As of the 2010 Census, 23 percent of Florida’s 18 million-plus people were 60 or older compared to 18 percent nationally. Unsurprisingly, older populations have more healthcare needs, which translates to a greater demand for nurses. RNs and advanced practice nurses who can see themselves in Florida should keep reading to get the inside scoop on state licensure, schools, salaries, and employment trends.
Filtering for Quality Nursing Schools in Florida
Florida requires that nursing programs within its borders stay in good standing by ensuring at least 70 percent of their graduates pass the NCLEX. Unfortunately, according to a 2015 exposé by the Sun Sentinel, a third of schools failed to meet this threshold, and those that do not improve will go on probation. This means it is vitally important to carefully vet nursing schools in Florida and choose one with a good track record of preparing students to pass the licensure exam. The search tool below can help.
Obtaining a Florida Nursing License
In Florida, all nurses receive their licenses through the Florida Board of Nursing, including RNs and advanced practice nurses. In addition, the board monitors and educates licensees to ensure they are providing quality care to patients. The agency also disciplines nurses who have been reported for professional violations. The initial licensing process is detailed below:
Requirements for Initial Licensure in Florida
- Graduate from a board-approved nursing program with a valid NCLEX code
- Electronically submit an application to the Board of Nursing along with a $110 application and licensing fee
- Register for the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE, pay the mandatory testing fee and pass the exam
- Schedule an appointment with a LiveScan service provider for electronic fingerprinting
Anyone who does not pass the NCLEX-RN must reapply. Those who fail three times and wish to take the NCLEX a fourth time must enroll in a state-approved refresher course. RNs with a valid license to practice in another state, who have completed the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE) or the NCLEX, or have actively practice nursing elsewhere in the US for two of the preceding three years in good standing can apply for licensure by endorsement.
Applicants with criminal records must supply additional materials, including an explanation of the offense, parole records, and three letters of recommendation.
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Renewal Requirements in Florida
Florida mandates that nurses renew their license every two years. Most, but not all, RNs and APRNs can renew their licenses online. The renewal process involves:
- Submitting a renewal application online or by mail
- Paying an $80 fee
- Presenting evidence of 29 hours of continuing education in specified areas, including medical error, Florida laws and rules, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, recognizing impairment in the workplace, and general hours
Nurses who have let their licenses lapse for more than two years may have to take an exam to show they remain competent in the field.
Becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse in FL
In Florida, advanced practice nurses are known as Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), a group that includes nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives. ARNPs need to first have an RN license in the state. They must also:
- Fill out an application
- Pay a $100 fee to transition from an RN to an ARNP license or $210 for a joint RN/ARNP license
- Have a master’s degree in their specialty
- Show evidence of national certification in the specialty
- Have taken a two-hour course entitled Prevention of Medical Errors
- Submit documentation of malpractice insurance via the board’s financial responsibility form
- Have their fingerprints taken
Since everyone’s situation is different, it may be helpful to reference the state’s Board of Nursing website for more information on advanced nursing requirements.
Florida’s Nursing Numbers
With more Americans having access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, and with an aging population developing chronic conditions that require regular medical care, the country will see a dramatic surge in the need for nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2014 and 2024, jobs in the nursing profession will increase by 16 percent across the country. And jobs for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives are expected to increase by an astonishing 31 percent. The lion’s share of that job growth will be generated in 10 states, with Florida being one of them. See below for how those jobs will pay.
Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Florida
|Area||Hourly Median Wage||Annual Median Wage|
|Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach Metropol||$33.12||$68,880|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach Metropolitan||$31.88||$66,300|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach||$30.41||$63,250|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Florida vs. National Numbers
|Year||Annual salary(25th percentile)||Annual salary(median)||Annual salary(75th percentile)||Annual salary(25th percentile)||Annual salary(median)||Annual salary(75th percentile)|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||$78,350||$88,900||$101,140||$0||$82,580||$96,970||$114,090|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
TOTAL EMPLOYMENT (2014)
|Certified Nurse Midwife||300||5,110|
2022 OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK
|Certified Nurse Midwife||370||7,700|
AVG. ANNUAL OPENINGS (2012 – 2022)
|Certified Nurse Midwife||20||290|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central
Organizations for Florida Nurses
According to FANA, there are 3,500 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists in the state. It represents all of them, as well as the patients they help, by serving as the main advocacy group for the specialty in the state.
