Hospitals and clinics across the country face a shortage of registered nurses for the foreseeable future. For example, the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) estimates 4,300 nursing vacancies each year. A 2022 IHA study concluded 1,300 new nurses are needed per year through 2030 to meet demand.
Aspiring nurses may wonder how they can become registered nurses in Indiana and fill this talent shortfall. The Indiana State Board of Nursing maintains clear standards for new nurse licensure and continuing education. A nursing career in Indiana starts with the right combination of education and exam results. Nurses licensed in Indiana can also find work in 38 other states as part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).
Nursing Certification in Indiana
A 2020 report from the Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research and Policy found 116,259 licensed registered nurses across Indiana. These nursing professionals completed the state’s nursing licensure process for new licenses and renewals. Future nurses need to check off educational, exam, and documentation requirements before joining the workforce.
Educational Options for Registered Nurses
Indiana requires the completion of an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing prior to certification. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the most common degree held by registered nurses. The Bowen Center found that 46.9% of the state’s nurses reported BSNs as their highest degree with another 12.9% planning BSN studies within two years.
BSN students prepare for future careers with strong foundations in physical, life, and social sciences. Their classroom studies are translated into real-world experiences during clinical placements. Students learn how to become nurses by completing courses on topics like:
- Ethics for Nurses
Thanks to advancements in online learning, career-changing professionals can follow accelerated paths to start their nursing careers. An accelerated degree recognizes the value of a student’s previous work and provides the skills necessary for nursing licensure. Accelerated degree students are ready for NCLEX-RN exams in less than half of the time of traditional BSN students.
Nursing Licensure Documentation
First-time applicants for nursing licensure in Indiana submit additional materials to the state licensing board. Certificates of Completion or college transcripts demonstrate completed degrees. Additional requirements for registered nurse licensure in Indiana include:
- Current application form and $50 fee
- Criminal Background Check
- Statement for “yes” responses to questions about legal and disciplinary actions
- A $200 fee for the NCLEX-RN exam
Completed documentation allows applicants to register for the NCLEX-RN exam. State approval of an application triggers an Authorization to Test email from test administrator Pearson VUE. This email includes instructions for exam registration and scheduling.
The NCLEX-RN Exam
State nursing boards use the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) as an important benchmark for nursing licensure. Graduates of nursing programs typically complete the NCLEX-RN 45 days following the completion of their degrees. The Indiana State Board of Nursing requires proof of a passing exam score as part of the initial licensing process.
The NCLEX-RN test plan in effect from 2023 to 2026 requires the completion of at least 85 questions over five hours. A computer-adaptive testing (CAT) model uses the test taker’s performance to determine subsequent questions. There are eight categories covered by case studies and other test items on the NCLEX-RN:
- Management of Care
- Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
- Physiological Adaptation
- Safety and Infection Control
- Reduction of Risk Potential
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Basic Care and Comfort
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reported a nationwide pass rate of 79.9% for first-time test takers in 2022. NCLEX establishes a passing standard with each test plan used by CAT in evaluating test takers. The exam typically ends when CAT determines a participant achieved the passing standard with 95% certainty.
Registered Nurse Salaries in Indiana
Successful passage of the NCLEX-RN leads to immediate licensure in Indiana. Newcomers to the profession benefit from strong average salaries while filling important roles in the state’s healthcare workforce. National rankings also place Indiana among the best states for nursing careers.
The BLS found a median salary of $68,890 for registered nurses in Indiana, far exceeding the $50,440 salary for all occupations. Registered nursing jobs represent a larger portion of jobs in Indiana than in the rest of the country based on the BLS location quotient. U.S. News & World Report ranked Indiana No. 18 in Hospital Quality in 2023 in part because of the high-quality care provided by nurses.
Healthcare providers in Indiana need additional nurses to further improve patient care. Professionals in other fields now know how to become registered nurses in Indiana; they just need a partner for their educational journey. The University of Indianapolis provides the innovative learning experience necessary to succeed in today’s job market.
Preparing for Nursing Careers at the University of Indianapolis
The university’s Distance Second-Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) helps students transition from their first careers. In just 15 months, students learn the skills necessary for licensure in Indiana. There are no on-campus requirements and all coursework is completed online.
ABSN students complete 570 clinical hours along with 56 credit hours. Placements local to students are facilitated by the university’s clinical placement team. The ABSN curriculum covers topics including:
- Complex Transitional Nursing Care
- Nursing Health Assessment
- Transitional Care in Primary and Population Health
- Transition to Professional Nursing Practice
The University of Indianapolis was recognized as a 2022-2023 College of Distinction. Nursing graduates pass their NCLEX exams at a higher rate than the national average. These accomplishments elevated the nursing school to No. 206 out of 681 universities in U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2022-2023.