Illinois offers some of the most prestigious nursing programs for prospective students, including national major teaching hospitals such as Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, University of Chicago Hospitals and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. University degree programs abound as well, including Loyola University’s Marchella Niehoff School of Nursing graduate programs in Chicago, Bradley University in Peoria, Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing in Normal. Students can take advantage of numerous community college programs and specialized programs in colleges statewide. While the opportunities to earn degrees in this state are abundant, the employment opportunities are equally as stunning.

Statewide, the average salaries for LPN, RN and specialty nurses range between $15,000 and $82,000 annually, depending upon degree earned, years in the field, expertise and size of the health facility. In U.S. News & World Report‘s 2007 “Best Hospitals” issue, the University of Chicago Medical Center at 17th out of America’s 5,462 hospitals, tied with Cedars-Sinai of Los Angeles. But, this facility doesn’t represent the largest hospital in the Chicago area, as Rush University Medical Center claims that title, followed by Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. Other large hospitals in Cook County (Chicago area) include Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital, Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Oak Grove Village and St. James Hospital and Health Centers in Chicago Heights. Other employers exist outside Chicago, and the largest of these includes The Children’s Hospital in Peoria, which cares for more children in Illinois than any hospital outside Chicago.

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