Education and Training for Nurses


It is a common trend for people to use interchangeably the terms education and training while the two have clear distinctive meanings.

Education can basically be referred to as the theoretical knowledge learnt in books, journals and other resources materials. On the other hand, training is the aspect of education where you receive practice instructions and skills as taught or learnt from an education program. For nurses, when these two are combined, nursing as a profession is born; a career that heavily relies on training inherent from the education sessions.

Entry-Level Education and Training for Nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are three entry-level pathways to becoming a registered nurse. These pathways enable students to take initial NCLEX-RN exam for initial licensure.

Diploma in Nursing

Nursing diploma programs are offered by hospital-based schools of nursing. They were popular in the 1970s and have experienced diminished enrolment in the recent past. Diploma in nursing education is more inclined to the technical training rather than on education theories and philosophies. Student nurses pursuing this level of nursing become more acquainted with practical skills due to intensive on-the-job training. Diploma nursing program are also commonly referred to as nurses training programs.

Students receive one-one training lessons with the patients in almost every part of the period of study.  However, they lack the wider concepts of other disciplines interrelated with nursing like chemistry, biology, math, among others. To keep pace with the differing preferences and career advancement prospects of students, diploma nursing schools have started teaming-up with community colleges in offering their nursing training. In this case, students receive exclusive direct patient training from the hospital and nursing education courses from the community college.

Upon completion of coursework from both schools, students earn a diploma and an associate degree in nursing. As such, they become academically eligible to write the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered nurses.

i)        Associate of Science Nursing Education

Associate of science in nursing (ASN) education programs are 2-year programs designed to facilitate quick entry into professional nursing. Unlike the nurse diploma programs, ASN programs carry a relatively equal measure of both technical training and theoretical education. Students in associate nursing programs take courses from a diverse pool of discipline besides nursing. Courses may include psychology, anatomy, English, Math, speech, writing among non-nursing fields. As a whole, this courses are referred to as liberal arts or general education courses and do not require any kind technical practicum.

In addition to the above, there are nursing courses which carry the training aspect of the nursing field. Most of these courses have a theory portion coupled with a clinical training portion. Students first learn the theoretical aspect in class before applying the same knowledge with simulation patients in labs and later moving on to real patient training. Just like the latter group, students become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered nurses.

However, as compared to diploma graduates, associate degree nursing (ADN) graduates have higher chances of advancing their education. They are better placed to complete 4-year nursing practice hence increasing their nursing practice scope.

ii)      Bachelor of Science in Nursing

This kind of nursing education is offered in four year colleges and universities and usually takes 4 years to complete. Unlike the earlier two options, this entry-level pathway prepares nurses with a larger scope of practice. The number of diverse non-nursing education courses increase coupled with an increased number of theoretical nursing courses.

The study path is distinctive in that most schools reserve the 1st two years for the non-nursing supporting courses with the last two years being reserved for nursing courses and direct patient care training.  Graduates of the BSN education programs have the best chances of earning graduates degrees compared to any other entry-level registered nurses.

Entry-Level Training For Nurses

Apart from the diploma programs, nurse training for the other two aforementioned programs is usually done in external health care facilities. This is with exception of technical training done with simulation males, females, babies in a simulation lab which most nursing schools have. Coursework in ADN and BSN curriculums is usually coupled with clinical training sessions.

Nursing schools form partnerships with local hospitals to allow entry level students apply what they learn in class. Such training sessions are scheduled in different departments of a health care facility including wards, operation/surgery rooms, laboratories, and pharmacy and rehabilitation areas. Training may go beyond the hospital environment to cover aspects of community nursing, public health and long term care homes.

The usual plan for nurse education and training for nurses is for students to complete the didactic portion of the courses before proceeding to any clinical practical training. As such, students only indulge in doing activities and implementing concepts they are already familiar with from a theory class. Students may be divided into clinical cohort groups to facilities a reasonable training ration between the instructor and students.

Graduate Nurse Training

This are programs that trains entry-level nurses but at the graduate level. There are two options under the graduate entry level nurse training listed below:

  • Bachelor of Science (entry-level) graduate training for nurses pursing a bachelor nursing degree but have another non-nursing baccalaureate.
  • Masters entry-level nurse training for direct entry students with other non-nursing baccalaureates
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