Top Utah Nursing Schools and Programs

September 21, 2021 · 6 Min Read

Online nursing programs in Utah appeal to students just beginning their studies and nurses seeking to advance in their profession.

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Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

Online nursing programs in Utah appeal to students just beginning their studies and nurses seeking to advance in their profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job openings for all nursing occupations in Utah to grow significantly faster than the national average from 2016-2026. The demand for nurses stems in part from Utah's growing population. The state birth rate ranks among the highest in the nation, and the death rate sits among the lowest.

This guide provides information about educational and licensing requirements for certified nurse assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). Continue reading to learn more about online nursing schools in Utah, along with career and salary prospects for professionals in the field.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Utah?

The need for RNs and advanced practice nurses remains unmet in Utah, especially in skilled nursing and long-term care settings. In response to the rapidly expanding need for highly skilled, college-educated nurses, several schools in Utah have developed undergraduate and graduate online nursing programs.

The overall affordability of a college education in Utah makes it an ideal choice for nursing degree-seekers. The state offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the United States. Through membership in the western undergraduate exchange, several schools in Utah offer discounted tuition rates to out-of-state students. Utah's healthcare workforce financial assistance program provides educational loan repayment assistance to nurses willing to relocate or continue to practice in underserved areas.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Utah

Utah's nursing school graduates undergo a licensing process similar to those in most other states. Utah's process includes unique licensing costs and governing bodies. To attain licensure in Utah, nursing graduates must pass the NCLEX and pay a licensing fee to the Utah Board of Nursing.

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

    All nurses in the United States must complete the NCLEX, for which candidates must hold at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Online bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs in Utah prepare candidates to take the NCLEX-RN and open opportunities for positions as travel nurses or nurse anesthetists. A master of science in nursing (MSN) degree qualifies graduates to become NPs and advanced practice nurses. Students seeking positions in healthcare management or college-level teaching should earn doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees from one of the nursing schools in Utah.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    After choosing a degree, students must decide whether to enroll in an on-campus or online nursing program. Admission requirements for online nursing programs typically resemble those for on-campus programs. Because nursing programs impose science requirements, most nursing colleges in Utah require applicants to complete prerequisites in biology and chemistry. Most Utah nursing programs, both online and on campus, require students to complete a practicum to gain practical training and real-world experience. Program length varies by school and specific degree. Accelerated nursing programs in Utah allow students to earn their degrees more quickly.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    The NCLEX-RN, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), tests candidates on various areas of the nursing field, including safe and effective care environments, health promotion and maintenance, physiological integrity, and psychosocial integrity. The exam costs $200 and consists of 75-265 multiple-choice questions. Students must complete the NCLEX-RN within six hours, and the exam concludes once its software accurately determines the candidate's competence level. Students attending nursing schools online in Utah prepare for the exam through their coursework, but the NCSBN suggests additional preparation. After passing the exam, candidates must apply for licensure in the state in which they wish to practice.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Utah

As healthcare needs expand throughout the state, employment projections for all nursing categories continue to grow. State licensure requires an undergraduate degree as the minimum educational qualification. Advanced practice nurses need a graduate degree to obtain a license. Online nursing programs in Utah offer a convenient way to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to enter many different nursing careers.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Utah?

Online nursing programs establish distinct curriculum requirements for each type of degree, but most programs offer similar core courses. BSN programs, while differing from school to school, typically require students to complete foundational courses in areas like anatomy, biology, and chemistry, followed by classes in nursing practice. We've compiled a few common courses below.

Community Health Nursing

Community health nursing combines public health policy with professional, clinical nursing practice. The course addresses illness and disease prevention, safe health practices, epidemiology, nutrition, and risk assessment for communities across socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

Pathophysiology and Pharmacology

Nursing students gain an understanding of pharmacological principles and pathophysiological mechanisms across the lifespan. The course covers the major drug classifications, the most common prescription drugs, and the therapeutic and toxic effects of drugs.

Research and Statistics for Evidence-Based Nursing Practice

Licensed nurses must develop competency in research applications based on evidence-based practice. Students in this course learn the basic research methods as applied to nursing practice, statistical applications, and data analysis.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Earning an online nursing degree offers several advantages. Distance learning works particularly well for students with family or work responsibilities. In a geographically diverse state like Utah, an online nursing degree appeals to students living in rural areas and smaller towns who may have difficulty accessing traditional brick-and-mortar programs.

Distance learners enrolled in accredited online nursing programs in Utah receive the same quality education as campus-based programs, allowing them to acquire the training they need to enter their intended field of practice. Many programs deliver coursework entirely online, although most require in-person attendance for hybrid classes, exams, and orientations.

While requirements vary by degree level, online programs generally require the same time commitment as in-person degrees. Some schools offer accelerated degrees that take into account work experience and previous coursework. All nursing degrees require online students to complete clinical experiences, but most programs permit students to arrange for placements near their homes.

