Wisconsin, like most other states, is experiencing a nursing shortage and there is a growing demand for healthcare professionals. The average annual salary for an RN (registered nurse) in Wisconsin stood at $64,460 in 2013 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and this is rising. This salary is quite close to the national average. However, the cost of living in Wisconsin is below the national average, which means the salary is actually very good. So how do you become a nurse in Wisconsin?
ENTRY LEVEL PRACTICE NURSES
At entry level, there are three main stages towards becoming a nurse.
STAGE 1. CHOOSE WHETHER YOU WANT TO BE AN LPN OR AN RN.
You need to complete a one year diploma program to become an LPN (licensed practical nurse). You must complete a two year associate’s degree (ADN) or four year bachelor’s degree (BSN) program to become an RN. The LPN programs may be shorter and easier, but they are not popular because demand is lower and salary is even lower.
STAGE 2. MEET THE PREREQUISITE COURSES TO BE ACCEPTED ONTO YOUR CHOSEN PROGRAM.
ADN and BSN programs in particular will usually want you to show competency by completing a number of undergraduate courses. Do ensure you score high on these, as admission is highly competitive.
STAGE 3. PASS THE RELEVANT NCLEX EXAM.
The NCLEX examination for LPNs is the NCLEX-PN, while the NCLEX-RN is for RNs.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
To become an APNP (Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber) in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Board of Nursing has described a four stage process.
STAGE 1. EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE AT MASTER’S LEVEL IN A FIELD RELATING TO NURSING OR HEALTHCARE.
The school must be accredited by an agency recognized by the Board of Education in the state in which the school is located. Alternatively, it can be nationally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
All programs must include the following core courses in their curriculum:
2. Advanced pharmacology
3. Physical evaluation and assessment
After you have applied for your national certificate, you must complete 45 hours of clinical work in pharmacology and therapeutics within three years. You must be able to prove this, demonstrating what the course was, how long it took to complete and when you completed it. You must also register with the DEA if you want to prescribe controlled substances.
Those who want to become CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) must complete a bachelor’s degree as a minimum, specializing in nurse midwifery. Additionally, this program must be accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED IN YOUR AREA OF SPECIALIZATION.
The Board recognizes the following types of APNPs:
1. NP – Nurse Practitioner
2. CNA – Certified Nurse Anesthetist
3. CNS – Clinical Nurse Specialist
4. CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife
The Board recognizes the following national certification agencies:
• The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), which recognizes the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
• The ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center), which recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP), Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP), Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) and the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).
• The PNCB (Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, which recognize the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Acute Care and Primary Care.
• The AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners), which recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP.
• The NCC (National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties), which recognizes the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) and the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP).
• The AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, which recognizes the pediatric critical care CNS, the adult critical care CNS and the neonatal critical care CNS.
• The AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board), which recognizes the certified nurse midwife (CNM).
STAGE 3. RECEIVE AN APNP OR CNM CERTIFICATE.
As an APNP, you can be an NP, CNA or CNS. You must complete the Application for Certification As An Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber and include all relevant documentation and fees. Once this has been received, you will be sent information in relation to a jurisprudence examination that you must complete and pass under the Wisconsin Statutes and Rules. This examination can be completed online and you will receive all necessary information for this through the Board.
As a CNM, you must complete the Application for Certification as a Nurse-Midwife and include all relevant documentation and fees. You may also apply for a Temporary Permit as a CNM. This permit will last for six months, although a renewal is required after three months. The permit can be extended to 12 months if you can demonstrate true hardship. While working on a temporary permit, you will be a “Graduate Nurse Midwife”. You must also make sure that the American College of Nurse Midwives verifies your certificate.
As soon as the Board receives your application, you will be given an identification number that will allow you to check on the status of your application online.
As an APNP, you can also apply for prescriptive privileges. If you also want to prescribe controlled substances, you must complete the application form relevant to what you want to do.
STAGE 4. RENEW YOUR CERTIFICATE.
Do this every other year in even numbered years by September 30 for APNPs. You will receive a reminder around eight weeks before the date. You must also renew your RN license. Both can be done online and must include relevant fees.
As a CNM, you must also renew your certificate biannually in an even numbered year, by March 1. You will also receive a reminder around eight weeks before the day, and you must renew your RN license separately. Again, you can complete your application online.
By October 1 of each year, you must submit a copy of your malpractice insurance if you wish to hold prescriptive authority.
An APNP also has to meet continuous education (CE) hours. 8 contact hours per year must be completed in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics relevant to your area of practice. No CE requirements have been set by the Board for CNMs. All must meet the CE requirements of your national certification agency.
Wisconsin Board of Nursing
Department of Safety and Professional Services
1400 East Washington Avenue, Room 112
Madison, WI 53703