The Board of Nursing is the best resource for information related to licensing. It covers healthcare professionals from practical nurses to registered nurses to advanced practice nurses.
Nurses who specialize in emergency care can join the Florida Emergency Nurses Association to connect with others in their subspecialty. In recent years, the group has partnered with emergency physicians, worked alongside a state task force on workplace violence, and provided scholarships to attend emergency nursing certification courses.
FNA is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association. The organization provides its members with job leads, professional publications and networking opportunities.
The Florida Nurse Practitioner Network is dedicated to providing professional development to nurses through education, events and job leads. It publishes a vibrant calendar of opportunities on its website.
The Florida Nursing Students Association provides resources to students who are working on their nursing degrees. Members can join simply by participating in their college’s local chapter.
The top nursing programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including
- Student-to-faculty ration
- In-state tuition
- Graduation rate
Additional details for each school were included:
- Count of programs available
- Public and not-for-profit schools
- Normalized on a 100 percent curve
The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...
- Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
- If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break
Top Nursing Schools in Florida
With three campuses in the Miami area, UM has trained nurses for over 70 years. Boasting state-of-the-art training facilities, this private research university is home to one of the best nursing schools in Florida.
Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, UM's four-year, 121-credit BSN program prepares students to sit for RN licensing exams in Florida. Three school-affiliated hospitals and a network of clinical partners provide diverse opportunities for clinical practice. Students build career skills and master healthcare technology at the school's simulation hospital. Multiple student organizations facilitate learning, networking, and peer support.
Applicants with a prior bachelor's degree or RN licensure may consider UM's 55-credit accelerated BSN program or 60-credit RN-to-BSN program. UM is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The state's flagship public university, UF trains nurses to enter the workforce as generalist practitioners. The Gainesville-based school offers three paths to earning a BSN degree.
Students in the traditional BSN program complete general education and pre-professional lower-division requirements before pursuing the four-semester BSN program. Students with a previous degree or RN licensure may enter as upper-division students, taking 4-5 semesters of career-specific training through the school's accelerated or RN-to-BSN programs.
The 60-credit BSN curriculum covers subjects including pathophysiology, pharmacology, and clinical reasoning. Nursing students enjoy access to simulation facilities, a teaching hospital, student organizations, and an honors program. Clinical practice allows candidates to gain experience providing care to diverse populations.
UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public research university recognized for promoting diversity, FSU serves almost 42,000 students annually. The school's two-year BSN program, offered on its main campus in Tallahassee, prepares graduates to take national licensing exams.
Before entering the BSN program, students must complete general education requirements in math, science, humanities, and social science. Once admitted, they complete a 60-credit curriculum that covers fundamental nursing concepts and practices. Students can tailor the degree to their interests through electives on topics like women's health; grief, loss, and trauma; substance abuse; and multicultural issues.
FSU freshmen can join the school's Nursing Learning Community, which offers opportunities for learning and mentorship. The school's Veterans BSN program provides special support to veterans transitioning into nursing school.
FSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Located in Florida's largest city, JU's Keigwin School of Nursing offers a BSN program with multiple pathways. While many nursing programs in Florida only admit upper-division students, freshmen can take advantage of the school's Freshman Acceptance Program. Students in this program receive mentorship from senior nursing students and take nursing courses throughout all four years of their college experience.
Students with an associate degree or completed core coursework and prerequisites can apply for the traditional BSN program, which takes 28 months to complete. The school's accelerated, 16-month second-degree program accepts applicants with a bachelor's degree. An RN-to-BSN option, available online and in hybrid format, welcomes practicing RNs with an associate degree.
JU's nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
A public research university, UCF enrolls almost 70,000 students annually at its 12 Orlando-area campuses and online. The school's College of Nursing prepares graduates to obtain licensure as registered nurses in Florida.
Students without a nursing background can complete UCF's traditional 120-credit BSN in four years of full-time study. The first two years of the program cover prerequisites and general education requirements. The junior and senior years delve into career-specific coursework and clinical practice.
