Vermont has been in a critical nursing shortage since 2020. Some predict a need for a 60% increase in nurses working in Vermont over the next five years to meet that demand. While the state does have a shortage of nurses, there are plenty of high-quality nursing programs in Vermont. Getting a nursing degree in Vermont will help overcome this shortage. It also presents the opportunity for higher earning potential and access to financial aid, specifically for nursing students. Read on to discover the best nursing schools in Vermont and to hear how to make the most out of your degree as a nurse in the state.
2023’s Best-in-Class Nursing Schools in Vermont
One of the most overwhelming parts of the nursing school application process is finding quality schools to apply to. When looking for programs, make sure they’re accredited, meet state licensure requirements, and offer academic support. This guide details some of the best nursing schools in Vermont in terms of affordability and quality education. Three programs are spotlighted below to get you started on your school search.
Castleton University has one of the top-ranked nursing programs in Vermont. With its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), students get the necessary coursework and clinical experience to become registered nurses after graduating. While the program is fully in-person, it’s offered at both the Bennington and Castleton campuses. The program uses a partnership-based approach, so professors give students more one-on-one time and career guidance. They also partner with local hospital systems to offer tuition assistance in exchange for students completing their clinical hours and working at the hospital system upon graduation. This approach makes Castleton both accessible and affordable.
University of Vermont
The University of Vermont’s in-person BSN program is one of the most rigorous nursing programs in Vermont. Students learn to provide personalized, high-quality patient care through clinical hours and courses in three disciplines – natural science, behavioral science, and nursing. The program also serves diverse populations by helping those with disabilities and special needs. While most students complete their clinical hours near campus, a study-abroad clinical opportunity is also available. While it can’t count for the entire 594 hours needed, it provides a way for nursing students to gain an international perspective. The school also has an above-average NCLEX-RN pass rate of 87% and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
As the only accredited associate degree in nursing (ADN) program in Vermont, Vermont Tech’s ADN program is a no-brainer for anyone wanting an associate in nursing. Unlike a traditional ADN program, this one is via hospital partners, with much of the coursework learned through a hands-on approach in a hospital setting. Students can take their courses at hospital systems throughout the state, including in Morrisville, Williston Campus, White River Junction, St. Albans, and Brattleboro. There are even hospital options in New Hampshire if students live in or close to the nearby state. All classes are in person. VTC also offers a re-entry program for RNs whose licenses have expired and who need to retake critical coursework in a short amount of time.
Types of Nursing Programs Available in Vermont
Not all nursing schools in Vermont are equal, but there’s likely a program that meets your needs and suits your preferences. Below is a list of the different program options and the nursing schools in Vermont that feature them.
Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Vermont
Nursing Bridge Programs in Vermont for Current Nurses
Advanced Nursing Programs in Vermont
Navigating Vermont Online Nursing
Online nursing programs in Vermont can take many different forms. Some programs, especially RN to BSN programs, are offered fully online. Many have live class sessions but allow students to complete assignments on their own time. Some nursing schools in Vermont offer hybrid programs with students either completing some coursework online and some in person or completing all coursework online but having clinical hours in person. Unless you’re already an RN looking to get your BSN or you’re applying for an MSN degree, expect to have some in-person requirements. Clinical hours are completed near campus or in your hometown. Three programs through some of the top nursing schools in Vermont are featured below.
Best Online Nursing Programs in Vermont
Norwich University offers a fully online BSN degree. As one of the few accredited, fully online bachelor’s programs in the state, Norwich is a great choice for anyone looking for a convenient and flexible degree. While class times are flexible, most online classes are synchronous with in-class participation. The program’s focus is on working in a hybrid nursing setting and includes training in electronic health records, innovative applications, and more. Students complete their clinical hours in person near campus or in their home community. If completed near campus, students can experiment with iPads and other technology to make them more competitive nursing candidates.
University of Vermont
The University of Vermont offers an online RN to BSN program. This degree includes a series of nine online courses with an additional tenth course that must be completed in person. Clinical hours can be completed in a student’s hometown, or students can count a full-time nursing role toward this requirement. All other requirements can be completed online. The University of Vermont is also known as a great place to transfer full-time credits from previous nursing and non-nursing programs, allowing students to graduate in as little as two years. To be a successful applicant, nurses should already be RNs licensed in the state of Vermont.
Vermont Tech offers an online RN to BSN program for registered nurses who want to take their education and careers to the next level. The curriculum is divided between health education courses that include health promotion, risk management, and global health and health technology courses that cover topics like health informatics and nursing research. Students also can complete research projects online. Classes are at flexible times so that you can fit your degree around a full-time RN job. The school also has scholarships specifically for nurses to make their nursing programs more affordable.
Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Vermont
While nursing school can be expensive, financial aid makes it more manageable. There are many different forms of financial aid, but the main ones are scholarships, loans, and grants. For residents of Vermont, there are also some university-funded scholarships and loans specifically for nursing students. Vermont Tech, for example, has a variety of nursing scholarships. Additionally, the state of Vermont also offers incentive grants open to all undergraduate students, not just nursing students. To learn about scholarships available nationally, check out this nursing scholarship guide.
Your Path to Becoming an RN in Vermont
To become a licensed RN in Vermont, you must pass the state licensure requirements set by the Vermont Board of Nursing. State licensure is important, but the steps to becoming licensed can be confusing. They are broken down below to help prepare you to become licensed upon graduation.
Step #1: Attend a State-Approved Program
The first step to becoming an RN in Vermont is to complete an approved associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. The Vermont Board of Nursing lists all the approved programs, though it’s important to note that some programs are only accredited for certain licensures, such as being an RN or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).
Step #2: Submit Your Application
All nursing students and current nurses moving to Vermont from another state need to submit an online application with a nonrefundable fee. There are two separate applications, one for nursing students and another for nurses moving from other states.
Step #3: Pass the NCLEX-RN
After you submit your application, it’s time to register for the NCLEX through Pearson VUE. You take the exam through Pearson, a national organization, and they send your results to Vermont. No other exams are required by the state.
Step #4: Complete a Background Check
After completing the NCLEX, you must sign a release form so the state can run a criminal background check on you. As part of the process, you must also have your fingerprints taken at a Vermont Identification Center. The background check is a new step, and it can take four to six weeks for the state to process the results.
Step #5: Renew Your License
Nurses must renew their licenses every two years. Vermont offers an online renewal application, and you must pay a processing fee. To be eligible, nurses must have completed 50 days of paid work as a nurse in the last two years.
Vermont RN Employment Trends
Vermont is facing a nursing shortage. Certain metropolitan areas like Burlington are more in need of nurses than rural areas. If you are a nurse in Burlington, you can expect your skillset to be in higher demand.
Whether you’re in Burlington or the countryside, though, how in-demand nurses are in Vermont largely depends on your skill set. The Vermont Health Department indicates a shortage of all mental health professionals, including nurses who work in that sector. Specializing in an in-demand field like mental health nursing could provide more job opportunities for nurses in Vermont.
Employment Projections for RNs in Vermont
Source: Projections Central
RN Salary Breakdown in Vermont
Overall, nurses in Vermont make about as much as the average for nurses throughout the U.S. Though Vermont nursing salaries may continue to grow as the shortage worsens, a surefire way to make more money as a nurse in the state is to continue your education. For example, nurse practitioners in Vermont make $112,540, while nurse anesthetists make $196,240.
Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Vermont
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021