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Idaho Nursing Schools and Programs

| NurseJournal Staff

Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

Due to an aging population of qualified registered nurses (RNs), Idaho may face a substantial nursing shortage in the coming years. As Idaho needs more qualified nursing professionals to meet the state's growing demand, online nursing programs in Idaho offer students a flexible pathway to this in-demand profession.

This guide provides information on RNs, certified nurse assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). Students will learn more about attending an online program versus on-campus options, how to earn nursing licensure in Idaho, and career and salary prospects for graduates. Keep reading to learn more about this growing field and how to kickstart your nursing career in Idaho.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Idaho

Idaho's growing shortage of qualified nursing professionals has led to the state creating programs to recruit and educate more nurses. Around 37% of nurses in Idaho are aged 55 or over, meaning more nurses will soon reach retirement age and further increase demand.

Fortunately, Idaho offers many opportunities for prospective nursing students. The state boasts a lower average tuition rate than neighboring states like Washington and Oregon, implementing a tuition freeze for the 2020-2021 academic year to lock rates without any increases. Idaho also ranks 18th in the country for cost of living, with average costs much lower than nearby states.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Idaho

Nurses in Idaho must undergo a conventional training process, and LPNs in the state can obtain licensure with a year of schooling and hands-on practice. RNs must hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), which takes about two years to earn through one of the nursing programs in Idaho. Once nurses have completed their education, they must pass a licensing exam, along with a few other steps.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    Graduates from nursing schools in Idaho are prepared to work in nursing homes, as teachers, in emergency rooms, or as NPs. Students working toward their online nursing degrees must first determine what level of nursing to pursue. Professionals consider RN licensure as entry level, and those pursuing licensure must possess at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Nurses who want to pursue more advanced certification may obtain their bachelor's degrees through online RN-to-BSN programs in Idaho. Master of science in nursing (MSN) and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs are also available.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Earning a diploma is the quickest way to become a nurse. Some programs require students to complete a clinical experience or internship. Learners should check if they can complete these requirements locally. Program lengths for online nursing degrees vary depending on education level and enrollment type.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    All graduates must pass theNCLEXto practice in Idaho. Many nursing schools in Idaho help students prepare for their licensing tests. Graduates must pay a testing and fingerprint fee. Obtaining licensure does not guarantee future employment. Nurses must renew their license every few years, though renewal periods vary by state. Professionals who earned licensure from a compact state may also practice in Idaho.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Idaho

To earn any type of nursing license, you must complete a nursing education program. RNs need to earn at least an associate degree but often pursue a bachelor's. Earning an online nursing degree in Idaho can prepare you to meet all licensure requirements in the state

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Idaho

Online nursing programs in Idaho offer a wide variety of courses in areas like anatomy and physiology, human development, and pharmacology. Depending on the degree level, course content may include more in-depth or foundational knowledge. Although course selection and degree requirements vary by school and program, the courses below serve as some examples of common offerings.

Nursing students must complete clinical hours during their program, and online students generally complete this requirement at sites in their home communities.

Skills in Patient Care

Students explore team-based approaches to patient care. The course emphasizes professional practices for interacting with patients and providing quality care, along with skills for working effectively within a larger care team.

Human Anatomy and Physiology

Generally offered in multiple courses at advancing levels, this course explores the various body systems and functions. Foundational courses often cover the skeletomuscular, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, followed by further coursework in other systems.

Pharmacology in Nursing

This course examines the use of drug therapy throughout the lifespan. Students explore the ethical and legal implications of therapeutic drugs and study the interactions of drugs with different body systems.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Online RN programs in Idaho offer students a flexible pathway to nursing licensure. Online RN-to-BSN options in the state often provide accelerated options, allowing nursing students to graduate in as little as three semesters. Schools may deliver online nursing programs in various formats, including fully online and hybrid options. Hybrid options allow students to complete coursework on campus and online. Nursing students must complete clinical hours during their program, and online students generally complete this requirement at sites in their home communities.

However, even fully online nursing programs in Idaho include some in-person requirements. Nursing students must complete clinical hours during their program, and online students generally complete this requirement at sites in their home communities.

Students can pursue nursing licenses through fully online programs, including CNA, RN, LPN, and NP licensure. Many students may prefer the flexible, accessible, and accelerated nature of online degrees to on-campus options, particularly those who wish to keep working full time while pursuing their degrees.

