How To Become A Nurse In Tennessee

Tennessee nursing licenses are issued by the State Board of Nursing under the Tennessee Health Department. The board, created in 1911, is responsible for the licensing, education and practice of registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in the “Volunteer State.”

Nurses are in demand in Tennessee which, like most other states in the Union, is experiencing a nursing shortage. A projection of nursing supply and demand commissioned by the Tennessee Center of Nursing, funded by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and conducted by the Tennessee Hospital Association, found that over the next few years, demand will exceed supply. This gap will grow each year with a total shortage of over 9,000 RNs predicted by 2020.

Tennessee Has Most Critical Nursing Shortage of 16-State Area

A similar study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) predicts a much greater nursing shortage for Tennessee. Data extracted from the DHHS report shows that Tennessee is projected to have the most critical shortage of all the 16 states in the Southern Regional Education Education Board (SREB) area by 2020.

The state nursing board also approves nursing programs in Tennessee and only graduates of approved schools of nursing are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is required for RNs and LPNs to practice.

There are two major categories of nurses. LPNs can work in a doctor’s office or clinic, long-term care facilities, and hospitals. They must be supervised by either an RN or physician. LPN training is usually a 12-month program through a community or technology center. In Tennessee, LPN programs are based in the Tennessee Technology Centers located throughout the state.

RNs provide and supervise patient care delivery in many healthcare settings and have critical roles in hospitals, clinics, health departments, surgical centers, physician’s practices, long-term care, rehabilitation care, insurance companies, school systems, and employee health in many industrial settings.

Salaries Vary in Different Regions of the State

In Tennessee RN salaries vary with the region of the state where Memphis is the major city in West Tennessee, Nashville the largest in Middle Tennessee and Chattanooga in East Tennessee, The median salary for a registered staff nurse in Memphis is $62,080 a year, $61,298 in Nashville and $61,339 in Chattanooga.

Acute care hospitals pay the best as well as some of the larger hospital groups. Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) based in Nashville, is the largest owner of private health care facilities in the world, operating 162 hospitals in 20 states. Big employers like HCA pay anywhere from $21 to $35 an hour.

There are three educational pathways to becoming a RN: a two-year associate degree through a college or university, a three-year diploma program (usually associated with a hospital), or a four-year baccalaureate degree through a university. In Tennessee, only associate and baccalaureate degree programs are available through many state and private colleges and universities.

Nursing Schools in Tennessee

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Nursing School Locations

East Tennessee State University
807 University Parkway
Johnson City, TN 37604
(423) 439-1000

University of Memphis
3720 Alumni Avenue
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2000

University of Tennessee
Health Science Center
910 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38163
(901) 448-5500

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
320 Student Services Building
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 774-1000

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