For those who are looking to make their mark in the field of nursing, North Carolina provides an ideal destination for building a career.
This diverse state is home to some of the top nursing schools in the country, that also happen to provide generous scholarship packages, and consistently ranks in the top ten when it comes to the best states to be a nurse.
Raleigh and Durham are two of the most educated cities in the U.S. and serve as healthcare and technology hubs that attract talent from all over the world. As a result, the population is growing rapidly, which means an increased demand for skilled healthcare providers.
Whether you love the mountains, the beach or a vibrant nightlife, North Carolina offers it all. Residents enjoy easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Mountains, as well as, the famed Outer Banks with miles of pristine beaches. Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and surrounding cities also host the state’s symphony, ballet company and art museums and hundreds of festivals, music venues and other free community events.
North Carolina is also home to several James Beard award-winning chefs and is one of the country’s premier cities for foodies. Perhaps best of all, a temperate climate with short winters means that you can enjoy all the state has to offer, year-round.
Part One Job Climate in North Carolina
As of 2017, North Carolina is the 12th fastest growing state in the country and ranks as the 8th most populous. A robust job market, state policies that are designed to attract companies like Amazon and Google, and an affordable cost of living continue to attract over 100,000 new residents per year.This translates into an increased demand for
This translates into an increased demand for healthcare services and with dozens of nationally recognized hospitals in the RDU area alone, there are plenty of opportunities for employment.
A recent study from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) ranks North Carolina as #45 when it comes to projected demand for nurses, yet these numbers may not accurately reflect what is happening in the state.
The study projects that there will be a surplus of 16,500 nurses in NC by 2030. However, these numbers may be skewed because many of the people who come to the state to earn their nursing degree will return to their home state after completing their degree and training.
So while the state is certainly responsible for training a large number of nurses, not all of them will remain for work.
Part Two North Carolina Board Of Nursing
The mission of the NC Board of Nursing is to protect the public by regulating the practice of nursing. This includes education, licensure, and practice. There are almost 184,000 licensed nursing professionals in the state. Here's a breakdown by practice level:
|Licensed Practical Nurses||22,625|
|Nurse Aide II||15,333|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||327|
|Clinical Nurse Specialist||244|
For the latest information on licensure in North Carolina, you can contact the State Board of Nursing directly through the following methods:
8 am - 5 pm Monday through Friday
4516 Lake Boone Trail
Raleigh, NC 27607
P.O. Box 2129
Raleigh, NC 27602-2129
PHONE AND EMAIL
Phone: (919) 782-3211
Fax: (919) 781-9461
Part Three Getting Licensed In North Carolina
Since July 2000, North Carolina has been part of the Nurse Licensure Compact which grants a multi-state license to any nurse licensed in one of the following states:
North Carolina is one of the many states that require all examinations be submitted online. The state utilizes a Nurse Gateway portal. You must first register on the portal in order to receive an access login.
LICENSURE BY EXAM
If this is your first nursing license, you must apply for licensure by exam. The process for taking the NCLEX requires the following:
- Your Examination application
- Your submittal of the North Carolina Board of Nursing Identification Document. You can reprint your prefilled Identification Document by completing the steps below upon submission of your Examination application.
- Log in to the Nurse Gateway portal
- Select the tile labeled 'RN or LPN NCLEX CANDIDATE'
- Select the 'Exam Status' tab on the next page, then select 'View/Reprint Application' to access your prefilled Identification Document
- Your Electronic School Verification or Official Transcript Copies
- North Carolina graduates program verification will be provided to the North Carolina Board of Nursing by your Program Director within 30 days of program completion.
- Out-of-State graduates are required to provide a "FINAL" official transcript, the transcript must include your legal name (first & last), degree awarded and date of completion or conferral.
- Mail to: NCBON, Exam Department, P.O. Box 2506, Raleigh, NC 27602-2506
- Transcripts must be delivered directly from the university or an approved transcript vendor. No other forms or documents are required from the school.
- Active-in-program transcripts will not be accepted.