Nursing Licensure in Idaho

Nursing licensing requirements vary by state, generally mandated by state nursing boards. The Idaho Board of Nursing regulates all nursing practice in the state, including RN, CNA, LPN, and NP practice. Nursing practice statutes also vary from state to state. In Idaho, for example, NPs hold full practice status, allowing them to prescribe medication without supervision. Idaho also offers a few state-based financial assistance programs for nurses working in high-need areas.

Idaho also participates in the nurse licensure compact (NLC), which allows nurses to hold multi-state licenses, permitting them to practice in other compact states. The sections below offer more detailed information on the various nursing licenses available in Idaho, including education requirements, clinical experience, exams, and the renewal process.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

The table below outlines the requirements for different types of nursing licensure, including education and exams, as mandated by the Idaho Board of Nursing.

Certified Nurse Assistant In Idaho, CNAs do not hold licenses, and their scope of practice differs from other nursing professions in the state. According to the state's nursing board, CNAs in Idaho hold the official title of "unlicensed assistive personnel" and must work under the supervision of a licensed RN. To become a CNA in Idaho, students must complete an approved CNA course. The course must include a minimum of 120 hours, with 80 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of clinical experience. Upon completing the course, prospective CNAs may sit for the required exam, which they can take up to three times. CNAs renew their licenses every two years. To maintain their licenses, CNAs in Idaho must show proof of at least eight paid hours of work as a CNA. Professionals do not need to fulfill formal continuing education requirements for this position.

Idaho Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Approved CNA course with 80 classroom hours
  • Additional Clinical Hours: 40 clinical hours included in CNA course
  • Exams: Idaho nurse aide exam
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: Must show proof of at least eight hours of paid work during each renewal period
Licensed Practical Nurse LPNs in Idaho work under the supervision of a licensed RN or physician. To earn the LPN license in Idaho, students must complete an LPN training program approved by the state nursing board. The program curriculum must cover topics including concepts in: Behavioral and social sciences Physical and biological sciences Communication and information systems Basic principles in nursing care Legal and ethical issues and responsibilities in nursing Upon completing the approved LPN program, students must apply to take the NCLEX-PN, an exam designed for practical nurses. Idaho nursing statutes also mandate LPNs must exhibit good physical and mental health to practice effectively. Once licensed, Idaho LPNs must renew their licenses every even-numbered year. LPNs must practice for at least 100 hours during that period and complete 15 hours of continuing education, or one semester credit hour of nursing education in an approved nursing program.

Idaho Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Approved practical nursing program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years on even-numbered years
  • Continuing Education: 15 continuing education hours, or one semester credit hour of nursing education within the renewal period
Registered Nurse RNs in Idaho must graduate from a board-approved nursing education program. This includes an associate degree RN or a BSN program. Upon graduation, prospective RNs must apply to take the required NCLEX-RN exam, subject to approval through the board. Students must apply for the exam within 12 months of graduating, or the steps to licensure may differ. All applicants for RN licensure in Idaho must submit a notarized application, a notarized affidavit of graduation, and a criminal background check with fingerprinting. Nurses coming from other states, particularly those outside of the Nursing Licensure Compact, must submit proof of completing the same requirements for licensure in Idaho. As a member of the NLC, Idaho allows RNs and LPNs to hold multi-state licenses. These licenses allow these nursing professionals to practice in any of the compact states, eliminating extra licensing costs.

Idaho Licensure Requirements

  • Education: ADN or BSN
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years on odd-numbered years
  • Continuing Education: One semester credit hour of nursing education or 15 hours of approved continuing education
Nurse Practitioner Referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) in Idaho, NPs must hold current RN licensure before pursuing APRN endorsement. Generally, APRN education programs also require applicants to hold this license for clinical internships and practicum experiences. Each prospective APRN in Idaho must complete an approved graduate or post-graduate APRN program. The program must hold accreditation from a national certifying body approved by the board. Additionally, APRNs must hold certification through one of these recognized credentialing bodies. Each national certifying agency holds different requirements for earning certification. All prospective APRNs will have to take a national certifying exam. APRNs in Idaho must complete at least 30 contact hours of continuing education during each two-year renewal period, including at least 10 hours focused on pharmacology. APRNs must also complete at least 200 practice hours during each renewal period.

