Nurses form the main support of the health care system. Changes within the system to address the increasing complexities of diseases and incorporate technology in various aspects of care led to an expansion in the role nurses play. The ever-expanding role, additional educational requirements, and the published woes of over-burdened nurses working in short-staffed environments have resulted in fewer students choosing nursing as a career. The nursing shortage has a profound effect on the quality of patient care and clinical outcomes both locally and nationally. In spite of the potential challenges, those who are called to patient care are making good use of the incentives provided to attract, recruit and retain more nurses to meet patient needs. Grant funding made available to colleges and universities in Pennsylvania makes nursing education readily available to those who might be interested in the profession but face financial constraints. The use of technology to revolutionize the delivery of content removes another obstacle to learning, providing access to nursing education to those students in rural areas. Technology also helps to alleviate the nursing faculty shortage as instructors can reach students at multiple sites from a single point.
The associate degree in nursing program provides a short-term solution to the nursing shortage for both employers and those looking to enter the profession at the time when demand is great. With approximately two years of study, public and private health care facilities may have access to a continuous pool of new graduates. To the prospective RN, the ADN degree program represents a fast and affordable path to preparing for the licensure exam. However, the expanded role of nurses and concerns for patient outcomes should lead RNs to continue their education to the BSN degree, which is fast becoming the standard for nursing practice in hospitals and other major health care institutions.
The goal of any nursing program is to equip students with the knowledge, competency and compassion to restore patients’ health. The programs are available on a part-time or full-time schedule and in traditional learning or hybrid learning formats. High school graduates, second-degree candidates, and licensed practical nurses are just a few examples of persons who can enroll in the program. Licensed practical nurses may be eligible for advanced placement in the program.
Instruction in the classroom will provide the foundation for clinical experiences and help students achieve their long-term goals. The associate degree in nursing requires the completion of 66 to 72 credit hours. Areas of study include an introduction to basic human needs, anatomy and physiology, psychology, college English, human growth and development, transition to practice, mathematics for allied health, microbiology, meeting complex adult needs, and much more.
Hands-on learning is another essential part of the curriculum as it gives students opportunities to practice their skills in various clinical settings, including pediatrics, obstetrics, community health, and women’s heath among others. Before exposure to these clinical settings, students will develop clinical skills and techniques in the school’s simulation labs using a variety of scenarios they will encounter in the real world.
Upon completion of the Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing, graduates become eligible to sit the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX-RN). Success on the exam qualifies the candidate to practice as a registered nurse with approval from the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.
Any degree program requires determination and commitment on the part of the student. It is particularly true with nursing school as graduates will have the lives of patients in their hands. Whether part-time or full-time, the courses will require countless hours of outside study apart from the obligatory assignments. Traditional classroom sessions may offer some flexibility, but the clinical sessions are scheduled based on availability and students will have to adjust their schedules to match. With a shortage of nursing faculty and clinical spots, admission will be competitive so completing prerequisite courses and volunteer experiences in healthcare may give you an edge over other applicants. The clinical experience has specific requirements for participants, including health and background check requirements. Health requirements include TB test, immunization records or waiver, and a physical exam. Certain criminal convictions may affect your ability to participate in the clinical experience and secure state licensure.
General entry requirements include:
- Meet the requirements for admission to the college.
- Submit a completed application before the program deadline.
- Provide documentation of completing high school or GED credential. Graduates should have completed units of science, mathematics, social studies, and English.
- Complete the pre-admission test.
- Complete the prerequisite courses with a grade C or above.
Duration and Cost
The average rate of tuition for nursing students in Pennsylvania is $560 per credit or a flat rate of approximately $3,200 per semester. Nursing students must also cater for other necessary expenses, including uniform, liability insurance, CPR, textbooks, medical equipment, health insurance, and transport to and from the clinical sites. Admission requirements are also higher than the average admission costs as nursing students must complete a criminal history check and meet the health requirements, such as drug screen and immunization to participate in the clinical experience.
Pennsylvania RN Licensure Requirements
No person may practice as a registered nurse in Pennsylvania without a valid license or temporary permit (TPP). Any violation is prosecutable by law.
Guidelines for Licensure by Exam
- Complete the Board application for Exam/Graduate Temporary Practice Permit. Make sure you use your legal name. You may submit an application online or use the paper application – downloadable from the Board’s website. Applications remain valid for one year from the date the affidavit is signed.
- Provide your social security number. If you do not have a social security number, you must submit a paper application.
