How to Become an RN in Kentucky (A Complete 2023 Guide)

How to Become an RN in Kentucky (A Complete Guide)

So you’ve decided to become an RN in Kentucky. 

Great choice!

However, you need to know that the path to an RN career is long and winding. You need to put in a lot of time, effort, and investment. 

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. 

We’re going to make a roadmap for you to make the journey easier to navigate. 

Yes, we’re going to give you a complete guide on how to become an RN in Kentucky. We won’t leave out any detail.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started right away!

The 6 Steps to Becoming an RN in Kentucky 

Here are the 6 main steps to becoming an RN in Kentucky: 

  1. Describe your ideal nursing career
  2. Devote time for pre-college preparation
  3. Decide on a nursing degree
  4. Determine which school to attend
  5. Deliver your licensing requirements
  6. Develop strategies for job hunting

These all begin with the letter “D” to make it easier to memorize. 

Now, let’s get into the details for each step!

Step 1: Describe Your Ideal Nursing Career

Let’s start at the end. 

This might sound strange. But, knowing where you want your nursing career to be in the future is an excellent anchor for your decisions.

So, you know you want to be a nurse. But what kind of RN do you want to be?

Do you see yourself working in a hospital your entire career? Or do you want to specialize in a particular field like mental health or pediatrics? Maybe you want to become a nurse leader or an APRN….

Do you want to go into teaching? 

As we said, knowing the answer to these questions will impact your decisions. 

Step 2: Devote Time for Pre-College Preparation

If you plan early on that you want to become an RN in Kentucky, then you’re in luck. This means you can start preparing straight away. 

Preparation doesn’t begin when you enter nursing school — it starts way earlier than that. You can even start when you’re still in high school!

Here is how you can build a solid foundation:

  • Interview your school nurse
  • Volunteer at a hospital, an assisted living facility, or other locations that employ nurses
  • Learn basic life support or first aid
  • Keep yourself updated about trends in the nursing field

Of course, it’s not just about your extracurriculars. Don’t forget about your GPA.

It also helps to take pre-college courses aligned with what nursing schools require. Sure, nursing schools have varying prerequisites, but the most common ones are:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 to 4 years of Math (This includes algebra and geometry)
  • 2 to 4 years of Science (This includes biology and chemistry. Physics and computer science are encouraged but not required)
  • 3 to 4 years of Social Sciences
  • 2 years of Foreign Language

Step 3: Decide on a Nursing Degree

Your nursing degree will determine which RN you become in the future. 

For RNs in Kentucky, you can either get an Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Here is a table that provides a side-by-side comparison that may help you decide on your nursing degree.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Program Length:18 to 24 months36 to 48 months 
Program Focus:Nursing concepts, competencies, and clinical practice.Everything covered in an ADN program PLUS management, ethics, and public health, among others.
Tuition:More Affordable More expensive
Career Opportunities:LessMore
Potential Practice Areas:Intensive care
Emergency department
Mental health
Intensive care
Emergency department
Mental health
Nursing Forensics
Case Management
Nurse Leader / Manager
Nursing Salary:LowerHigher

If you need to start earning sooner, perhaps an ADN is best. You can always go back and complete a BSN later on. Just a warning, this is not the most efficient process.

If you know you want to become a Nurse Practitioner or step into a leadership role, a BSN may be the wiser choice.

Ultimately, the choice is yours.  

Step 4: Determine Which School to Attend

Next in line is choosing a nursing school. 

Remember, this is where you’re spending the next 2 to 4 years of your life, so it’s a crucial decision point.

You can always look up the best nursing schools in Kentucky and go with what comes out on top. However, it’s even better if you evaluate your options independently. 

After all, what’s best for the majority might not necessarily be the best for you.

That said, there are several things you should consider before choosing a nursing school:

  • Education costs – tuition fee costs vary between nursing schools, regardless of what degree you take. You don’t want to put yourself under financial stress, so tuition is a significant factor. 

You can check with schools if they offer financial aid programs. It may make it easier for you to manage your finances.

  • Class size and instructor quality – your teachers will be your primary source of knowledge. Check how many instructors teach full-time (versus part-time) and whether their backgrounds cover multiple nursing specialties.

Another consideration is the size of each class. Smaller student-teacher ratios mean instructors can pay more attention to their students and provide more support if needed.