- Graduates of International nursing education programs must complete a Credentials Evaluation Service (CES Professional Report) or provide a CGFNS Certificate or VisaScreen. English proficiency testing is required for many Internationally educated nurse applicants.
- Your registration and payment of fees to Pearson Vue
For more information on licensure by exam, see the NCBON's website.
LICENSURE BY ENDORSEMENT
Nurses with an active license outside of compact states will have to submit an application in order to receive a state endorsement. This process requires the following:
- A completed online application
- A criminal background check. This is a fingerprint-based system that is verified by both the State and Federal Bureaus of Investigation and comes with a $38.00 fee.
- Proof of successfully completing a licensed nursing program
- Proof of passing the NCLEX
- Documentation of having met the continuing education requirements
- A license endorsement fee of $150.00
For those who have not held an active RN license for five years, you will be required to take a refresher course that includes 240 hours of instruction and 120 hours of clinical experience. These courses are offered at a limited number of state board approved locations across the state.
Verifying your license with NC is free and easy. All you have to do is enter your license number or social security number into the state's online verification system. The verification process also provides you with the opportunity to enroll in automatic updates so that you can receive email notifications of any changes in your licensing and reminders of when it is time to apply for renewal.
In North Carolina, RN and LPN licenses are valid for two years. Nurses are required to renew their license by the last day of their birth month. In order to renew a license, applicants must pay a $100.00 renewal fee and provide proof that they have met all continuing competence requirements. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to meet these requirements. In general, nurses should expect to complete at least 15 -30 hours of continuing education in order to meet the minimum requirements for renewal.
It is also important to keep in mind that the state does not offer any extensions or exceptions. If you do not renew your license in time, it will automatically be registered as expired. To begin the online application and endorsement process, visit the NC Nurse Gateway.
Part Four Salary and Benefits
For nurses, compensation packages tend to be a little more complex than the average job. There are plenty of opportunities to earn additional money based on working different shifts, taking on overtime, earning additional certifications and leading new hire training.
In North Carolina, employers are required to pay overtime, which is calculated as 1.5 times the normal hourly pay, for any hours that exceed a typical 40-hour work week. This law covers nurses although it does not apply to shifts lasting longer than 8 hours as long as the weekly total amounts to 40 hours or less. In addition, the state does not mandate the workers receive a certain number of breaks and meal time during their shifts. However, you would be hard-pressed to find an employer who doesn’t have their own policy for providing rest time.
Depending on the hospital or healthcare facility, nurses in NC can enjoy a nationally competitive salary along with benefits that include:
- Paid holidays and/or extra holiday pay for working holidays
- Excellent vision, dental and health coverage
- Discounts on cell phones and fitness memberships
- Tuition reimbursement
- An average of $1,350 in bonuses
Nurses who are willing to take on extra responsibilities, earn additional certifications and work less popular shifts, can make almost double the median salary of other nurses in the state.
Highest Paying Cities in North Carolina
|Metro Area||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage||Employment|
Part Five Magnet Hospitals
The American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards hospitals who demonstrate a high degree of quality nursing, according to set standards, with the Magnet status.
Nurses who work at Magnet hospitals report higher job satisfaction, fewer injuries and more opportunities for advancement. These hospitals represent some of the most renowned facilities in the country, which also means that they have a highly competitive hiring process that only selects the best of the best.
|University of North Carolina Hospitals||Chapel Hill|
|Carolinas Medical Center||Charlotte|
|Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital (Novant Health)||Charlotte|
|Presbyterian Medical Center (Novant Health)||Charlotte|
|Duke Regional Hospital||Durham|
|Duke University Health System||Durham|
|Duke University Hospital||Durham|
|Behavioral Health Hospital (Cone Health)||Greensboro|
|Moses Cone Hospital||Greensboro|
|Wesley Long Community Hospital||Greensboro|
|Vidant Medical Center||Greenville|
|Catawba Valley Medical Center||Hickory|
|Huntersville Medical Center (Novant Health)||Huntersville|
|Matthews Medical Center (Novant Health)||Matthews|
|Duke Raleigh Hospital||Raleigh|
|UNC Rex Healthcare||Raleigh|
|WakeMed Health and Hospitals||Raleigh|
|Annie Penn Hospital (Cone Health)||Reidsville|
|Forsyth Medical Center (Novant Health)||Winston Salem|
|Wake Forest Baptist Health||Winston-Salem|
Part Six Best Hospitals For Nurses
Nurse.org analyzed 1,598 surveys of nurses from 109 hospitals in North Carolina to rank the best hospitals to work for in the state of North Carolina.