- Enclose a check or money order of $35 for the RN Initial Licensure Exam. The Graduate RN permit costs an additional $35. Checks or money order must be made out to the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Credit and debit cards are not accepted. The application will not be processed until the fee is submitted.
- Register for the NCLEX through Pearson Vue and pay the required fee of $200 at the same time you submit an application to the Board. The Board will send a letter with instructions for registering with Pearson Vue if you’re not already registered by the time they receive your application.
- Confirm that the nursing program submitted the Nursing Education Verification Form directly to the Board of Nursing.
- Submit copies of criminal court documents or certified copies of all disciplinary actions from the Boards that imposed actions if you answered yes to any questions in Section B on the application. You will also need to complete a Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) from a State Law Enforcement Authority for all states where you lived in the last five years.
Out-of-state graduates must request an official transcript and NEV from the nursing program to be submitted directly to the Board of Nursing. The initial licensure exam fee for graduates of out-of-state programs is $100.
After you’ve submitted a completed application to the Board and registered with Pearson Vue for the exam, allow 14 business days to receive the Authorization to Test from the testing service. A request for special testing accommodations may delay the processing of your application. The ATT test dates cannot be extended. If you do not take the test within the validity dates, you will be required to reregister to take the test.
Test results will be available approximately 30 days later. If you pass the exam, the Board will mail your license (not the test results), which can be verified online. If you fail the exam, you will receive a Candidate Performance Report (CPR) with an application and instructions to retest.
Temporary Practice Permit
- You may submit an application for a Graduate TPP during the one year period from completion of the nursing education program.
- The permit will expire if you take the licensure exam – and your employment must cease immediately.
Once issued, the graduate nurse must practice under the supervision of an experienced Pennsylvania RN. It may be extended for up to 1 year under special circumstances.
Guidelines for Licensure by Endorsement
If you completed a registered nursing program in any state or territory and pass the State Board Test Pool Exam (SBTPE) or the NCLEX-RN you may apply for a PA RN license by endorsement using the steps provided below:
- Complete the Board Application for Endorsement – Temporary Practice Permit. Make sure you use your legal name. Mail the completed application to the Board and indicate Endorsement Area. Applications remain valid for one year from the date the affidavit is signed.
- Provide your social security number. If you do not have an SSN, complete the Waiver of Social Security form.
- Enclose a check or money order of $100 for the permanent license or $135 for the TPP and permanent license. Checks or money order must be made out to the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Credit and debit cards are not accepted. The application will not be processed until the fee is submitted.
- Request an official transcript of your education from the nursing education program to be sent directly to the Board of Nursing. The transcript must designate the degree awarded and the month, day, and year you completed the program.
- Submit copies of criminal court documents or certified copies of all disciplinary actions from the Boards that imposed actions if you answered yes to any questions in Section B on the application. You will also need to complete a Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) from a State Law Enforcement Authority all states where you lived in the last five years.
- Verify your license. If the licensing authority participates in the Nursys, you must register and pay the fee to have your license verified. If the licensing authority does not participate, you must request verification of your license to be sent directly to the Board’s office. The verification form is available for download on the Board’s website. The may be a fee for the service.
- Meet the requirements for continued competency if your license has not been active for the past five years.
Temporary Practice Permit (Endorsement Applicants)
To apply for TPP with the application for licensure, you must complete the following steps:
- Apply for licensure and check the RN License and Temporary Permit on the application.
- Enclose the appropriate fee of $135 for the license and the TPP.
- Complete Section E on the application, confirming that you hold a current, valid license in another or territory in the United States or Canada.
- Provide evidence of English proficiency if you did not complete your nursing education program in English. TOEFL, TOEIC, or IELTS scores are all acceptable. English Proficiency Test Scores must be mailed directly to the Board from the testing agency.
Child Abuse Continuing Education Requirement
All candidates for RN licensure must complete 3 hours of DHS-approved training in child abuse recognition and reporting.
RN Renewal Requirements PA
RN licenses expire every two years. The Board of Nursing will mail a renewal notice to the last address on record prior to license expiration date. Failure to receive the notice does not excuse the licensee from renewing on time. RNs must update their address with the Board within 14 days of making a change. The renewal fee for RN licenses is $65.
Continuing Education Requirements for Pennsylvania RNs
Registered nurses must complete 30 hours of CE during each biennial period. Any CE completed outside the renewal period cannot be applied to the 30 hours. CE units cannot be carried over. Therefore, if you completed more than the 30 required hours, it cannot be applied to the next renewal period. Do not mail CE certificates to the Board unless requested. However, you should keep them on records for at least 5 years to present if you’re selected for an audit. On the renewal application, answer Yes or NO to completing the required CEUs.