  • NCLEX pass rates – your school plays a significant part when taking your NCLEX exam. Check each school’s average NCLEX pass rate and see which are the schools with higher passes on the first try. 
  • Availability of career placement programs – eventually, you’ll have to put everything you’ve learned into practice. That’s where schools with job placements come in handy. Some colleges have a program in place where you can meet a placement officer before graduation. It doesn’t guarantee you a job, but it helps you determine how to fine-tune your job hunt approach.

Once you find the nursing school for YOU, you can get started on your nursing degree.

Step 5: Deliver Your Licensing Requirements

Now, setting up your career goals, your pre-college preparation, your choice of degree and school — and all your effort — all boils down to this. 

Getting your RN license.

So here are all the steps to getting your RN license in Kentucky:

  1. Submit your examination application to the Kentucky Board of Nursing (KBN). You can do this online or send a paper application form
  2. Pay the application fee of $125 for online and $165 for the paper application.
  3. Take and pass the Jurisprudence Exam. You will need to pay the exam fee of $15 and get a score of at least 80% to pass. 
  4. Take and pass a state and federal criminal background check through IdentoGO. You’ll have to pay the $51.25 fee. Note: you can do this early on as the processing might take some weeks. 
  5. Make sure your nursing school directly sends your nursing program certified list or official transcripts to the KBN.
  6. Once all this is verified by the KBN, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice. 
  7. Register and schedule for the NCLEX exam with Pearson Vue. You will have to pay the exam fee of $200.
  8. Pass the NCLEX exam 
  9. Get your RN license

Here are some things to note. 

Once you submit your application, you have a whole year to complete everything. If not, then you’ll have to repeat the process.

Also, when you are waiting for your application to be processed by the KBN, they will issue you a provisional license valid for 6 months. However, if you fail the NCLEX, this license will become invalid. 

Step 6: Develop Strategies for Job Hunting

So what’s left? It’s landing your first nursing job!

As we mentioned earlier, a placement program can give you an advantage. However, nothing should stop you from doing it by yourself. Don’t worry — it’s not that difficult!

Avoid the shot-in-the-dark approach. Don’t just send your CV randomly to every facility you know. Narrow down your options by looking at the possibilities and matching them with your interests and preferences.

Try gathering more information about these places. Use your connections and reach out to former colleagues, classmates, or professors. You can also check out job postings on the websites and other requirements.

And once you find the perfect nursing job for you, send in your CV and wait to be interviewed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

To help you even further, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about RNs in Kentucky. 

How often do I need to renew my RN license in Kentucky?

You need to renew your license annually in Kentucky. So you need to comply with the renewal requirements each year.

What are the RN license renewal requirements in Kentucky?

Since RNs need to renew their licenses annually, they only need 14 CE hours to complete the process.

Is Kentucky part of the NLC?

Yes, Kentucky is part of the nursing licensure compact. You can become a nurse in another compact state without getting a license. However, you must hold a multistate license.

How much do RNs earn in Kentucky?

Registered Nurses in the U.S. earn an average of $82,750 per year. Those based in Kentucky get $67,260. That’s around 18% lower.

Remember, though, that several factors may cause your compensation to vary. That includes your degree, your role, and which healthcare employed you.

Helpful Resources for Kentucky RNs

List of Associate Degree Programs (ADNs) in Kentucky

Here’s a list of ADN programs approved by the Kentucky BON:

American National University
2376 Sir Barton Way, Lexington, KY 40509, United States
Phone: +1 859-253-0621

Ashland Community & Technical College
1400 College Drive, Ashland, KY 41101, United States
Phone: +1 606-326-2000

Big Sandy Community & Technical College
1 Bert Combs Dr, Prestonsburg, KY 41653, United States
Phone: +1 606-886-3863

Bluegrass Community & Technical College – Leestown/Lexington
64 Opportunity Way, Lexington, KY 40511, United States
Phone: +1 859-246-6200

Bluegrass Community & Technical College – Lawrenceburg
1500 Bypass N US 127, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342, United States
Phone: +1 502-839-8488

Campbellsville University
1 University Dr, Campbellsville, KY 42718, United States
Phone: +1 800-264-6014

Campbellsville University – Harrodsburg
1150 Danville Rd, Harrodsburg, KY 40330, United States
Phone: +1 859-605-1389

Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475, United States
Phone: +1 859-622-1000

Elizabethtown Community & Technical College Approved
600 College Street Rd, Elizabethtown, KY 42701, United States
Phone: +1 270-769-2371

Galen College of Nursing
3050 Terra Crossing Blvd, Louisville, KY 40245, United States
Phone: +1 502-813-4747

