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A Look at Nursing in Pennsylvania

Nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession. While pay and scope of practice may vary from state to state, the fulfillment of helping others remains constant. Providing compassionate care to those in need requires a perfected professional craft. Being able to administer this high level of care demands that nurses are educated in both the healthcare aspects and the legalities of the state where they choose to practice.

Each state has its own nurse practice act (NPA) and board of nursing (BON). Investigating the regulations and scope of practice within each state can provide a prospective nurse with the information required to work in their desired setting. Pennsylvania, known as the Keystone State, played a vital role in founding the nation. This state also offers many nursing school programs and healthcare systems.

Where Pennsylvania Stands

According to U.S. News & World Report, Pennsylvania is ranked #10 nationally for college readiness and #18 in overall healthcare. The national healthcare ratings take three benchmarks into consideration: access to care, quality of care and public health. Regarding the benchmarks, the site adds, “This includes concerning measures such as the percentage of adults without health insurance and the percentage who haven’t had a routine checkup in the past year — including those who went without medical attention because of the cost. It includes positive measures such as the percentage of children receiving medical and dental care under Medicaid. It includes measures of hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge, nursing home citations and numbers of seniors covered under high-quality Medicare Advantage plans. It involves general measures that correspond with good health — rates of smoking and obesity. And it takes into account infant and overall mortality rates.”

Nursing Salaries in Pennsylvania

Nursing salaries vary largely by state. Average pay depending on role are posted on several websites, including and On these sites, Pennsylvania registered nurses (RN) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) are estimated to make over $61.6K; however, even specialty positions within state lines can range in salary. For example, emergency room nurses working in Allentown, Lancaster, Philadelphia or Reading, Pennsylvania all have an average salary of $70K+, while ER nurses in Erie, Pennsylvania are estimated to make $66K. Registered nurses in Levittown, PA are estimated to bring home the highest yearly salary, at around $81K+.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists California, Texas and New York as having the highest rates of employment for registered nurses, with mean annual wages ranging from $70-101K+ in 2016. Top paying states for RNs are listed as California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii, with Oregon and Alaska trailing close behind.

Healthcare Systems in PA

Pennsylvania has several prominent healthcare systems and potential employers for nurses. The state has close to 250 hospitals, 27 of which meet the rigorous criteria of U.S. News & World Report standards. Within the top ten statewide are Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Lancaster General Hospital, Reading Hospital and St. Luke’s University Hospital. The number one hospital system in Pennsylvania, according to U.S. News & World Report is Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania – Penn Presbyterian, which also holds several national rankings in 11 specialties and is listed as high-performing in two adult specialties and seven procedures/conditions.

Nursing in Pennsylvania has many benefits to offer any potential healthcare professional, especially nurses. Average yearly salaries for staff nurses vary from $60-80K+, depending on the city. Nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree may see an increase in salary and access to a greater number of job opportunities. Many major healthcare systems are present in Pennsylvania. A multitude of hospitals exist within the state, affording nurses versatility within their profession, allowing several different specialties and/or patient populations to choose from.

Learn more about the La Salle online RN to BSN program.


PayScale: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree Average Salary

U.S. News & World Report: Best States – Pennsylvania

U.S. News & World Report: Best States – Health Care Rankings

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics – Registered Nurses Pennsylvania (PA) Pennsylvania Staff Nurse – RN – Emergency Room Salaries

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