For registered nurses (RNs) in Kentucky thinking about earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), now is the time. The strong job outlook for RNs is one reason to consider a BSN. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also points out that nurses with a BSN will have better job prospects than those without one.
Another reason is the 80/20 goal, an initiative of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) — now known as the National Academy of Medicine. Higher levels of nursing education are linked to better health outcomes for patients, and the IOM has called for 80 percent of RNs to have a BSN by 2020.
Northern Kentucky University (NKU) offers an online RN to BSN program that helps busy nurses fit school into their schedule. Multiple start dates and affordable tuition are other attractive aspects of this program.
What Is the State of Healthcare in Kentucky?
Kentucky's healthcare crisis is seen in rankings and reports:
- Kentucky ranks 48 in an America's Health Rankings 2018 Senior Report.
- County Health Rankings puts Kentucky's "Years of Potential Life Lost" (YPLL, per 100,000) at 9,000, compared with a U.S. YPLL of 6,700. In health outcomes, this is a measure of premature death (before the age of 75).
- Kentucky has 102 designated "Medically Underserved Areas/Populations."
- In a February 2018 brief, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy described the state as one of the "hardest hit by the national opioid epidemic."
What Is the Job Outlook for Nurses in Kentucky?
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are 71,638 professionally active nurses in Kentucky. Of these, 58,756 are RNs. Nationally, employment of RNs is expected to grow by 15 percent, much faster than average.
Although some reports show a nursing surplus, Kentucky hospitals report a nursing shortage. An April 10, 2017 article in the Northern Kentucky Tribune reports that larger hospitals may have a vacancy rate of 10 to 40 percent at any given time.
The 2012-2024 Kentucky Occupational Outlook report projects the state will need an additional 16,047 RNs by 2024. This represents a 36 percent increase over estimates for 2014. An aging population is cited as one reason for the high demand.
How Do RN Salaries Compare Within Kentucky?
Based on BLS data as of May 2017, RNs working in Kentucky earned a mean annual salary of $61,530, which translates to an hourly wage of $29.58. The lowest 10 percent earned $43,550, while the top 10 percent earned $80,310.
As in any state, salaries for RNs vary from one area to another, and in Kentucky this may mean a difference of over $10,000, depending on the location. BLS data as of May 2017 shows the following salaries for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.
|Area||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
|South Central Kentucky||$27.76||$57,740|
|Louisville/Jefferson County KY-IN||$30.57||$63,580|
How Do RN Salaries in Kentucky Compare With National Wages?
National BLS estimates show that RNs earn a median hourly wage of $33.65, or $70,000 annually. The lowest 10 percent of RNs earned less than $48,690. At the top end, RNs earned more than $104,100. See how Kentucky compares to a few other states.
|State||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
RNs working in rural or underserved areas may be eligible for loan repayment programs. For example, the National Health Service Corps funds a 50/50 matching loan repayment program. Kentucky also has a Nurse Incentive Scholarship Fund which provides $3,000 per year for school and cost of living expenses.
RNs can play an important role in providing quality care to patients in Kentucky's rural and underserved areas. Whether for professional growth or personal satisfaction, earning a BSN can open the door to new opportunities.
Learn more about NKU's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:Kentucky Board of Nursing: Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund
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