The school's accelerated, four-semester BSN track is designed for learners with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. Agreements with area community colleges allow students to earn an ADN and BSN concurrently, shortening their time to the degree. The school also offers an online RN-to-BSN program.
UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Based in Tampa, USF offers several nursing degree programs geared toward first-time college students, individuals with prior degrees, and veterans transitioning to civilian careers. Students in all of the school's BSN programs benefit from a fully accredited simulation lab, study abroad programs, and a community service corps.
The upper-division track accepts students who have completed pre-nursing requirements at USF or other institutions. A freshman entry track allows first-year students to begin nursing coursework earlier than they could at many BSN programs in Florida.
Applicants with medical experience in the military can pursue the four-semester V-Care pathway. ADN candidates at Hillsborough Community College can earn a BSN from USF concurrently. Current RNs can choose from several specializations as part of a 3-5-semester online RN-to-BSN track.
USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public research university located in Miami, FIU enrolls over 1,000 students annually in its three BSN programs. Emphasizing technological and multicultural competence, FIU's Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences prepares graduates to sit for NCLEX exams.
FIU's generic BSN program is open to applicants who have completed 60 credits of core coursework at FIC, an associate degree from a Florida community college, or a bachelor's degree. This upper-division program comprises five semesters of nursing coursework.
Applicants who hold non-nursing bachelor's degrees and demonstrate completion of nursing prerequisites may pursue the 61-credit, four-semester accelerated BSN option. Both generic and accelerated program applicants must take the TEAS exam. A 30-credit online RN-to-BSN program admits RNs with a Florida license.
FIU's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The oldest private college in the state, Florida Southern offers both a direct-entry BSN program and an RN-to-BSN program. With graduates achieving a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX exams, the Lakeland-based college ranks among the best nursing schools in Florida.
Florida Southern's direct-entry BSN is intended for incoming freshmen. Due to the structure of the program, transfer entry is limited. Direct-entry students begin nursing coursework in their first year. Successful completion of the freshman year curriculum enables learners to progress to clinical practice in their second year. Simulation labs and courses in diverse aspects of nursing practice prepare students for internship and practicum experiences in their senior year. Licensed RNs may apply to Florida Southern's RN-to-BSN program.
Florida Southern is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
NSU offers two undergraduate nursing tracks through its Ron and Kathy Assaf College of Nursing. The 82-credit traditional BSN program accepts applicants with 39 completed credits of general education and prerequisite nursing courses. Once accepted, students typically earn their degree in 27 months.
The school's pre-nursing program covers prerequisite coursework and is designed for underclassmen who plan to apply to the BSN program in their junior year. Applicants who already hold a bachelor's degree may apply for the 64-credit accelerated BSN. This lockstep program requires four semesters of full-time study.
Like many of the best nursing programs in Florida, NSU's programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
UT offers a four-year BSN program through its College of Natural and Health Sciences. Designed for learners without previous nursing education, this 125-credit program is one of the Tampa-based school's most popular undergraduate majors.
Students begin their nursing education by declaring a pre-nursing major. Math and science prerequisites develop students' quantitative reasoning skills. Courses in writing and social science build communication skills and cultural competence. Once they complete prerequisite courses and take the TEAS exam, learners can apply to the BSN program. Major coursework builds professional skills; provides hands-on experience; and addresses topics including leadership, community health, and care across the lifespan.
UT's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
UNF offers four BSN tracks tailored to the needs of students with differing educational backgrounds. These cohort-based programs foster community engagement by placing students with home-based community agencies. Multiple study-abroad opportunities reflect the curriculum's emphasis on global issues in healthcare.
The regular track is designed for applicants who have completed 60 credits of prerequisite and general education requirements. A freshman admit track serves first-year students planning to major in nursing, allowing them to take upper-level nursing courses concurrently with lower-division prerequisite courses.
An accelerated track enrolls students who hold non-nursing bachelor's degrees. These learners typically graduate after four semesters of full-time study. A three-semester online RN-to-BSN track admits practicing RNs.
UNF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its BSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A private Christian university located in West Palm Beach, PBA offers a four-year BSN program with multiple points of entry. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the 123-credit program integrates traditional nursing coursework with a faith-based approach.
