In Illinois, the salaries of registered nurses are highly competitive. Despite that, a shortage remains across all specialties.
One of the biggest factors is the aging workforce. A lot of nurses in the state are bound to retire, leaving the healthcare industry needing more nurses than ever.
If you are thinking of becoming a nurse in Illinois, this guide should be able to help you succeed in your chosen career.
Requirements: How To Become An RN In Illinois
Similar to most states, there are three big things you need to conquer before you can become a registered nurse in Illinois.
Complete An Accredited Nursing Program
The first step is finding the right nursing program for you. Now, this is easier said than done. Since there are tons of programs offered in the state, you have to be extra picky to make sure you get yourself into the right one.
Begin by looking for a school’s accreditation. This is what will protect you as a consumer.
You can think of it this way:
If a nursing program is fully accredited, you’re guaranteed to get high-quality education. Plus, you’ll get your money’s worth.
In Illinois, programs are accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nurses, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Colleges are also accredited through NCACS or the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Another thing you need to consider is the program outcome. Try to find out more about the program’s enrollment data as well as the level of satisfaction of both students and graduates.
Pass The NCLEX
Taking the NCLEX is a part of the process of applying to be an RN called Licensure by examination. Right after passing the exam, Illinois will grant you licensure to work as a registered nurse in the state.
Take note that there are deadlines for application. You’ll be required to apply for the last quarter in which you’ll take your courses. For example, if you’ll be graduating in mid-June and you expect to graduate at the end of the Spring Quarter, you can apply by February 1.
Get Your Nursing License
Now that you’ve passed the NCLEX, your next step is you get your nursing license.
There are a couple of things you need to provide in order to be granted your nursing license. Here are some of them:
- Identity information
- Record of examination
- Criminal background check
- Employment information
- Personal history
ADN Programs In Illinois
There are more than 50 nursing schools in the state that offer ADN programs. The number isn’t surprising, particularly with the growing need for nurses.
ADN programs in Illinois result in a two-year diploma. In general, entry to these programs is offered one or more times each year.
The admission requirements for these programs are quite similar throughout Illinois. There might be some differences so be sure to clarify with your school if you’re unsure.
Here are some of the things Illinois ADN programs require:
- Current CPR certification
- Completed forms
- Competitive GPA
- TEAS score of 60% (or higher)
The cost of completing an ADN program in Illinois has been stable in the last decade. There might be a small increase in housing, textbooks, tuition, and materials, but overall, the overall cost is still acceptable. Plus, you’ll likely find a job right after graduation so you’ll get good value from the program.
LPN To RN Programs In Illinois
Licensed Practical Nurses or LPNs who want to become registered nurses can take LPN-to-RN programs. They are designed to help them expand their existing knowledge and skills to become RNs.
You have two options when you take this route: LPN to ADN and LPN to BSN. The first option is faster and can be completed in just a few months. However, the second option is more popular since more employers are hiring nurses with a BSN degree.
BSN Programs In Illinois
Traditional BSN programs in Illinois require students to pass around 120 credit hours before they can graduate and be eligible for licensure. If students take 15 credit hours per semester, they’ll need 4 years to complete the degree.
The cost of BSN programs isn’t cheap. If you find yourself with a limited budget, you can look for schools that offer financial aids, loans, and discounts.
With the demand for nurses, you’ll likely land a job shortly after graduation and earning your license. This means that you’ll be able to pay off the money you used to complete the program.
MSN Programs In Illinois
MSN programs are focused on specialized practice and leadership. They allow you to take on new roles, like Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. On average time it takes for one to finish an MSN program is around 2 years with full-time commitment.
If you are planning on getting yourself in an MSN program in Illinois, here are some of the things you need to prepare:
- 2 to 4 professional reference letters
- Official transcripts of related studies
- Current Illinois RN license
Accelerated Nursing Programs In Illinois
Accelerated nursing programs in the state can be completed within 10 to 18 months. Since they are shorter, you should expect the courses to be intensive, Plus, they’ll require full-time commitment to complete the clinical and program requirements.
Best Nursing Programs In Illinois
|Saint Xavier University||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||✔||✔||╳||View School Profile|
|Elmhurst College||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|University of St. Francis||✔||✔||╳||View School Profile|
|Loyola University Chicago||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|Bradley University||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|Illinois State University||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|Lewis University||✔||✔||╳||View School Profile|
|Illinois Wesleyan University||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|DePaul University||╳||✔||╳||View School Profile|
A Closer Look At The Best Nursing Programs In Illinois
Picking the best nursing program in Illinois is extremely important for your career. Considering that, the following schools and universities have been ranked carefully based on NCLEX pass rates, satisfaction levels of both students and graduates, and post-graduation employment rates.