1. WakeMed Raleigh Campus
4.4 Average Rating
"Great pay and great coworkers."
"Mutual professional respect and everyone supports progression!"
"Everyone is super easy to get along with and friendly."
2. Duke University Hospital
4.4 Average Rating
"Great teamwork, adequate staffing, amazing experiences, [and] numerous resources."
"Nurses are considered part of the team and doctors look to nurses for their input on the patient."
"Duke has an advanced facility with state of the art equipment."
3. University of North Carolina Health Care
Chapel Hill, NC
4.3 Average Rating
"The benefits are great. My unit is awesome. I would love to retire from here."
"Great atmosphere, teamwork, professionalism, and respect you do not normally receive."
"It's a great learning hospital. Teaching and constant change is always here. Great teamwork."
4. Catawba Valley Medical Center
4.3 Average Rating
"Great teamwork. Clean, updated equipment. Great coworkers."
"Great place to work, people are team orientated and take care of each other."
"My co-workers are the best [and] very helpful. Management is very helpful as well."
4. UNC REX Healthcare
4.3 Average Rating
"The facility, pay, and coworkers are great."
"This is a wonderful organization that supports its nursing teams. We have wonderful opportunities to grow in the organization."
"Perks of university affiliation, ongoing facility improvement/updates, good pay, strong teamwork."
6. Carolinas HealthCare System Lincoln
4.2 Average Rating
"Visionary leadership team! Climate promotes educational growth and the culture is professional and friendly!"
"It’s very organized with realistic nurse patient ratio and great people."
7. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Winston Salem, NC
4.2 Average Rating
"Great staff, amazing new unit, great learning opportunities, and a lot of opportunities to pick up extra shifts. It's a great working environment with helpful and supportive staff."
"This is a great learning environment with wonderful coworkers who want to make sure you are successful in your career."
8. WakeMed Cary Hospital
4.1 Average Rating
"Great teamwork, especially on night shift when the staffing is low. Management is very willing to help out on the unit floor."
"It's a great team environment."
9. Carolinas Medical Center
4.1 Average Rating
"An excellent place to work with great opportunities for advancement."
"The people are really helpful and seem to really listen and respect what you do."
10. Carolinas Medical Center - NorthEast
4.1 Average Rating
"Nice atmosphere, great group, facility is very nice, and the operating rooms are well equipped."
"Very customer service oriented hospital. Great staff, friendly and always willing to help."
11. Duke Regional Hospital
4.1 Average Rating
"I can't say I have ever worked with a better group of people."
"The work environment is very conducive to continuous learning and it provides for utmost personal development."
12. Moses H Cone Memorial Hospital
4.0 Average Rating
"Management is approachable and organized."
"I appreciate the flexible scheduling and support of management."
"Coworkers are a joy to work with. I love my managers. The workload and [the] patient staff ratio is very rational."
13. Watauga Medical Center
4.0 Average Rating
"Very welcoming environment and staff as well!"
"The staff is very nice and welcoming. Everyone is willing to assist each other. Manager is extremely helpful and definitely part of the team."
14. Mission Memorial Campus
4.0 Average Rating
"I love it here! Patients are amazing and appreciative, and everyone is here to help no matter what you need."
"Staff are very professional, experienced and friendly - from the nurses at the bedside to the respiratory therapists, lab collectors, and pharmacy techs."
15. Carolinas HealthCare System University
4.0 Average Rating
"Great coworkers, supportive management."
"Coworkers are like family"
Part Seven Best Nursing Programs
North Carolina is home to one of the best state university systems in the country, as well as, dozens of private colleges and universities that attract the best students and faculty from around the world. For nursing students, that means plenty of opportunities to enroll in competitive programs that will set you up for future success and help you stand out when it comes time to apply for jobs.
