There are so many good reasons to be a nurse in Florida. The nursing demand in the state is high since it’s considered one of the most popular retirement states in the country. Plus, the annual average salary of nurses is appealing, too.
Now, if you are thinking of starting your career here, it’s important that you consider looking for the best nursing program in Florida. The right school can help prepare you for your chosen career.
To help you with that, here’s an in-depth guide you can use as a reference.
Requirements: How To Become An RN In Florida
In Florida, there are steps you need to take before you can be a registered nurse and practice. Below is an overview of those steps to help you in jumpstarting your career.
Complete An Accredited Nursing Program
Your first step towards becoming a registered nurse in Florida is to earn a degree. Like in most states, you have several options.
You can earn a two-year degree and launch your career quickly. Another option is to earn a BSN degree which can open up more opportunities. Take note that the number of employers that prefer candidates with at least a BSN degree is increasing.
In picking the right pathway for you, it’s important to take a good look at your options. Check if the program or school you’re considering is accredited and meets the requirements for licensure.
Pass The NCLEX
The next step you need to take is to pass the NCLEX. It’s a test that’s administered to evaluate an aspiring nurse’s fitness to practice and take care of patients.
Licensed practical nurses or LPNs are required to take the NCLEX-PN exam while registered nurses must take the NCLEX-RN exam. Take note of this when submitting your application.
Get Your Nursing License
There are two main certification options offered by the Florida Board of Nursing: licensing by endorsement and licensing by examination.
If you are obtaining your license by examination, you need to be a graduate of a CCNE or an ACEN-accredited nursing program. Apart from that, you’ll need to pass a criminal background check and submit your electronic fingerprints.
Take note that there’s a fee you need to pay before you can sit for the NCLEX.
If you plan to obtain your license by endorsement, you need to have a valid license to practice nursing in another federal jurisdiction or state. Similar to the other option, you also need to successfully pass a criminal background check and pay the required application fee to get your license in Florida.
ADN Programs In Florida
In Florida, the ADN curriculum varies from one school to another. However, most of them involve laboratory work, classroom instruction, clinical rotations, and simulated exercises.
Most ADN programs throughout the state can take about 2 years to complete. This may get shorter or longer depending on your background and the school offering the program.
In terms of cost, the biggest differentiator is the type of school you’re planning on getting into. In general, you’ll find more affordable programs in public schools.
LPN To RN Programs In Florida
LPN to RN programs are generally shorter than traditional programs. An applicant’s previous practical nursing education is a huge factor for this.
In picking the right program for you, the first thing you have to consider is the degree you want to attain. You can take the LPN to ADN pathway which is generally shorter since it can be completed in less than a year.
If you want to have a more in-depth nursing education, you can choose the RN to BSN route.
BSN Programs In Florida
If you are really serious about pursuing nursing, consider investing in your education and enroll in a BSN program. It prepares students to provide the best nursing care and prepares them to take leadership or management roles in the future.
Not all schools and colleges have the same admission requirements. However, most BSN programs in Florida require their applicants to submit their GED transcripts, TOEFL scores (if applicable), completed school applications, and ACT or SAT scores.
Generally speaking, BSN programs in Florida can take 4 years or 8 semesters to complete.
MSN Programs In Florida
Getting an MSN degree can open up lots of opportunities for nurses. If you complete an MSN program, you can take more advanced care roles.
MSN programs in Florida can take over 24 months to complete. They usually require a full-time commitment. That’s why working while studying isn’t recommended.
The majority of MSN programs require the following:
- Current resume that includes references
- Proof of practice for two years or more
- Complete transcripts from all undergraduate institutions
Accelerated Nursing Programs In Florida
Accelerated BSN programs can take around 11 to 10 months to complete. Applicants are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a bachelor’s degree in any accredited university or college.
Because Accelerated BSN programs have demanding course schedules and complex courses, applicants are not encouraged to be employed while studying.
If you are worried about the cost of completing the program, there are schools that offer financial aids and scholarships.
Best Nursing Programs In Florida
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A Closer Look At The Best Nursing Programs In Florida
Looking at the long list of options can be confusing and overwhelming for most nursing students. As a way to make your search for the best nursing programs in Florida easier, we ranked the following schools based on NCLEX pass rates, costs, satisfaction levels of both students, and employment rate of graduates.
1. University Of Florida
University of Florida offers several nursing programs. It has the traditional BSN program which aims to prepare its students to work in a variety of health care settings.
The program consists of two divisions- the lower division and the upper-division nursing courses. It’s four semesters in length and includes classroom activities, supervised clinicial practice experiences, and laboratory assignments.
Apart from the traditional program, the university also offers an Accelerated BSN program. If you are planning on getting a doctoral degree, it also has a BSN to DNP program.
