To become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) in Washington D.C., applicants must have achieved, at a minimum, a two-year diploma or associate degree in nursing. However, recent trends have indicated that many nursing students are now pursuing Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees to meet the demands of Washington’s healthcare industry, and to better compete for nursing jobs in the District and surrounding areas.
In addition to being eligible to pursue master’s degree programs in nursing as to serve as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives, among others, BSN-educated RNs are often selected for supervisory and clinical teaching positions. Many national organizations, including the Institute of Medicine, now encourage nursing students to take the BSN path to RN licensure.
The District of Columbia Board of Nursing, oversees the licensing of more than 23,000 registered nurses and acknowledges the BSN as the preferred path to RN licensure.
Pre-Licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs in Washington, D.C.
According to the American Association for Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there were 1,186 students enrolled in baccalaureate nursing programs in Washington D.C. in 2013, although another 289 eligible students were turned away due to lack of space and faculty.
Online BSN programs serve as a practical alternative to campus-based programs.
Regardless of the setting, BSN programs are designed to prepare nurses to provide healthcare services to individuals in a variety of healthcare settings, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, physician’s offices, clinics, and health agencies, among others. Baccalaureate-prepared RNs have also achieved a level of education that allows them to serve as clinical leaders, supervisors, and clinical educators.
Admission Requirements for BSN Programs in Washington D.C.
A BSN program includes both general education courses and courses within a nursing core. Students must generally first complete all prerequisites and achieve a minimum GPA in prerequisite courses before earning admission into the nursing program. These general education courses often include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Developmental psychology
- English composition
Some institutions also require students to take and pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills, commonly referred to as the TEAS, to be considered for the nursing program, and many institutions require students to complete an application and submit an essay and personal references.
Core Nursing Requirements for BSN Programs in Washington D.C.
The second half of a BSN program consists of core nursing courses, most of which are supplemented with clinical experiences. Nursing courses within a typical BSN program include:
- Health assessment
- Human growth and development
- Nutrition and disease prevention
- Health promotion/disease prevention
- Mental health nursing
- Health care of women
- Nursing research
- Care of children
- Ethics, quality and decision making
Clinical Requirements for BSN Programs in Washington D.C.
Clinical experiences are an important aspect of a BSN program, as they take the knowledge gained from classroom work and allow students to apply it in real-world settings. Both online and campus-based BSN programs require the completion of clinical rotations in local facilities.
Just a few of the healthcare institutions in Washington D.C. where BSN students may complete their clinical experiences include:
- Howard University Hospital
- Psychiatric Institute of Washington
- Sibley Memorial Hospital
- United Medical Center
RN License Requirements in Washington D.C.
Students who have graduated from an accredited BSN program are eligible for RN licensure through the District of Columbia Board of Nursing. To become licensed as an RN in Washington D.C., applicants must first complete an Application for Licensure by Examination form and register with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX-RN, the national examination designed to assess the knowledge and skills of entry-level registered nurses.
Once the Board of Nursing has received and reviewed the application and all required documents, they will send eligible candidates an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter. Upon receiving the ATT letter, applicants can schedule their test date with Pearson Vue at one of Pearson Vue’s many testing centers. Nearby Pearson Vue testing centers are located in:
- Washington D.C.
- Bethesda, Maryland
- Alexandria, Virginia
- Vienna, Virginia
- Columbia, Maryland
Applicants must also schedule an appointment with L-1 Enrollment Services to begin their criminal background check.
Once candidates have passed the NCLEX-RN and the background check, the Board of Nursing will issue a District of Columbia RN license. All RN licenses must be renewed on June 30 of odd-numbered years upon the completion of at least 24 contact hours.
Nurse Residency Programs for RNs in Washington D.C.
Nurse residency programs in Washington D.C. serve as a transitional tool for newly licensed RNs. These structured programs consist of guided practice, including mentoring and learning opportunities, as to ensure that the newest nurses in Washington D.C. are prepared to handle the challenges and rigors of nursing practice.
Just a few of the hospitals in Washington D.C. that offer nurse residency programs include:
- Children’s National Medical Center
- Georgetown University Hospital
- George Washington University Hospital
- Washington Hospital Center