The Arizona State Board of Nursing regulates and licenses registered nurses (RNs) in Arizona. Although an Associate Degree in Nursing takes just two years to complete, versus four years for a BSN, many students in Arizona are nevertheless choosing to complete a BSN for RN licensure because of the increased opportunities a BSN may present.
For example, a 2014 study by the National Student Nurses Association showed that job placement within six months of graduation for nurses with bachelor’s degrees was 72 percent, versus just 61 percent for nurses with associate’s degrees. Recent statistics from the Arizona State Board of Nursing mirror the national trend, revealing that new graduates continue to report a preference among employers for candidates with BSN degrees over those with ADN degrees.
Although Arizona graduated virtually the same number of RNs in 2013 as it did in 2012 (2,850 vs 2,852), the shift toward RNs with bachelor’s degrees is evident, as during this time there was a 13 percent increase in the number of graduates with BSN degrees, while there was a 5.5 percent decrease in the number of associate’s program graduates.
Pre-Licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degrees in Arizona
According to the Arizona State Board of Nursing, there are currently 16 BSN pre-licensure programs in Arizona. Candidates for RN licensure in Arizona who want to pursue a BSN degree also often choose to pursue online programs in lieu of campus-based programs, as they often provide more flexible schedules for today’s busy student.
Admission Requirements to BSN Programs in Arizona
BSN programs are designed to prepare students to be a part of Arizona’s healthcare workforce. BSN programs tend to be highly competitive, requiring students to maintain a minimum GPA during the first two years of general education courses before they are accepted as nursing majors.
Individuals applying to a nursing program should be prepared to complete and submit an application and letters of recommendation. Personal interviews for the top candidates are also commonplace in competitive BSN programs.
Coursework Requirements for BSN Programs
A BSN program takes about four years to complete. During the first two years, students in BSN programs take all prerequisite coursework, which includes courses such as:
- General chemistry
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Lifespan Development
Professional nursing courses, which are taken during the third and fourth years of a BSN program, include:
- Foundations in nursing care
- Nursing pharmacology
- Acute and chronic illness management
- Mental health nursing
- Population health and community nursing
- Nursing leadership and management
- Transition to the professional nursing role
BSN programs in Arizona generally consist of between 120 and 125 units.
Clinical Requirements for BSN Programs in Arizona
The average number of patient care hours in Arizona’s registered nurse programs was 644 in 2012. Associate degree programs in 2012 required an average of 604 hours, while bachelor degree programs required an average of 680 hours. More clinical hours allow BSN students to better prepare to become competent RNs capable of taking on more clinical responsibilities.
Clincals often include rotations in community-based service settings such as:
- Mental health
BSN programs provide more community health coursework and practice, in contrast to associate degree programs, which focus more on acute care experiences.
Just a few of the healthcare institutions where BSN students in Arizona may complete their clinical rotations include:
- Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson
- Arizona State Hospital, Phoenix
- Aurora Behavioral Health System, Glendale and Tempe
- Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, Scottsdale and Mesa
- Banner Children’s Hospital, Mesa
- Benson Hospital, Benson
- Chandler Regional Hospital, Chandler
- El Dorado Hospital, Tucson
- Kindred Hospital, Tucson
- Flagstaff Medical Center, Flagstaff
How to Become a Licensed RN in Arizona
BSN graduates are eligible for licensure as registered nurses (RNs) by completing and submitting an Arizona State Board of Nursing Registered Nurse/Practical Nurse Licensure by Examination application, along with a completed fingerprint card and an application fee of $300.
Candidates must also apply to take the NCLEX-RN, a national examination designed to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge and competence, by completing the NCLEX-RN Registration through Pearson Vue. The NCLEX-RN may be taken at one of the many Pearson Vue centers throughout the U.S., including Phoenix, Chandler, and Tucson.
Upon approval from the Board of Nursing, candidates receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter from Pearson Vue, at which time they can schedule to take the examination.
RN licenses in Arizona are renewed every 4 years. Renewal is dependent upon meeting the Board of Nursing’s 960 practicing hour requirement.
Residency Opportunities for New RN Graduates in Arizona
Graduates of BSN programs are prepared to practice nursing in all healthcare settings, including outpatient care, mental health, critical care, and public health, and nurse residencies are an effective way to be introduced to the nursing practice.
Nurse residencies provide ample opportunity for newly licensed RNs in Arizona to make the transition from student to professional nurse through mentorships, professional guidance, and advanced clinical experiences. Hospitals regularly offer these programs as to decrease turnover rates and ensure a highly professional and prepared nurse workforce.
Just a few of the hospitals in Arizona that offer nurse residences for new grads include:
- Maricopa Integrated Health System (includes the Maricopa Medical Center, the Arizona Burn Center, the Comprehensive Healthcare Center, and McDowell Healthcare Clinic, and 10 community family health centers)
- Scottsdale Healthcare System offers two New Grad RN programs.
- Abrazo Health Care System serves the metropolitan Phoenix community as one of the largest health care organizations in Arizona.
- Arizona Heart Institute, Phoenix
- Phoenix Children’s Hospital: Offers a Graduate Advancement Program in pediatrics
- Banner Health Arizona
- Mayo Clinic Arizona: Offers a one-year Nurse Residency Program
- University Medical Center Arizona, Tucson