University of Pittsburgh Nursing School Review


On its main campus in Pittsburgh, as well as through its satellite campuses in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville, the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) serves over 34,000 students. Students are enrolled in baccalaureate and graduate programs, as well as in continuing education courses. The University, which was founded in 1787, has a long history of academic rigor, cutting-edge research, and scholarship.

Its nursing department is no different. It boasts a high rate of success for its graduates (for example, a pass rate of 95 percent on the Registered Nurse licensing exam). All the programs through the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing have accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approval from the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The University of Pittsburgh’s traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is designed for incoming freshman, although it is open to transfer students as well. Students in the program spend the majority of the first three semesters completing core general education requirements in the liberal arts and in the sciences. The first nursing course begins in the second semester. Students spend the last three semesters focusing solely on nursing. In total, a student in the BSN program must earn 124 credits in order to graduate. Graduation enables a student to take the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX_RN). If successful, he may begin working as a Registered Nurse (RN) or move on to graduate-level nursing courses.

Bachelor of Science – Accelerated Second Degree

A student who has already earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing can complete a BSN degree through the Accelerated Second Degree BSN program. This requires eighteen consecutive months of full-time study, not including the time a student will need to complete any missing prerequisites. In order to be eligible to start the program, an incoming student needs to have completed thirty-six credits of prerequisites in the sciences, English, psychology, sociology, and statistics, in addition to holding a bachelor’s degree. Once enrolled, the student will take fifty-five credits of nursing courses. At the conclusion of the eighteen months, the student is prepared to take the NCLEX_RN. The program begins three times a year: fall, spring, and summer.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN Option – RN to BSN

An RN who is a graduate of an associate-degree or diploma program may complete a BSN degree through the RN to BSN  program. To begin the program, she must meet with an advisor, who will determine how many credits she needs to complete. The traditional BSN program is 124 credits in total, but the incoming RN may take exams that will give her advanced placement for up to sixty-four credits. Depending on how many courses she needs to complete, then, the length of the program varies. The program begins three times a year: fall, spring, and summer.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN Option – Early Admission to MSN 

After completing eighty-four credits (through advanced placement, transferred credits, or classes taken at the University of Pittsburg), an RN may choose the Early Admission to the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. If he chooses this route, he will take eight graduate-level nursing courses (twenty-four credits) while finishing up his BSN degree, and transition smoothly from the BSN program into his chosen MSN program.

Post-baccalaureate Certificates

A nurse who has earned her BSN degree may continue her education through a certificate program, if she does not want to commit to a full MSN degree. These shorter programs consist of just a few courses, and can be completed over the course of a few terms. Students may enroll in the Genetics Certificate Program (requires fifteen credits), in the Certificate in Nursing Research Program (seventeen credits), the School Nurse Certificate Program (twenty-four credits) or in the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology, Nursing Track (fifteen or sixteen credits).

Master of Science in Nursing – Psychiatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

The MSN Psychiatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP) trains RNs to be the primary providers of mental health care. This program is available on either a full-time or part-time basis. The suggested course sequence takes eight semesters to complete (including summers). Regardless of whether a student follows the suggested course sequence, he needs to complete fifty-five credits. The program begins each fall.

Master of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader

Students in the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) track can complete all courses online, except for the required 420 hours of clinical practice. Courses are also offered on campus. The program consists of forty-two credits, which can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. The suggested course sequence requires four semesters (including one summer semester). The program begins each fall.

Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Informatics

 A nurse who wishes to take a leadership role in the administrative side of nursing can complete the forty-credit Nursing Informatics program. This program begins each fall, and can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.

Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Administration

In order to be a manager in the healthcare field, an RN may wish to complete the Nursing Administration track of the MSN program. This requires forty credits, and can be completed either full-time or part-time. The suggested course sequence takes four semesters to complete. The program begins each fall.

Master of Science in Nursing – Nurse Anesthesia

The Nurse Anesthesia program begins each August and each January. While students may complete the core graduate nursing courses on a part-time basis, they may only complete the coursework for the Nurse Anesthesia specialty on a full-time basis, as the course of study is very rigorous. It takes twenty-eight months of consecutive study. The Nurse Anesthesia program has a separate accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs.

Master of Science in Nursing – Minors

By completing an additional twelve credits, MSN students in any of the areas of specialization may complete a minor. The University of Pittsburg offers the following minors to MSN students: Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, Healthcare Genetics, Nursing Informatics, and Nursing Research.

Post-master’s Certificates

A nurse who has already earned an MSN degree can work toward certification in another area of specialization without completing the core graduate nursing classes. He only needs to complete the classes required for the new area of specialization. He can pursue a post-master’s certification in the following areas:  Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Health Care Genetics, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Education, and Nursing Informatics.