Nursing Licensure in Utah

The Utah State Board of Nursing establishes standards for nursing practice and issues and renews nursing licenses. The state joined the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) in 2018. LPNs and RNs licensed in eNLC states may practice in Utah and other compact states without applying for additional licenses. Like most state licensing boards, Utah requires CNAs to pass a state competency exam, while LPNs and RNs must pass the appropriate NCLEX.

However, unlike most states, Utah, as a reduced practice state, has placed some limitations on NPs. While these professionals are recognized as primary care providers, NPs must obtain consultation and referral plans (CRPs) with supervising physicians. They may administer prescription drugs, but prescriptive authority for schedule II-V controlled substances requires a CRP and consultation with a physician.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

This chart summarizes licensing requirements for several nursing fields in Utah. Nursing students planning to work in Utah should consult the Utah State Board of Nursing for current regulations.

Certified Nurse Assistant Prospective CNAs in Utah must first complete a program approved by the Utah nursing assistant registry. The registry provides a list of approved programs offered throughout the state at nursing homes, hospitals, community and technical colleges, and independent training centers. Most programs consist of 80 hours, but some schools may require additional courses. Within one year of completing the training program, each CNA candidate must pass a state-administered competency test. The two-part exam requires a computerized written component and a skill test in which candidates must demonstrate their ability to perform specific nursing assistant duties, such as personal hygiene care and taking vital signs. Test-takers who do not pass after three attempts must re-enroll in a training program. A passing grade qualifies the candidate for CNA certification and automatic inclusion on the state registry. Candidates may work as nursing assistants for up to 120 days while they complete training and testing requirements.

Utah Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Completion of 75-100 hours of coursework and supervised training in a nursing assistant program approved by the Utah nursing assistant registry
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: Utah nursing registry state certification exam
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: At least 200 hours of nursing-related duties at a licensed facility under the supervision of a licensed nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse The path to becoming an LPN in Utah begins by enrolling in an ACEN-accredited practical nurse training program. Application requirements include a high school diploma, physical exam, immunization documentation, drug screen, and criminal background check. Candidates can complete most programs in one year of full-time attendance. Students participate in clinical sessions in health settings and take courses in areas such as nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, and nutrition. Aspiring LPNs may apply for licensure and register for the NCLEX-PN exam in their last semester or at least two months before they plan to take the test. After the state verifies you have completed all requirements, the test vendor, PearsonVUE, will issue an authorization to test (ATT). Candidates must schedule and take the exam within 90 days of receiving the ATT. The NCLEX-PN assesses nursing skills in four major areas: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Candidates who pass the exam receive notification from the State Board within 48 hours but must wait approximately six weeks for the LPN license.

Utah Licensure Requirements

  • Education: High school diploma and completion of a practical nurse program approved by the Utah State Board of Nursing
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 200 practice hours, plus 15 state-approved continuing hours; or 30 state-approved continuing education hours; or 400 practice hours
Registered Nurse Prospective RNs in Utah must complete an approved education program that prepares them to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. The State Board accepts ACEN-accredited ADNs or BSNs. Curriculum requirements differ by degree level but typically cover nursing fundamentals, pathophysiology, pharmacology, ethics, and clinical theory and practice. Candidates apply for licensure through the State Board during their final semester to receive the license as soon as they become eligible. The application requires a fingerprint-based criminal background check, official transcripts sent directly from the school, and separate registration for the NCLEX-RN exam. Students may schedule their exams after receiving authorization to test from PearsonVUE. Successful candidates usually receive their RN licenses in 3-4 weeks. Candidates who fail the exam may apply for another testing date up to eight times during a year but must wait 45 days before retaking the exam.

Utah Licensure Requirements

Nurse Practitioner Each NP in Utah, like other types of advanced practice nurses, must hold a valid RN license. NPs must earn at least an MSN and obtain national certification in their specialization. The NP licensing process requires applicants to pass a national certification exam in the intended practice specialty area administered by a board-recognized national credentialing agency. NPs must acquire certification within five years of finishing their graduate program. The application also requires a criminal background check and official transcripts sent directly from the graduate program. The State Board issues licenses to candidates within three weeks of passing the certification exam. Candidates who have completed their graduate degree but not yet received national certification may apply for an intern license. This temporary license, valid for 180 days from time of issue, permits NP candidates to work under the supervision of an APRN or doctor while they complete the certification process.

