The Top Nursing Schools in Oregon

February 24, 2022 , Modified on June 29, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Explore top nursing degree programs and schools in Oregon, a state that has taken a proactive approach to help close the nursing shortage gap.

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The Top Nursing Schools in Oregon
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Oregon is a largely rural state with many medically underserved areas. To attract more staff and faculty to their nursing programs, nurses in Oregon are among the highest paid in the country.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) has also advocated for and won staffing plans through the state legislature to manage nurse-to-patient ratios. This protects the nursing staff and patient outcomes.

This guide explores the top nursing programs in Oregon, including information on how to choose the best program for you. You can also find the steps necessary to become a nurse in Oregon and salary information for different cities.

Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing schools and programs in Oregon.

The Best Nursing Schools in Oregon

Nursing programs in Oregon enroll roughly 2,600 students each year and graduate approximately 960 nurses. If you're considering a nursing career, you'll find the top nursing programs in Oregon on this page.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Oregon, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

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How to Choose a Nursing Program in Oregon

The criteria you use to choose a nursing program in Oregon should meet your needs. For example, you may prefer hybrid nursing classes to accommodate family obligations. However, important factors affect all prospective students, such as tuition rates and financial aid.

Some programs offer work-study opportunities to lower the cost for students. Learners attending nursing schools in Oregon should also look at nursing scholarship and grant programs available in the state, such as:

Several schools also offer financial opportunities, such as Linfield University, University of Portland, and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Nursing. Nursing programs throughout the U.S. are struggling with a nursing faculty shortage, including those in Oregon. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 2020 data showed 21 open faculty positions that preferred candidates with a doctorate.

The faculty shortage influences the acceptance rate in your program of choice. According to AACN, nursing schools across the U.S. turned down 80,407 qualified applicants in the 2019-2020 school year because of faculty shortages.

Another factor to consider is the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate for the school. This tells you how well the nursing program prepares students for the examination.

Finally, it is essential that the nursing school in Oregon you choose is accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Many state boards of nursing only grant a license to a nurse who has graduated from an accredited nursing program.

Why Become a Nurse in Oregon

Oregon offers some of the most unique nature experiences in the United States, including parks, lakes, mountains, forests, and coastline. Every beach is free to the public year-round, and many include beautiful lighthouses. Oregon does not charge sales tax and boasts a strong craft beer and coffee culture.

Portland's OHSU Hospital and Providence St. Vincent Medical Center rank nationally in adult and children's specialties. In addition, ONA advocates for laws and regulations that address staffing to protect nurses and patients. These include mandatory overtime, staffing committees, and the provision for a Nursing Staff Advisory Board.

In 2021, ONA found that several hospitals exploited the state of emergency and deviated from staffing ratios. This occurred even when there were no COVID-19 patients in the hospital. In response to this, the state legislature passed House Bill 3016, which placed further restrictions on hospital staffing plans to protect nurses and patient outcomes.

Additionally, House Bill 403 could allow nursing students to offer some patient care opportunities under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN). This bill creates a nursing intern license for students who have had at least one year of nursing school and have passed a skills test.

This may help improve education and practice for students while freeing up time for RNs in the workplace.

The annual nursing salary is well above the national average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual RN salary is $80,010, while the average annual nursing salary in Oregon is $96,230.

Oregon is not a right-to-work state. These are statutes that prohibit an employer or nursing union to require membership in a union for employment. Oregon is also not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which would allow nurses to work across state lines.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Oregon

Nurses in Oregon earn more than the average nursing salary in the United States. Oregon ranks fourth as the top-paying state for RNs, and data from Projections Central indicate a job growth rate of 15.2%. The average nurse practitioner's (NP) annual salary is also higher than the average NP salary in the country. Learn more about RN salaries in Oregon.

However, the difference is not as great as it is for RNs. NP salaries rank 10th as a top-paying state with a projected employment growth of 32%. This is lower than the national projected growth of 45%.

The average cost-of-living index in Oregon is 113.1, compared to 100 for the country overall. The cost-of-living index for housing is 148.9, which drives up the index since many of the other factors are at or below 100.

Nurses in Oregon's metropolitan areas are paid more than those in the rural areas, and Portland is home to the top two hospitals in the state. However, while there are above-average salary opportunities, the cost of living in these areas also tends to be higher.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Oregon
Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas Average Salary for RNs
Portland — Vancouver — Hillsboro $98,700
Eugene $97,050
Medford $93,050
Salem $92,610
Bend — Redmond $92,140
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Oregon

There are several paths to attending a nursing school in Oregon. You may start your journey as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). You could attend an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program.

Although there are several ways to start, they can all lead toward becoming a BSN-prepared nurse, which is highly sought after by employers.

RN Requirements

Some nurses begin the journey to becoming an RN by first becoming a CNA or LPN. However, to get your RN license, you must complete an accredited ADN or BSN program. This qualifies you to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) that you must pass to apply for a license to practice nursing in your state.

The application process for nurse licensure in Oregon begins at the Oregon State Board of Nursing, which regulates the education, licensure, and practice of nursing in the state. You can use the online portal to submit your application for the first time, for endorsement from another state, or to renew your license.

The application process requires a national criminal background check, official school transcripts, and verification of your original and current RN state license if you are applying for endorsement.

You must also submit a fee of $195 for an endorsement and $160 for licensure by examination. License renewal is required every two years. You must submit seven hours of pain management continuing education credits and pay a $100 fee.

APRN Requirements

Oregon requires all advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to graduate from an accredited master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. Applicants must also have an unencumbered RN license in Oregon. An APRN applicant from another state may apply for their RN licensure at the same time.

In the APRN application, the applicant must provide source documents for their education requirements, which may be an MSN or a DNP. They must also provide their certification through a national organization.

There are additional requirements for prescriptive privileges. Fees for the application include $150 plus fees for prescriptive authority and a criminal background check. RN and APRN licenses expire every two years.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Oregon

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Oregon


Are nurses in demand in Oregon?

Oregon has a nursing shortage, which is evident in rural areas. As the state develops programs to address the shortage of hospital staff nurses, the nursing schools in Oregon also are experiencing a shortage of faculty.

This lowers the number of qualified applicants that can be accepted into a nursing program each year.

How long does it take to become an RN in Oregon?

The length of time it takes to become an RN can vary and depends partly on what program you choose. Nurse candidates usually choose between an ADN or a BSN program, which can take 2-4 years to complete.

Most programs don't accept nurses into the program until they have completed nursing prerequisite classes. There are also LPN-to-RN bridge programs that either lead to an ADN or a BSN.

How much does an Oregon nursing license cost?

The application fee for an RN license is $195 if you are applying for an endorsement after having been licensed in another state. The fee is $160 if this is your first application after passing the NCLEX.

Nurses who apply for an APRN license pay a $150 application fee. Additional fees may also apply for a criminal background check and prescriptive privileges.

What is the average NCLEX-RN pass rate in Oregon?

Data from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing show the pass rate for first time, U.S.-educated nursing candidates in Oregon was 90.1% in 2020. This ranks Oregon higher than the national pass rate of 86.6% and ranks Oregon 18th among all states.

This is one factor you may consider as you choose the nursing school in Oregon you wish to attend.

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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