Galen College of Nursing – Hazard Campus
101 Airport Gardens Rd #200, Hazard, KY 41701, United States
Phone: +1 606-629-3121

Gateway Community & Technical College
500 Technology Way, Florence, KY 41042, United States
Phone: +1 859-441-4500

Hazard Community & Technical College
1 Community College Dr, Hazard, KY 41701, United States
Phone: +1 606-436-5721

Hazard Community & Technical College – Lees Campus/Jackson
601 Jefferson Ave, Jackson, KY 41339, United States
Phone: +1 606-666-7521

Henderson Community College
2660 S Green St, Henderson, KY 42420, United States
Phone: +1 270-827-1867

Hopkinsville Community College
720 North Dr, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, United States
Phone: +1 270-707-3700

Jefferson Community & Technical College – Main/Downton Campus
109 E Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202, United States
Phone: +1 502-213-5333

Kentucky State University
400 E Main St, Frankfort, KY 40601, United States
Phone: +1 502-597-6000

Lincoln Memorial University – Corbin Campus
6965 Cumberland Gap Pkwy, Harrogate, TN 37752, United States
Phone: +1 423-869-3611

Madisonville Community College
2000 College Drive Madisonville, KY 42431
Phone (270) 821-2250

Maysville Community & Technical College
1755 U.S. 68 Business, Maysville, KY 41056, United States
Phone: +1 855-469-6282

Maysville Community & Technical College – Licking Valley
319 Webster Ave, Cynthiana, KY 41031, United States
Phone: +1 855-469-6282

Midway University
512 E Stephens St, Midway, KY 40347, United States
Phone: +1 800-952-4122

Morehead State University
150 University Blvd, Morehead, KY 40351, United States
Phone: +1 800-585-6781

Morehead State University – Mt. Sterling
150 University Blvd, Morehead, KY 40351, United States
Phone: +1 800-585-6781

Owensboro Community & Technical College
4800 New Hartford Rd, Owensboro, KY 42303, United States
Phone: +1 270-686-4400

Somerset Community College
808 Monticello St, Somerset, KY 42501, United States
Phone: +1 606-679-8501

Somerset Community College – Laurel
808 Monticello Street Somerset, KY 42501
(877) 629-9722

Visit the Kentucky BON website for updates.

List of Baccalaureate Degree Programs (BSNs) in Kentucky

Here’s a list of BSN programs approved by the Kentucky BON:

Beckfield College
16 Spiral Dr, Florence, KY 41042, United States
Phone: +1 859-371-9393

Bellarmine University
2001 Newburg Rd, Louisville, KY 40205, United States
Phone: +1 502-272-8000

Berea College
101 Chestnut St, Berea, KY 40403, United States
Phone: +1 859-985-3000

Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475, United States
Phone: +1 859-622-1000

Galen College of Nursing
10200 Dr M.L.K. Jr St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33716, United States
Phone: +1 727-722-9292

Kentucky Christian University
100 Academic Pkwy, Grayson, KY 41143, United States
Phone: +1 800-522-3181

Lindsey Wilson College
210 Lindsey Wilson St, Columbia, KY 42728, United States
Phone: +1 800-264-0138

Morehead State University
210 Lindsey Wilson St, Columbia, KY 42728, United States
Phone: +1 800-264-0138

Murray State University
1375 Chestnut St, Murray, KY 42071, United States
Phone: +1 800-272-4678

Northern Kentucky University
1 Louie B Nunn Dr, Highland Heights, KY 41099, United States
Phone: +1 859-572-5220

Spalding University
Egan Leadership Center, 901 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40203, United States
Phone: +1 502-585-9911

Thomas More University
333 Thomas More Pkwy, Crestview Hills, KY 41017, United States
Phone: +1 859-341-5800

Union College
310 College St, Barbourville, KY 40906, United States
Phone: +1 800-489-8646

University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506, United States
Phone: +1 859-257-9000

University of Louisville
2301 S 3rd St, Louisville, KY 40292, United States
Phone: +1 502-852-5555

University of Louisville – Owensboro
555 South Floyd Street
Suite 3019
Louisville, KY 40202

Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, KY 42101, United States
Phone: +1 270-745-0111

Visit the Kentucky BON website for updates.

In Conclusion

Now you know how to become an RN in Kentucky!

As you can see, each step takes time, effort, and even investment. However, with this complete guide, you now know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. 

This will make the journey a little less daunting. 

So what are you waiting for?

If you’re interested, you should start with step 1!

Good luck!

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