Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

Nursing students and practicing registered nurses are finding that continuing their education to earn a position as a nurse practitioner has become one of the best choices they can make in their career. As health care laws change and the need for highly trained health care professionals increases, employers are looking to nurse practitioners to fill the roles traditionally filled by physicians. While nurse practitioners earn slightly less than a physician, they can perform, essentially, the same job in most cases. In Washington, nurse practitioners require no supervision from physicians when it comes to diagnoses, treatments and prescriptions. This means that an employer can save money by employing a few physicians and a larger number of nurse practitioners.

The national average number of nurse practitioners per 100,000 population hovers right at 58 and Washington is just below that number at 56. There are a total of 3,800 nurse practitioners working in the state but under 200 new medical students graduate and enter the work force each year. Only a small portion of those students are nurse practitioners and the need for their experience is growing faster than most other professions. This means finding employment is going to be significantly easier in this field and at this level of education than just about any other choice you could make.

While the cost of living in Washington is in the upper 50% of the nation, the average income for nurse practitioners in the state is also at the high end of this profession. Nurse practitioners in Washington earn just under $100,000 a year. Many other states see the average income under $90,000 a year, so don’t let the above average cost of living keep you from working in the state, you will be compensated very well for the difference.

As you start to search for employment, you will find that the highest percentage of jobs relative to the local population are found in Wenatchee, Spokane and Longview. The areas with the lowest percentage are in Kennewick, Olympia and Seattle. You will also find the highest average salaries in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, so keep those under represented, higher paying, cities in mind as you start to search for an employer.

You will also want to look at some of the largest employers in the state. Providence Health and Services in Renton, St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane and Madigan Army Medical Center in Joint Base Lewis Mcchord rank among the top 20 employers in all industries in the state. Keep each of these in mind as you start to consider a future employer as you close in on graduation.

The Washington State Nurses Association will also be a go to resource for most of your future. With a focus on helping you enhance your education and skills and focusing on legislative, political action and labor relations, the WSNA is an all-encompassing organization to ensure that your career is as beneficial as possible. You will also find information about financial aid through the association. For additional loans, loan forgiveness and scholarship info, you will find plenty of governmental help listed here through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Finally, most colleges will have a wide variety of financial aid options, some of which will be specific to the school, to ensure that you get the assistance you need to pay for your expenses.


Washington State University

WSU started the nation’s first nursing consortium with 37 students graduating from the inaugural class in 1971. The school has only grown since then, with educations focusing on everything from a BSN to a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, you will find a full education in one university. In 2011, 91 students earned over $150,000 in scholarship support. Locations can be found in Spokane, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, Yakima, and Walla Walla. Continuing education courses are offered upon graduation to ensure you can maintain your state license, including ethics, pharmacotherapeutics, and nurse refresher course. Research and simulation labs are a focus in their programs and will ensure that you have options for where you wish to move as you finish your education.

Pacific Lutheran University

Located in Tacoma, PLU is home to a college that focuses on communities and the earth as well as a formal education. Each year they give out $40 million in grants and scholarships and find another $83 million in financial aid for their students. While the university is a Lutheran based university only 23% are Lutheran in faith. 24 countries are represented throughout their student base and the campus ensures that you will have a personal education with less than 4,000 students attending. PLU also holds countless accreditation including one from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.