Whether you want to work towards your BSN or are looking to earn an advanced nursing degree, here are the top schools and programs worth applying to:
Duke University is located in the heart of Durham and consistently ranks among the top 10 schools in the country. The nursing program offers truly innovative curriculum and access to state-of-the-art facilities and technology. The extensive Duke University Health System, which location across the state, provides plenty of opportunity for clinical experiences. The nursing program has an 11% acceptance rate and a graduation rate of 95%.
Continuing education, certification and graduate programs and surprisingly flexible and allow students and faculty to work together to create a curriculum that fits the goals and interests of the student.
UNC boasts another nationally and internationally recognized nursing school. It is also only one of three schools in the country to offer the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation, which allows participants to earn a BSN-PhD in seven years. This program is part of the school’s commitment to foster the next generation of scientists who will drive healthcare innovation. Students should expect a rigorous course of study while also enjoying access to award-winning faculty and advanced facilities.
Programs at UNCW are designed to help RNs earn their BSN and other advanced degrees and prepare students for the RN licensure exam. Students can also earn a BA and or MA in Clinical Research in addition to other advanced degrees and certifications. While the Wilmington campus is smaller than other locations, students still enjoy access to the best training and technology that the UNC health system has to offer.
Queens University is conveniently located close to premier health care centers and offers an intimate learning environment with a small student to faculty ratio. Students can choose between a regular or accelerated BSN program and enter the graduate school to pursue a variety of advanced educational and career options. A variety of online courses also make this program great for those with a busy schedule.
At the Hunt School of Nursing, students can choose to earn a AND, BSN, RN to BSN or MSN. You can pursue practically any nursing path and even earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The school offers an extensive selection of coursework and specializations with instruction from highly acclaimed and respected instructors. Students are well prepared for passing the NCLEX and enjoying a successful career in nursing.
Part Eight Unions and Nursing Organizations
North Carolina has a long history as a right to work state. In 1947, the government decided to ban mandatory union dues. Since then, employers are not allowed to require that their employees join unions. However, employers can recognize unions and employees have the right to weigh the pros and cons of joining an available union and make the best choice for themselves.
That being said, North Carolina does not have an existing nursing union and there is no sign that one will form anytime soon. The North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) is the main organization in the state that works to promote better educational opportunities, working environments, and compensation packages for nurses throughout the state. The NCNA is actively involved in lobbying and advocating for the rights of nurses and patients and works to pass relevant legislation and support political candidates who they believe will be good for the profession.
Without the support and backing of a union, it is often up to individual nurses to become more active participants in the field and work with organizations to change regulatory and licensing practices. For instance, there is current regulation in place that limits Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to practice as an RN when they are outside their designated facility. For example, an NP who has been registered by the National Board and is employed by UNC could not write a prescription outside of a UNC facility. The NCNA is fighting to change these regulatory restrictions.
Part Nine Latest Nursing News in North Carolina
It was only a few years ago that projections for a nationwide nursing shortage were commonly accepted as fact. However, more recent studies have shown that some states, including North Carolina, are actually on track to have a nursing surplus by 2030. All these mixed messages should be taken with a grain of salt.
The projected number of registered nurses in NC may be higher than normal due to the number of reputable nursing programs in the state. Top programs attract ambitious students from around the globe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that once the students are licensed that they will stay in NC to work.
In addition, some researchers point out that nurses aren’t evenly distributed throughout the state. Large cities, that also tend to offer higher salaries, aren’t experiencing problems with nursing shortages, However, rural areas are having trouble filling positions.
Part of the problem is that while there are LPNs available, even rural hospitals are now looking to hire BSN-RNs. Those who were promised a career in nursing from the local community college may have additional years of school ahead of them before that are able to compete even in areas with shortages.
BSN-RNs who are willing to work outside of urban areas in North Carolina will have more immediate job prospects. For those looking to work in the area’s biggest and most prestigious hospitals, the competition may be tough, especially as the area continues to draw in a new crop of professionals each year.