2. Jacksonville University
The cost of getting your nursing degree from Jacksonville University might be a bit high but you can consider it as a good investment for your future. The quality of education and experience you’ll get from this institution is one of the best in the state.
After completing its BSN program, you can work as a nurse generalist and get employed in different healthcare settings. You can work in hospitals, nursing centers, clinics, and even schools.
Take note that the school has a selective admission process because of the limited number of students they accept per program.
If you are planning on obtaining a graduate degree, the university offers an on-campus RN-to-MSN program. This allows students, particularly current RNs, to jump straight to a graduate degree.
You can learn more about the programs here.
3. University Of Miami
One of the best things about the University of Miami School of Nursing is its simulation facility. It’s set up as a hospital that includes an Emergency Room, labor and delivery area, surgical area, and more. It also comes with mannequins, giving students the opportunity to get a glimpse of what it’s like to work in the field.
To qualify for its BSN program, you need to submit your official ACT or SAT scores. There are also clinical prerequisites that you need to complete. You can see the full list here.
The school has a world-class reputation when it comes to healthcare educational programs. Ever since it started, the school has been changing and meeting the demands of healthcare globally.
Like Jacksonville University, University of Miami School of Nursing also has a selective admission process. Once you’re able to pass its screening and application process, you’ll receive high-quality training and education that’ll equip you with the right knowledge, skills, and attitude you need to be successful in your career.
4. Florida State University
The low-instate tuition makes Florida State University’s BSN program quite attractive to students. Apart from that, its programs are impressive, too.
It offers an accelerated BSN program to students who want to complete their degree faster. It also offers an MSN Nurse Leadership program which is nationally recognized for its ability to hone nursing students to become effective leaders in their fields.
5. University Of South Florida
Located in Tampa, University of South Florida’s College of Nursing aims to prepare its students to get employed right after graduation. In fact, the majority of its graduates were able to find employment at graduation and most of them started with above-average salaries.
The university also ranks high in terms of research funding. This is something you need to consider if you’re a graduate-level nurse.
6. Nova Southeastern University
NSU’s program is quite interesting. Unlike others, it allows students to take nursing courses in the first semester.
Although it’s a 4-year program, its students won’t have to wait until the last two years to start on their major courses.
Florida residents can enjoy lower tuition fees compared with out-of-state students. However, this doesn’t mean that the overall cost of earning your degree at Nova Southeastern University is extremely cheap. There are still a lot of things you have to pay for. This includes the one-time NSU application fee, registration fee, nursing lab fees, and others. You can find out more about the tuition and fees here.
By enrolling in its program, you’ll be exposed to the school’s state-of-the-art simulation labs, innovative and effective teaching strategies, and the most recent educational technology.
Just make sure that you show competence and dedication as the school is extra selective in admitting students. It also has limited slots per program.
7. University Of Central Florida
The programs offered by the University of Central Florida are affordable. However, this doesn’t mean that the education you can get from it isn’t great.
Its BSN program is a limited-access program. Before applying, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the credentials. You can see the full list of admission requirements here.
Additionally, you also have to check the application process since it’s different for each campus.
8. Florida Southern College
Florida Southern College has one of the most comprehensive BSN programs around. It’s a bit different, too.
The program allows students to start their nursing education a bit early. Once accepted, they can declare their major and take nursing courses with their general education courses.
Take note that FSC doesn’t offer a lot of nursing degree options. However, the ones they do offer are impressive. They are designed to help their graduates to be able to think ethically and critically while providing care.
9. University Of North Florida
UNF has incredible in-state tuition, making it appealing to a lot of students based in Florida. In addition to that, its list of nursing programs is good, too.
UNF offers an accelerated BSN program. It’s offered to students with a bachelor’s degree in another field who want to prepare for their nursing career while obtaining a BSN degree.
The prelicensure track can be completed in about 15 months or 4 consecutive semesters with full-time commitment. After graduation, students are qualified to take the NCLEX and earn their license eventually.
In addition to this program, UNF also offers graduate programs. You can learn more about them here.
10. Florida International University
Florida International University is a big school. In fact, it’s one of the largest schools in the state.
Its BSN program is strong. It prepares students to meet the demands of their career- whether they work in clinics, hospitals, or other healthcare facilities.
In addition to that, FIU also offers an online RN-to-BSN program. To qualify for this, you’ll need to present your Florida Registered Nurse license. You’ll also be required to have a 2.75 cumulative GPA. The full list of requirements is here.
FIU also has a Nurse Anesthetist Program. Completing it can open a lot of opportunities for a registered nurse since it also grants an MSN. You can find out more about the program here.