Incoming freshmen who intend to major in nursing can apply for direct admission to the program. The program also admits current lower-division PBA students and transfer students who hold an associate or bachelor's degree. These applicants must demonstrate completion of 67 prerequisite course credits, including general education requirements, introductory nursing courses, and biblical studies classes.
Coursework covers theoretical and practical aspects of medical-surgical, community, and family nursing. Students gain hands-on experience in local healthcare settings. They may also qualify to work as nurse technicians after the first semester of their junior year.
PBA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Located in Miami Gardens, STU offers a traditional pre-licensure BSN program and a post-licensure RN-to-BSN option. The private Catholic university's traditional BSN curriculum comprises 69 credits of classroom and clinical requirements. Learners study topics including pharmacology, pathophysiology, and health assessment. Clinical practice gives students experience working with patients in various life stages and in a variety of healthcare settings. The online RN-to-BSN track entails 30 credit hours and two clinical practica.
Applicants who plan to sit for NCLEX exams must complete two years of pre-nursing coursework through STU's Pathway to BSN program. Prerequisite coursework includes classes in writing, math, science, and religious studies.
STU's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approved by the Florida Board of Nursing. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Florida's largest private university, Keiser operates 21 campuses, including its main location in Fort Lauderdale. Applicants can choose from a variety of BSN pathways depending on their previous educational experience.
Comprising 40 general education credits and 80 upper-division nursing credits, Keiser's traditional BSN is designed for first-time college students. Enrollees typically complete the program in under three years.
The school's accelerated program caters to learners with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. The FastTrack program accepts applicants with some college experience who have not earned a bachelor's. Students in the accelerated and FastTrack programs can graduate in about 16 months. All three tracks prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX licensing exam.
Keiser is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its BSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public university with six campuses in southeastern Florida, FAU offers multiple BSN tracks tailored to the needs of students with differing educational backgrounds. FAU's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing stands out among nursing programs in Florida for its holistic focus. Approved by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation, FAU's BSN programs blend traditional training with opportunities to explore alternative modalities.
Students without prior degrees typically enter FAU's four-year traditional BSN program as freshmen. Learners enrolled in the honors program conduct independent research and culminate their degree with a thesis project. Applicants with a prior bachelor's degree may pursue the program's 15-month accelerated track or a two-year part-time track designed for working professionals. FAU also offers an online RN-to-BSN track.
FAU's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approved by the Florida Board of Nursing. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
A private university affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, AHU exclusively awards healthcare-related degrees. AHU's blended four-year BSN program combines online course content with day or evening classes on its Orlando campus.
Applicants who intend to sit for the NCLEX exam may apply to the program if they have completed 58 credits of pre-nursing requirements. Prerequisites include classes in anatomy and physiology, social science, and religious studies. Sixty-three additional credits of professional preparation complete the degree. The school accepts transfer students, but it typically gives preference to applicants with at least 12 credit hours at AHU. Licensed RNs may enroll in the school's fully online RN-to-BSN program.
Like many of the best nursing schools in Florida, AHU's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Part of the State University System of Florida, FAMU is ranked among the country's top historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The Tallahassee-based school offers the only nursing program in Florida fully housed at an HBCU an upper-division program that trains graduates as generalist practitioners.
FAMU's BSN program accepts applicants who have completed pre-professional nursing requirements at FAMU or another institution. Applicants need a minimum 3.1 GPA. Applicants with an associate degree and an RN license may qualify for FAMU's three-semester, 30-credit RN-to-BSN track.
Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the 48-credit traditional BSN curriculum features courses in health assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Learners enroll concurrently in complementary theoretical and clinical courses. A practicum and career development seminar culminate the degree. BSN students typically complete the program in five semesters of full-time study.
FAMU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Located in Miami Shores, Barry offers undergraduate nursing programs geared toward students who plan to take the NCLEX exam. The school offers traditional and accelerated BSN tracks.
Traditional track candidates usually complete their degree in two years of full-time enrollment. Underclassmen typically qualify for BSN entry by completing a two-year pre-nursing course of study. Transfer students may also take pre-nursing courses at Barry before applying to the BSN program. Students who hold a bachelor's degree can complete the accelerated track in about 15 months.