Pennsylvania Salary and Job Outlook
Nursing is one of the fastest-growing occupations. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a need for more than 3 million nurses by 2022. While demand increases, there’s a continuous decline in the nursing workforce for several reasons. Experienced nurses are set to retire, and it is estimated that more than 55 percent of them will leave in the next decade. Health care providers are also facing difficulties retaining new graduates as they struggle to adjust to the long shifts and demanding labor caused by overwhelming staff shortages.
Job vacancies in any industry are perplexing for hiring managers, but it is especially so in healthcare as it directly impacts patient outcomes. Recruiters spend up to 3 months to fill generalist positions and even more for specialty positions. High turnover rates affect the public’s access to healthcare and also the level of care they receive at hospitals. Improving the nurse to patient ratio will reduce deaths and improve patient outcome and satisfaction.
The Baby Boomer population will account for 20 percent of US residents by 2030 and will need preventative care and treatment for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. Faced with the tough decision of boosting their staff, health care employers are snapping up new nurses and providing the additional training they need to face the realities of practice. Further opportunities for career development, including paid tuition for those seeking to complete the BSN program, help employers increase job satisfaction, retain staff, and boost their workforce to deliver the quality care their patients need.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 report, registered nurses in Pennsylvania earned an annual mean wage of $67,550.
Contact the Board of Nursing
Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing
P.O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
Phone: (717) 783-7142
Fax: (717) 783-0822
Pennsylvania Registered Nursing Programs and NCLEX-RN Pass Rates:
Bethlehem, PA LPN Programs:
Northampton Community College
3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.06%
Bell, PA LPN Programs:
Montgomery County Community College
340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 78.90%
Bradford, PA LPN Programs:
University of Pittsburgh Blackboard
300 Campus Drive, Bradford, PA 16701
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100.00%
Bryn Mawr, PA LPN Programs:
750 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 65.96%
Butler, PA LPN Programs:
Butler County Community College
107 College Drive, Butler, PA 16002
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88.89%
Clarion, PA LPN Programs:
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
840 Wood Street, Clarion, PA 16214-1232
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.52%
Cresson, PA LPN Programs:
Mount Aloysius College
7373 Admiral Peary Highway, Cresson, PA 16630-1999
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 86.81%
Everett, PA LPN Programs:
Allegany College- Bedford County Campus
18 North River Lane, Everett, PA 15537
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 87.50%
Gettysburg, PA LPN Programs:
HACC Gettysburg Campus
731 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate:
Gwynedd, PA LPN Programs:
Gwynedd Mercy University
1325 Sumneytown Pike, Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 77.78%
Lancaster, PA LPN Programs:
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences
410 North Lime Street, Lancaster, PA 17602
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 87.03%
Lock Haven, PA LPN Programs:
Lock Haven University
401 North Fairview Street, Lock Haven, PA 17745
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.31%
Media, PA LPN Programs:
Delaware County Community College
901 South Media Line Road, Media, PA 19063
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 81.88%
Monaca, PA LPN Programs:
Community College of Beaver County
1 Campus Drive, Monaca, PA 15061
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 85.92%
Nanticoke, PA LPN Programs:
Luzerne County Community College
1333 South Prospect Street, Nanticoke, PA 18634-3899
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 86.11%
Newton, PA LPN Programs:
Bucks County Community College
275 Swamp Road, Newtown, PA 18940
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 87.72%
North East, PA LPN Programs:
16 West Division Street, North East, PA 16428
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 76.92%
Pittsburgh, PA LPN Programs:
Community College of Allegheny County
808 Ridge Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212-6097
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.58%
La Roche College
9000 Babcock Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237-5808
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.30%
Reading, PA LPN Programs:
Reading Area Community College
10 South Second Street, Reading, PA 19602
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.10%
Schnecksville, PA LPN Programs:
Lehigh Carbon Community College
4525 Education Park Drive, Schnecksville, PA 18078
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 77.14%
Titusville, PA LPN Programs:
University of Pittsburgh at Titusville
504 East Main Street, Titusville, PA 16354
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100.00%
University Park, PA LPN Programs:
Pennsylvania State University
201 Health and Human Development East, University Park, PA 16802
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89.66%
Williamsport, PA LPN Programs:
Pennsylvania College of Technology
One College Avenue, Williamsport, PA 17701
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: N/A
Youngwood, PA LPN Programs:
Westmoreland County Community College
145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood, PA 15697
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 80.34%