Utah Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Valid RN license; MSN or DNP from a program with ACEN or CCNE accreditation
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN; national certification in a specialty from an approved national certification agency recommended but not required
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 30 hours of continuing education and 400 hours of practice; completion of specific continuing education requirements for national certification renewal

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Utah FAQ

What Nursing Field Makes the Most Money? NPs, with annual mean wages of $110,030 nationally, earn more than LPNs, RNs, physical therapists, and respiratory therapists. NPs in Utah receive significantly higher earnings than other nurses in the state.
Can Someone Become a Nurse in Two Years? LPNs may finish their training and enter the field in 18-24 months. Although most RNs complete a four-year BSN, Utah also issues RN licenses to graduates of ADN programs that typically require only two years of study.
How Should I Choose What Nursing Field to Go Into? Students interested in nursing careers should consider their personal interests, professional goals, and how they function in challenging environments. Before choosing a field, learn about the training requirements, employment demand for the field, and opportunities for advancement.
Does an Online Nursing Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree? Accredited online nursing programs in Utah deliver the same quality education as campus-based schools, preparing their graduates for licensing exams and providing the knowledge and skills to enter an array of careers.
Is Utah a Nurse Compact State? In 2018, Utah became a member of the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC). This agreement grants LPNs and RNs licensed in a member state the mobility to practice in all compact states without having to become recertified.

Utah Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

While undergraduate or graduate education has become a highly desirable qualification for nursing jobs, earning a degree does not guarantee employment. Career and salary prospects depend on many factors, including the job outlook in a particular geographic area and the specialized training that employers look for when hiring.

The Utah Medical Education Council projects the overall demand for licensed nurses to rise from 2014-2030 in response to population growth, anticipated retirements, and the expanding need for healthcare. Employers and training programs in Utah seek to reduce racial and gender imbalances in nursing by broadening opportunities for underrepresented groups. Utah also recognizes the need for licensed nurses with BSN degrees or higher. BLS projections indicate that RN and NP jobs in Utah will grow significantly faster than the national average.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Utah, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $27,880 30.8%
Licensed Practical Nurse $48,130 20.2%
Registered Nurse $65,670 36.0%
Nurse Practitioner $105,840 50.9%

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
Idaho $27,400 $44,280 $67,110 $102,600
Wyoming $30,910 $46,790 $71,470 $116,030
Colorado $32,610 $51,210 $74,240 $111,210
New Mexico $28,310 $47,560 $71,730 $109,810
Arizona $31,450 $54,090 $77,000 $110,750
Nevada $35,130 $57,140 $85,620 $110,750

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant

CNAs in Utah earn less than licensed nurses. However, CNAs complete a shorter training program than licensed nurses, enabling them to enter the workforce quickly and spend less than they would pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree. Mean annual wages for CNAs in Utah fall below those of its neighboring states, except for Idaho. Salt Lake City pays the highest mean annual wages at $29,420, but the less populated central and southern areas of the state pay only slightly lower rates.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Occupational projections for LPNs in Utah indicate a 20.2% increase in jobs from 2016-2026, which is a much faster rate of growth than the 12.3% anticipated for LPNs nationally. LPNs earned a mean annual wage of $48,130 in 2018, over $1,080 higher than the national average. LPNs who work in Salt Lake City, Utah's capital and most populous area, made a mean annual wage of $55,930. The top 10% of earners in Salt Lake City report annual mean wages of $78,330.

Registered Nurse

Utah anticipates a projected 30.2% increase in job growth from 2016-2026, which is almost double the national rate for these nursing professionals. While the employment prospects look healthy, mean annual wages in Utah fall almost $10,000 below the national average for RNs. RNs in Utah earned a mean annual wage of $64,670 in 2018, with the top earners in the 90th percentile making over $80,750. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area employs the highest number of RNs and offers the highest salaries.

Nurse Practitioner

Although the annual mean salary for NPs in Utah lags behind the national average, these advanced practice nurses earn over $40,000 more than RNs in the state. Occupational projections anticipate an astounding 50% increase in job growth for NPs, compared to 36.1% for the entire U.S. The Ogden-Clearfield area in the northwest corner of the state offers the highest mean annual wages of $127,750 annually, followed by St. George, near the Arizona-Nevada border, where NPs earn $107,180 a year.

Nursing Resources for Utah

  • Serving a membership of over 40,000 RNs, the UNA sponsors an annual meeting, legislation hearings, and workgroups on issues that affect the profession. This association partners with the American Nurses Association to offer dual membership in both groups.
  • This nonprofit advocates on behalf of advanced practice nurses in Utah to increase recognition and broaden their scope of practice. The association sponsors a career center, awards for excellence, and scholarship opportunities.
  • This state agency establishes licensure regulations and continuing education requirements and administers license applications and renewals. The board provides resources on the Utah Nurse Practice Act, eNLC rules, NCLEX examinations, and professional nursing associations.
  • Designed for nursing students seeking initial licensure in the state, this group provides mentoring opportunities and educational and career resources. The association hosts an annual convention focusing on practice and policy issues.
  • UONL, in partnership with the American Organization of Nurse Executives, provides professional development, mentoring, and networking opportunities for nurses in leadership positions. The organization monitors legislation affecting the profession and provides career resources.

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