Nurses are in high demand in Alaska, where the state's 4,860 RNs earn a median annual salary of $80,600, enjoying one of the highest pay rates in the nation (O*net, 2013) Alaska's 620 LPNs earn a median annual income of $52,600, compared to the national median of $41,500 (O*net, 2013). The higher pay is needed to attract nurses to a state with a high cost of living, isolated communities and long winters. Some of the the state's top employers are Providence Health & Services in Anchorage, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Banner Health and Southcentral Foundation.
The University of Alaska offers the only nursing program in the state, including an LPN to RN option, a four-year BSN track, graduate Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Educator degrees.
The University of Alaska-Anchorage School of Nursing offers a two-year LPN to RN option where students complete the Associate of Applied Science program in three semesters and then must qualify for the clinical sequence in hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. LPNs returning to school can complete their AAS degree through an LPN Direct Articulation track. In addition, nurses licensed in Alaska who hold either a diploma or AAS may complete nursing requirements via distance learning while meeting non-nursing course requirements in their home communities. The nursing program is 40 years old and has expanded via distance learning to numerous communities including Fairbanks, Juneau, Kodiak, and Valdez/Cordova. A total of 70 college credits are required for the AAS degree. In total, the school has graduated 3,682 nurses, many of whom live and work in Alaska. The university features a new Health Sciences Complex with simulation labs and classrooms for expanding medical education and training in the allied health fields.