Alongside its famous southern charm and iconic horse racing legacy, the state of Kentucky may have plenty to offer those seeking a career in nursing. The Bluegrass State is home to some of the major hospitals in the country and is also a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact which can make it easier for nurses from many other states to move here for work, as well as for Kentucky nurses to relocate to a different state.

As of May 2018, the state has over 3,000 nurse practitioners (NPs), 46,000 registered nurses (RNs), and 9,500 licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Although the Becker Hospital Review has predicted a surplus of RNs in Kentucky up to 2024, many hospitals in the state have been struggling to recruit enough nurses to meet the demand. This has led to several institutions offering sizeable sign-on bonuses for new nurse hires, as reported by the Courier-Journal, part of the USA Today network.

Read on for more information on Kentucky nursing schools, professional organizations, licensing requirements and more.

Best Nursing Schools in Kentucky

Kentucky Badge ImageKentucky is home to 45 nursing schools[A1], which may make it challenging for prospective students to identify the right nursing school and program for them. Whether they’re entering nursing for the first time or looking to take the next step to advance their career, making an informed choice on a nursing degree program is vital.

To make this important decision a little easier, we dug into the statistics to rank the best Kentucky nursing schools, for both graduate and undergraduate-level students. Both our graduate and undergraduate school rankings are based on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the methodology we followed to create these lists.

Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$8,996
Undergraduate graduation rate
44%
Undergraduate retention rate
73%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
98%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$23,700
Undergraduate graduation rate
52%
Undergraduate retention rate
85%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
97%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$8,950
Undergraduate graduation rate
42%
Undergraduate retention rate
72%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
96%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,888
Undergraduate graduation rate
32%
Undergraduate retention rate
58%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
98%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$7,656
Undergraduate graduation rate
49%
Undergraduate retention rate
77%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
94%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$7,794
Undergraduate graduation rate
20%
Undergraduate retention rate
68%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,888
Undergraduate graduation rate
34%
Undergraduate retention rate
64%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$10,202
Undergraduate graduation rate
43%
Undergraduate retention rate
70%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
95%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,888
Undergraduate graduation rate
43%
Undergraduate retention rate
69%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
97%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,888
Undergraduate graduation rate
22%
Undergraduate retention rate
64%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$11,363
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$5,670
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$11,224
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
5
Graduate Tuition
$12,996
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$10,512
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$9,900
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
0
Graduate Tuition
$8,631
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$12,246
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$11,780
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$4,950
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1

Nursing Accreditation in Kentucky

Kentucky law dictates that while the Kentucky Board of Nursing (KBN) has the authority to approve nursing programs within the state, it is unable to accredit programs. If a nursing program has approval, it simply meets standards established by Kentucky law.

Students should be looking for an accredited nursing school. This should be important to students hoping to pursue a career in nursing in the state. Accreditation can give students a certain measure of assurance that a degree program is of high-quality and holds to the same standards of other nursing degree programs across the US that are accredited by the same agency. Accredited qualifications are often required for admission to advanced nursing programs.

Agencies that grant accreditation to Kentucky nursing programs can include:

  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)

Kentucky Nursing Licensure

To become a licensed practical nurse in Kentucky, candidates must typically take the LPN diploma, and pass the NCLEX-PN examination.

Prospective registered nurses can gain their license either through a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). They must also pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Prospective students wishing to become nurse practitioners in Kentucky must typically earn, at minimum, a graduate degree at the master’s level, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), from an accredited nursing program. Kentucky follows the APRN Consensus Model, which means that NPs must be educated in the six foci of population and be nationally certified for at least one of these foci. The program usually contains a clinical element that meets the required standards of the selected population foci.

Apply online or find out more about nursing licensure in Kentucky by visiting the Kentucky Board of Nursing.

Kentucky Nursing organizations

Professional nursing organizations exist to support individual nurses, as well as the wider nursing community. Kentucky nursing organizations can connect nurses and nursing students with different opportunities, from ongoing education to professional networking and career development. Here are a few of Kentucky’s professional nursing organizations:

  • Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA):

    KNA is the state’s only full-service professional organization for Kentucky nurses. Established in 1906, KNA is dedicated to promoting the vital role of RNs in healthcare delivery and advocating for quality patient care. Join for access to education, nursing vacancies, and expert support in crises.

  • Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse-Midwives:

    This organization can initiate and support legislation, offer ongoing educational opportunities, facilitate collaboration between APRNs and other health professionals, connect Kentucky nurses with suitable roles, and support research. There are plenty of networking opportunities at its annual conference.

  • KYANNA Black Nurses Association:

    The nonprofit Kentucky chapter of the National Black Nurses Association, KYANNA generally focuses on supporting the development and advancement of black nurses, improving the health of the African American community, and unifying community agencies and healthcare bodies serving the needs of the African American community.