Both nursing tracks are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approved by the Florida Board of Nursing. Barry is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Primarily a junior college, Chipola offers a small roster of baccalaureate degrees, including a BSN. The Marianna-based school's nursing programs afford multiple entry points to meet the needs of diverse students.
First-time college students seeking a BSN begin the program with general education courses. Learners who have fulfilled these requirements at Chipola or another institution may apply for admittance to Chipola's ADN program. This program combines traditional classroom learning, synchronous online classes, simulation labs, and clinical experiences in local healthcare settings. Upon completing the 72-credit associate degree, graduates can sit for licensing exams and apply immediately to Chipola's online RN-to-BSN program.
Chipola's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Located in Fort Myers, FGCU offers a traditional freshman-entry BSN program that equips graduates to sit for licensure exams and enter the job market as licensed nurses in Florida. With 100% of its graduates passing the NCLEX exam, FGCU's Marieb College of Health & Human Services ranks among the best nursing schools in Florida.
The BSN curriculum comprises 61 credits of major coursework and 63 credits of general education and elective courses. Underclassmen typically complete pre-nursing requirements in two years of full-time study. They are then eligible to apply for admission to the upper-level BSN program. Once enrolled in major courses, learners receive instruction in caring for diverse populations and engage in clinical practice at a variety of local sites.
Like many nursing programs in Florida, FGCU's programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. FGCU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Dr. D.W. McMillan BSN Nursing Program welcomes applicants who have completed pre-nursing and general education requirements. This upper-division program is a traditional pre-licensure BSN. UWF's fully online RN-to-BSN enrolls associate-trained nurses who plan to advance to a baccalaureate degree.
Applicants to the BSN program need a minimum 3.0 GPA and a composite score of 75% or higher on the TEAS test. The 124-credit program includes 62 upper-level major credits. Students gain experience in patient-centered care through skills labs and classroom instruction.
UWF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public college with a main campus in Panama City, GCSC offers two nursing degrees geared toward applicants with various backgrounds. The RN-to-BSN program accepts associate- and diploma-trained registered nurses. An ADN program welcomes first-time college students and may grant advanced placement status to licensed practical nurses.
Students can graduate from GCSC with a bachelor's degree in nursing by first qualifying for the ADN, then advancing to the RN-to-BSN program. Many courses taken for the associate-level degree count toward the 120 credit hours required for the BSN. Bachelor's students can begin the program in the spring or fall. Full-time enrollees typically finish their degree in two years.
GCSC's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Licensed RNs with an associate degree can earn a bachelor's degree in nursing at MDC through its RN-to-BSN program. Students often begin working toward their BSN immediately after graduating from the school's associate degree in nursing program.
Students can choose from full-time and part-time tracks. The ADN program typically takes three semesters of full-time study to complete. Completing the bachelor's typically requires three additional semesters of full-time study. BSN candidates learn online, except for a small number of courses that require on-site clinical hours.
MDC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
A public college located in Daytona Beach, Daytona State offers an RN-to-BSN program that prepares associate- and diploma-trained nurses for leadership roles and expanded employment opportunities. This fully online program accepts applicants who hold a nursing license in their state of residence.
The 120-credit program facilitates seamless transfer for Daytona State students who completed their associate degree at the institution. BSN candidates typically complete the remaining credits in four semesters of full-time enrollment. LPNs and other allied health professionals may enter the program with advanced standing.
Daytona State's nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
CF offers some of the most affordable and flexible nursing programs in Florida. With multiple annual start dates and the option to enroll either part time or full time, the Ocala-based school caters to students with a variety of needs.
Applicants new to nursing begin with the 72-credit ADN program, which prepares them to take the NCLEX exam. Students typically complete this degree in 4-6 semesters. Applicants who are LPNs can complete the ADN program in about a year.
The RN-to-BSN program adds 39 credits of specialized training. Candidates usually graduate in 3-5 semesters. BSN graduates who plan to proceed to advanced degree programs benefit from the school's articulation agreement with State University System of Florida nursing graduate programs.
CF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.