Idaho Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Approved graduate or postgraduate advanced practice nursing program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: Exam provided by a certifying body approved by the board
  • Renewal Frequency: Biennially, on odd-numbered years
  • Continuing Education: Must show evidence of maintaining a national certification

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Idaho FAQ

CAN SOMEONE BECOME A NURSE IN TWO YEARS? Yes. A standard RN education program takes around two years to complete. However, many nurses choose to then pursue BSNs, which require an additional 1-2 years of study and prepare for more advanced nursing roles.
DOES AN ONLINE NURSING DEGREE HAVE THE SAME VALUE AS AN ON-CAMPUS DEGREE? Yes. Online nursing schools in Idaho hold the same accreditation as their on-campus counterparts and provide the same rigorous education. Online degrees look the same as on-campus degrees and hold the same value.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN RN LICENSE IN IDAHO? This depends on several factors, including the specific nursing education program you choose, whether you pass the NCLEX-RN on the first try, and how long it takes you to complete all the required paperwork.
IS IDAHO A GOOD STATE FOR NURSES? Idaho anticipates a growing nursing shortage as current RNs age and retire, and the population in the state ages and requires more care. These factors yield a growing demand for nursing professionals.
IS IDAHO A NURSE COMPACT STATE? Yes. Idaho participates in the NLC, which allows nurses with a license from Idaho to earn a multi-state license, permitting them to practice in any of the participating compact states without applying for new licensure.

Idaho Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

In the coming years, the career landscape for nursing professions may drastically change in Idaho. According to data from a report by The Idaho Nursing Workforce, the state will experience a growing nursing shortage in the coming years without an influx of qualified nursing professionals. As current nurses in Idaho reach retirement age and the state's population also ages, the state will require more healthcare professionals.

This section offers more detailed information on salary and job growth for CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and NPs in Idaho and neighboring states. This data features average salaries across entire states, and actual salary and job growth depend on many factors. No education level or specific degree guarantees salary or employment.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Idaho, by Type

Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $24,110 7.2%
Licensed Practical Nurse $38,230 7.3%
Registered Nurse $59,470 12.9%
Nurse Practitioner $95,970 30.4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Idaho, by Type

Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $27,400 21.7%
Licensed Practical Nurse $44,280 13.78%
Registered Nurse $67,110 29.4%
Nurse Practitioner $102,600 34.8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Montana $29,110 $43,770 $67,450 $103,510
Wyoming $30,910 $46,790 $67,360 $116,030
Utah $27,880 $48,130 $65,670 $105,840
Nevada $35,130 $57,140 $85,620 $110,750
Oregon $33,230 $53,240 $91,080 $110,010
Washington $32,130 $55,420 $82,670 $117,650

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant


CNAs in Idaho do not hold any formal license, so becoming a CNA only requires taking a course and passing an exam. For those without any existing nursing education, beginning as a CNA may serve as an ideal pathway to more advanced roles. In Idaho, projections indicate that the demand for CNAs should continue to rise, with a projected job growth of 21.7% from 2016-2026. BLS also projects jobs for CNAs to grow nationally.

Licensed Practical Nurse


In Idaho, LPNs work under the supervision of licensed RNs and physicians. Working as an LPN may offer nursing students a way to work toward a nursing degree and gain clinical experience. BLS projections indicate that jobs for LPNs should grow by 13.7% from 2016-2026, which is higher than the national growth rate for the profession. LPNs in neighboring states tend to earn more on average, but LPNs in Idaho may hold multi-state licenses to practice in other compact states.

Registered Nurse


Due to expected shortages of nursing professionals in Idaho, jobs for RNs are projected to grow by 29.4% from 2016-2026, substantially faster than the national growth rate. On average, RNs in Idaho earn just slightly less than the national average salary, with neighboring states like Nevada, Oregon, and Washington offering higher average salaries. This may change in the coming years, as qualified RNs become more and more in-demand in Idaho.

Nurse Practitioner


In Idaho, NPs work under a full practice status, which allows them to prescribe medications and provide primary care services without the direct supervision of a licensed physician. As Idaho residents continue to age and require more care, the demand for nurses and NPs will grow, increasing demand. BLS data indicates that jobs for NPs in Idaho will grow by 34.8% from 2016-2026, which is much faster than the national rate.

Nursing Resources for Idaho

  • This organization represents RNs in Idaho by advocating for the profession and aiming to improve care quality through professional development. Members receive access to online nursing publications.
  • Affiliated with the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, this independent organization offers continuing education opportunities, reduced conference rates, networking, and professional development. Student members can apply for available scholarships.
  • The Idaho Board of Nursing regulates all nursing practice in the state. Nurses at all levels must apply for licensure and license renewal through the online portal on the board's website.
  • This organization aims to advance nursing practice in Idaho through professional development and collaboration with other nursing organizations in the state. Members can attend a yearly conference, pursue leadership courses, and apply for scholarships.
  • The Idaho Emergency Nurses Association offers its members many benefits, including free continuing education courses, special pricing on certification, grants and scholarships, and subscriptions to nursing publications.

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