  • Kentucky Association of Nursing Students (KANS):

    A member of the National Student Nurses Association, KANS can participate in many annual events and conferences, which often offers networking and learning opportunities, and recognizes outstanding students and teachers on both a local and national level.

Kentucky-Specific Continuing Education

Kentucky nursing licenses should typically be renewed between September 15 and midnight of October 31 each year.

To renew their nursing license, LPNs and RNs in Kentucky usually complete 14 contact hours during each renewal period or complete either a national certification, a publication in a nursing journal or a nursing research project in which they are the principal investigators. Other options for fulfilling these requirements can be found here.

An APRN’s board certification should generally satisfy the 14 contact-hour requirements, but APRNs must also complete five contact hours of approved pharmacology within each licensure period. Visit the Kentucky Board of Nursingfor more information on nursing license renewal.

Hospitals in Kentucky

Most RNs in the US work in hospital environments which means Kentucky nursing students can benefit from information about major medical centers in the state. These hospitals could be the site of their future careers and students may be able to find the essential educational experience they need before graduation. Read on to find out about the three major hospitals in Kentucky.

  • Norton Hospital (Louisville): A 605-bed hospital with a focus on advanced diagnostics and surgical procedures, Norton Hospital is a certified Primary Stroke Center and the preferred birthing facility for high-risk pregnancies. The hospital is recognized as a leader in minimally invasive and cancer surgery. It is also home to one of the major spine centers in the US.
  • University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital (Lexington): Part of the UK HealthCare patient care enterprise, the Albert B. Chandler Hospital is home to the area’s only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit. The acute care hospital contains 569 beds, including 100 intensive care beds.
  • Jewish Hospital (Louisville): Many of the Jewish Hospital’s clinical programs have achieved national excellence rankings. It was the site of the first four-hand transplants in the US, as well as the world’s first successful AbioCor™ Implantable Replacement Heart transplant. The 462-bed institution continues to pioneer medical advancements.
Sources & Methodology

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we gathered data for 6,758 United States institutions. We then filtered that list of schools by state and analyzed the data for each state with two different methodologies, in order to create two different lists: our undergraduate list, based on 11 ranking criteria, and our graduate list, based on 9 ranking criteria.

Final data for the 2016-17 school year was used for these rankings. Schools that did not provide data for all of the required ranking criteria were disqualified from that ranking.

The 11 criteria for the undergraduate school ranking were as follows:

  1. Number of associate- and bachelor’s-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of associate- and bachelor’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of associate- and bachelor’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Average amount of federal grant aid awarded to full-time first-time undergraduates
  8. Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
  9. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  10. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  11. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

The graduate school ranking scored schools based on 9 criteria, different from the undergraduate list. These 9 criteria were as follows:

  1. Number of master’s- and doctoral-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of master’s- and doctoral-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of master’s- and doctoral-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  8. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  9. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools’ tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

 

Sources

  • American Hospital Directory, Accessed September 2019, https://www.ahd.com/
  • Approval and Accreditation, Kentucky Board of Nurses, Accessed September 2019, https://kbn.ky.gov/education/Pages/approval.aspx
  • Become a nurse in Kentucky + Requirements + Licensing, Nurse Journal, Accessed September 2019, https://nursejournal.org/licensing/kentucky-nursing-requirements/
  • CE/Competency, Kentucky Board of Nurses, Accessed September 2019, https://kbn.ky.gov/ce/Pages/default.aspx
  • Complete guide to nursing in Kentucky, nurse.org, Accessed September 2019, https://nurse.org/resources/nursing-career-kentucky/
  • FAQ: Nursing education, Kentucky Board of Nurses, Accessed September 2019, https://kbn.ky.gov/pon/Pages/ponfaq.aspx
  • Kentucky Nurses Association, Nursing Network, Accessed September 2019, https://kentucky-nurses.nursingnetwork.com/
  • Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners & Nurse-Midwives, Accessed September 2019, https://www.kcnpnm.org/page/ab_whyjoin
  • Kentucky Association of Nursing Students, Accessed September 2019, https://www.ourkans.org/
  • Kentucky Nursing License, Nursing License Map, Accessed September 2019, https://nursinglicensemap.com/advanced-practice-nursing/kentucky-nursing-license/
  • KYANNA Black Nurses Association (BNA) of Louisville Inc, Accessed September 2019, http://www.kyannabna.org/home-2.html
  • Licensees, Kentucky Board of Nurses, Accessed September 2019, https://kbn.ky.gov/licensees/Pages/default.aspx
  • May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Kentucky, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed September 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ky.htm
  • Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed September 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
  • There are not enough veteran nurses. So Kentucky hospitals are offering big cash bonuses, courier-journal, Accessed September 2019, https://www.courier-journal.com/story/life/wellness/health/2017/10/06/kentucky-nurse-shortage-hospitals-cash-bonus/622301001/

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