and complete the requirements well in advance. The total tuition for completing the program is approximately $37,754 plus fees, books, nursing uniform and supplies, and travel. Students must also cover all the costs for admissions testing, background check, immunization, health insurance, state licensing test, and other requirements.

Colorado RN Licensure Requirements

In an effort to safeguard public health, the Colorado State Board of Nursing requires candidates for RN registration to complete an approved nursing education program before granting approval to practice. Colorado is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact so candidates for licensure must declare their primary state of residence as part of the licensure process.

Licensure By Examination

The application for licensure by examination must be submitted online. An Application Specialist will let you know via email if your application is incomplete. Remember that any address and phone numbers you provide will become a part of public record.

Submit the following to the Colorado Board of Nursing to obtain eligibility to take the NCLEX-RN:

  • A request for Licensure by Examination – submitted online.
  • The application processing fee of $88. The non-refundable fee is subject to change and is payable using a credit card or electronic check.
  • The Affidavit of Eligibility attesting that you are lawfully present in the United States.
  • Candidate information and declaration. Provide your social security number and answers to the screening questions and court documents if you provide positive responses to the screening questions. As part of the Nurse Licensure Compact agreement, you must declare your primary state of residence.
  • The Healthcare Professions Profiling Program (HPPP), which is a series of questions concerning your application.
  • Documentation of your nursing education. Send the official transcript, in a sealed envelope, indicating the conferral date and type of degree. If you completed a non-traditional education program and completed the Student Permit application process, you must mail the completed Skills checklist, in an original sealed envelope, to the DPO.
  • Your registration for the NCLEX-RN on the web or by phone.

When you submit your application online, it will remain in the system for 30 days. If you do not complete the application within that timeframe, you’ll have to restart the application process. Once you submit the application, it will be kept on file for one year from the date of submission. Your entire record, including the supporting documents and application processing fee, will be purged, and you’ll have to submit a new application if you do not complete the application within one year. Visit the Online Services at www.colorado.gov/dora/licensing/Default to monitor the status of your application.

Foreign Trained Applicants:

If you were educated outside the United States and its territories, submit:

  • The CES credentials review “Professional Report” from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).
  • Proof of English proficiency. Your scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language should be forwarded to the CGFNS for evaluation.

NCLEX-RN Registration: You must register with Pearson Vue, by phone or online, for the NCLEX-RN. You may take the NCLEX a maximum of three times within three years of the date you first took the exam in any state or territory of the United States. You may be eligible to take the exam a fourth time if you:

  • Evaluate your deficiencies
  • Prepare for success by completing an NCLEX review, appropriate coursework, or didactic portion of a refresher course
  • Submit a written petition for a waiver to take the NCLEX for a fourth time. Provide documented evidence of completing the above steps.

All requirements for petitioning the DPO must be completed within two years of your third failed attempt of the NCLEX.

Licensure By Endorsement

You may be eligible for licensure by endorsement if you practiced on an active, unencumbered license in another state of territory in the United States within the last two years or if you have not practiced in the last two years but hold a current license from another state and graduates from an approved nursing education or military education program that is approved by a board of nursing.

Applications for licensure by endorsement must be submitted online and accompanied by the following:

  • The application processing fee of $43. The non-refundable fee is subject to change and is payable using a credit card or electronic check.
  • The Affidavit of Eligibility attesting that you are lawfully present in the United States.
  • Candidate information and declaration. Provide your social security number and answers to the screening questions and court documents if you provide positive responses to the screening questions. As part of the Nurse Licensure Compact agreement, you must declare your primary state of residence.
  • The Healthcare Professions Profiling Program (HPPP), which is a series of questions concerning your application.
  • Verification of original license. Apply for NURSYS verification if your state participates or complete and submit a Request for Verification of Original Nursing Licensure Form. It is your responsibility to contact the licensing agency and pay the appropriate fee to ensure the verification of your licensure is completed.
  • A list of all nursing licenses you held in any other state or territory. Indicate the license number, status, issuance, and expiration date of each license.

 

Renewal Requirements

Registered nurse licenses expire on September 30 of both odd and even-numbered years based on when you first received your license. You must renew your license on time to continue practicing.

To renew your license, you must set up an account online with your username and password before you submit a renewal request.

Continuing Education Requirements for Colorado RNs

Currently, there are no continuing education requirements for registered nurses in Colorado.

Colorado Salary and Job Outlook

Although the health care industry is among the largest sectors for job growth, getting hired as a registered nurse is not always simple. More and more job postings require nurses with a BSN degree or experience. For a new graduate, the entire experience can be discouraging. Uncertain economic times have forced existing nurses to continue working past retirement, making it difficult for a growing number of graduates to find jobs. A new graduate with an associate’s degree may have to wait up to 12 months to begin working. However, as demand for healthcare continues to climb, due to health care reform and aging baby boomers, there will be more jobs for new graduates.

Although there is cause for concern for recent graduates, the industry is expected to grow – faster than the average occupation through 2022. There are several ways a new graduate can increase his/her chances of employment out of school. These include specialization, getting a BSN degree, and networking to connect with decision makers. A WalletHub survey conducted in 2015 ranked Colorado as the second best state for nurses. There’s hope that new graduates will find jobs with competitive salaries, especially if they’re willing to work in rural communities and make the commitment to lifelong learning.

Registered nurses in Colorado earn an annual mean wage of $69,990 according to a 2015 report from the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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