1. Saint Xavier University
Saint Xavier University is a Chicago-based Catholic school. It offers nursing scholarships which makes it one of the most affordable options for some students.
SXU offers the traditional BSN program. It has a health assessment lab that mimics a real doctor’s office. There, students learn how to make proper full health assessments. There are also simulation labs to help students examine patients, like its birthing center.
Apart from the said program, SXU also has an online RN to BSN program. For nurses who want to advance their careers, they can look at the MSN program it offers.
You can see the full list of requirements here.
2. University Of Illinois At Chicago
The University of Illinois in Chicago offers in-state tuition for students residing in the state. This makes completing its traditional BSN program cheaper than other schools.
The program combines hands-on practical learning with face-to-face instruction to give students the best learning experience.
Admission to the program is very competitive. There are some criteria you need to meet before you can be considered. The complete list of admission requirements can be found here.
3. Elmhurst College
Elmhurst College has small class sizes. However, this doesn’t mean that the level of education you can get from its program is less than what you can get from other schools.
The college offers four different nursing programs. There’s the traditional BSN, RN to BSN, and MSN program. It also has a special Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice or MENP. You can find more about it here.
4. University Of St. Francis
University of St. Francis is another Catholic school but it’s not based in Chicago. The university is quite a popular option among students because of its impressive NCLEX pass rate.
With its emphasis on experiential learning, students completing its traditional BSN program are actively connected to the field they are most passionate about. Good examples include mental health and long-term care.
Apart from the traditional BSN program, the university also offers an online BSN Completion Program. It’s designed for nurses with nursing diplomas or associate degrees who want to have a BSN. After completing it, you’re expected to have a deeper understanding and greater confidence as a nurse.
5. Loyola University Chicago
Students enrolled in Loyola University’s BSN and MSN tracks are trained through its incredible network of healthcare facilities and local hospitals. However, this doesn’t mean that you can expect to be assigned to your favorite local hospital. The assignments are assigned at random.
Loyola University Chicago has an impressive list of There are undergraduate and graduate programs you can look into depending on your career goals. There are also certificate programs for clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners.
The BSN program is one of the university’s most popular options. It’s a direct-entry program which means that students are guaranteed a spot in the program once they are accepted to its School of Nursing.
6. Illinois State University
Illinois State University is located in Normal, Illinois. Even though it’s located in a small city, you can expect big opportunities once you complete its nursing program.
The university has small class sizes. This means that students get more attention from their professors and that translates to more learning.
Class sizes don’t have an effect on students earning their degree online. However, it could be one of the reasons why the university has an impressive NCLEX pass rate.
7. Bradley University
Bradley University is located in Peoria, Illinois. It’s focused on honing nurses that are capable of taking care of patients as a whole following both scientific and patient-centered care models.
The university is located in one of the best areas in the state to learn nursing. Peoria has three major hospitals, social service agencies, and nursing homes.
Apart from the traditional nursing program, the university also offers online nursing degrees, including Master of Science in Nursing. It will allow you to be a Family Nurse Practitioner in 3.3 or 2.7 years, depending on your current degree.
8. Saint Francis Medical Center College Of Nursing
Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing has every nursing degree you can imagine. However, before you apply to its BSN program, take note that some of the required liberal arts aren’t offered here. You’ll need to take them at another accredited institution.
In general, students are able to transfer here after two years. After they’re transferred, they can start completing their comprehensive nursing degree.
9. Lewis University
Lewis University is located in Romeoville, Illinois. Focused on the pacing of today’s healthcare field, its nursing graduates have no problems keeping up with the advancements of healthcare.
The most popular nursing program at Lewis University is its traditional BSN. This program consistently helps graduates pass the NCLEX with flying colors. In fact, its NCLEX pass rate is over 90%.
Lewis University has an extensive network of healthcare facilities. This allows students to gain clinical experience that’s directly related to their goals.
10. Illinois Wesleyan University
To start, studying at Illinois Wesleyan University isn’t that expensive since it offers grants and scholarships. This makes earning your degree here quite affordable.
One of the most interesting things about the university’s nursing program is its IWU Barcelona Program. It gives nursing students the chance to study liberal arts or transcultural health abroad while staying on track.
11. DePaul University
DePaul University is located in Chicago. It’s quite a popular option among students because of its unique graduate programs.
Its Master’s-Entry to Nursing Practice or MENP is one good example. It’s a program that’s created for non-nursing college grads who want to work in the field of advanced practice registered nursing.
As it prepares students for the NCLEX and RN licensure, they are introduced to concepts and skills that go beyond the baccalaureate degree route.