If you are thinking that you would like to make a career shift into nursing, you may be wondering how to become a registered nurse in Maryland. There are a wide variety of opportunities in every community—from Annapolis to Hagerstown, Baltimore to Silver Spring, the Atlantic Coast to the Appalachians—and each needs qualified, compassionate nurses.
There are plenty of factors that should go into one’s decision to become a registered nurse (RN):
- What education will you need?
- What does an RN salary look like?
- What kinds of jobs do RNs have?
If you would like to join the more than 51,000 registered nurses in the state, read on to get answers to the above questions and learn how to become a registered nurse in Maryland.
The different paths to become a nurse in Maryland
One of the first things to look into on your career journey is which nursing role you’d like to pursue.
The licensed practical nurse (LPN) route requires a practical nursing certificate from an accredited nursing program. Generally, such programs last about one year and cover biology, pharmacology and nursing, and include hands-on skills education. LPNs support registered nurses and other medical personnel in delivering patient care, including administering certain medications, taking vital signs, treating wounds and so forth.
A registered nurse (RN) can also do all these things, but their education prepares them to also do such things as develop and monitor patient care plans, address patient safety and work in multidisciplinary teams to ensure the best patient outcomes.
Currently, there are two educational degrees that prepare you to become a registered nurse:
- ADN — Associate Degree in Nursing (2–3 years to complete)
- BSN — Bachelor of Science in Nursing (4 years to complete if you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, but as little as 16 months if you do)
While people who complete either program can qualify to become an RN, employers are looking more favorably on RNs with a BSN degree. It is quickly becoming the preferred minimum requirement.
Once students have completed their program of study, which will include hands-on clinical education, they must take the National Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to qualify for licensure. This exam is given by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to ensure that all applicants have mastered the competencies required to be a registered nurse. The exam is required for licensure in all states, commonwealths and territories as a first step in safeguarding the health of patients.
The Maryland Board of Nursing reviews student transcripts and NCLEX-RN exam results, and then verifies the applicant’s identity and status as a Maryland resident before issuing a license to practice.
Another benefit to choosing the RN route is that you can also specialize in certain types of care delivery, such as orthopedic nurse, oncology nurse or trauma nurse. Or, an RN might decide to take on roles outside of patient care at the bedside, such as nurse advocate, forensic nurse or public health nurse (some specializations will require additional education and certification).
Job outlook and salary for Maryland RNs
As you may have seen in the news, there have been many job resignations and early retirements taken among nurses across the country and in Maryland. Some of this is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, further contributing to an existing national nursing shortage. And while Maryland’s COVID cases peaked in January of 2022, there are still plenty of patients who need care and plenty of nursing positions available.
A quick search for “Maryland nursing jobs” shows that there are thousands of positions available for registered nurses in Maryland. These range from adult home care RN to infusion case manager to pediatric case manager and more. In addition, there are hundreds of listings for travel nurses—an ideal opportunity for those who can make extended stays away from their home base. Of course, prior job experience as an RN will determine who is qualified for a given position, but the field in general is wide open.
Information from the Maryland Department of Labor’s Occupational Projections supports the prospects for job growth. The department’s projections for the period between 2018 and 2028 show a significant increase in the number of RN positions, with 60,796 positions in 2018 increasing to 74,031 positions in 2028, a jump of 21.77%.
In addition, salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) taken in May 2020 show a mean annual salary for Maryland RNs as $81,590. This is slightly higher than the national mean salary for RNs at $80,010.
With all this in mind, new nursing graduates may have an unusual opportunity to fast-track their careers. An article by the Advisory Board, a company that provides strategic insight for health care leaders, states that “many hospitals are also hiring new graduates to work in specialized roles in ORs and other areas, allowing them to advance their careers more quickly than they would have before.” The article also said that to cope with nursing shortages, health care organizations are raising baseline pay rates and improving benefits to attract and retain RNs and other workers.
The benefits of an accelerated BSN program
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you might be able to take advantage of an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. These programs are called “accelerated” because a student who has already completed the general education requirements with their first bachelor’s degree can now focus all their coursework on nursing science, and complete the program in a shorter timespan than the normal four-year degree—sometimes in under two years.
Accelerated programs that are offered online also allow students to access a high-quality program without the financial burden of on-campus living expenses. Just because learning is occurring at a distance, however, does not mean that students have poorer peer relationships. Online programs have been designed to encourage interaction with fellow students and faculty.
Entering Maryland nursing as a second career is a win-win
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has reported that second-degree BSN students “excel in class and are eager to gain clinical experiences.” Faculty and employers value the maturity of second-degree BSN students and prize their ability to bring relevant previous career experiences to bear in their roles as students and RNs. You get an opportunity for a fulfilling career and your employer gets a dedicated, well-rounded performer. Win-win.
Look into the online ABSN Program at Marymount University
You can pursue your plan to become an RN in Maryland by enrolling in an online ABSN program at Marymount University. Located in Arlington, Virginia, near the District of Columbia, Marymount is accessible for Maryland-based students.
Join a well-regarded nursing program that features:
- Education with a purpose, centered on Catholic values based on service to others, intellectual curiosity and a global perspective
- Clinical placement and support that allows you to focus on learning rather than logistics
- A five-year NCLEX-RN passing rate of 92%
Marymount University’s nursing programs have been highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, which calls the school one of the Best Regional Universities of the South and among the Best Colleges for Veterans. Our programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Marymount allows you to fast-track your path to becoming an RN with our ABSN.