Doctor of Nursing Practice – BSN to DNP

A nurse who holds a BSN degree may reach the highest level of clinical responsibility by completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. This takes about three years of full-time study, and includes clinical hours. Students may also opt to complete the BSN to DNP program on a part-time basis. The classes are only available on campus, and the program begins each fall. An RN may choose among several areas of specialization, leading to the following certifications: Adult Medical/Surgical Clinical Nurse Specialist, Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Administrator, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Post-master’s  to DNP

A nurse who holds a master’s degree may complete the DNP program in less time than a BSN-prepared nurse. She can expect to spend one to two years completing the DNP program, depending on an advisor’s evaluation of her transcript. A master’s-prepared nurse has the option of completing the courses for the DNP degree either on campus or online. Like the students in the BSN to DNP program, she can study full-time or part-time, and she must begin in the fall. She can work toward the following advanced practice certifications: Adult Medical/Surgical Clinical Nurse Specialist, Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Administrator, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Anesthetist.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing – MSN to Ph.D.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D. in Nursing) program prepares nurses to conduct research in the nursing field. Students in the program can choose a focal area of research. Available areas of research are: behavioral management of chronic disorders, patient management in critical care, consumer informatics, genetics applications, and technology. A nurse who has already earned an MSN degree may complete the Ph.D. program in three or four years, on a full-time basis. He also has the option of studying part-time. In total, she must earn at least sixty-four credits, and complete a dissertation.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing – BSN to Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in nursing program is also open to nurses who hold a BSN degree. They must complete at least ninety-four credits, and must study on a full-time basis. Students in the BSN to Ph.D. track have ten years to complete the program.

Continuing Education

The University of Pittsburgh has a strong commitment to continuing education for nurses, offering a variety of non-credit programs and short courses. Nurses can choose between on-campus courses and online courses, and they can choose a subject area in their field of interest. The program offerings change frequently, to keep up with the current trends in the nursing field, and the School of Nursing is open to suggestions about future course offerings.

On-Campus Courses:

Pharmacology and Clinical Practice Update Series

The Pharmacology and Clinical Practice Update Series is designed to keep advanced practice nurses in touch with new innovations in pharmacology and clinical practice. The series is offered on Saturday mornings, in five different locations: on the campus of the School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, on the Pitt-Bradford campus, on the Pitt-Greensburg campus, on the Pitt-Johnstown campus, and on the Pitt-Titusville campus. Students in the program will earn three continuing education contact hours.

Fast Track Back Re-Entry into Practice

On the campus of the School of Nursing, the University of Pittsburgh offers a refresher course for nurses who have been out of the field (but not out of the field for longer than fifteen years). The course consists of six days of classroom instruction and six days of clinical practice. Students in the program will brush up on their nursing skills and bring themselves up to date with changes in the nursing field. In total, a nurse in the program will earn seventy-eight continuing education contact hours.

Nursing Now! Conference

The University of Pittsburgh hosts an annual Nursing Now! conference in June. The goal of the conference is to help nurses examine and adapt to changing needs in the nursing field. Each year, the conference will focus on a specific topic within this broad field.

Online Courses:

Clinical Ethics for Nurses

The Clinical Ethics for Nurses online course helps nurses learn about professional ethics and evaluate their own understanding. Students have two months to complete the course, and will receive two continuing education contact hours.

Nursing Preceptor Program

Experienced nurses who work one-on-one with nursing students can complete the Nursing Preceptor Program in order to hone their teaching skills. After completing all six modules in the program, a student will receive six-and-a-half continuing education contact hours.

Introduction to Nursing Informatics for Nurse Educators

A nurse educator who wishes to incorporate more information about Nursing Informatics into her curriculum can complete the Introduction to Nursing Informatics for Nurse Educators program. She must complete the program in one month, and will earn two-and-a-half continuing education contact hours.

Preconception Counseling for Adolescent and Adult Women with Diabetes

A nurse can earn four continuing education contact hours by completing the online Preconception Counseling for Adolescent and Adult Women with Diabetes course. The program consists of four modules.

Addiction Training for Nurses (SBIRT)

The Addiction Training for Nurses course will help a nurse with Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Completion of the module will give the nurse one-and-a-half continuing education contact hours.

Moving the Classroom into the 21st Century

The online Moving the Classroom into the 21st Century course will help nurse educators to incorporate modern technology into nursing education. A nurse who completes this course will earn four continuing education contact hours.

Emerging Learning and Integrated Technologies Education (ELITE)

The ELITE program is supported by the School of Nursing, Office of Health Information Technology, Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Its goal is to provide continuing education for nurse educators, helping them to realize and take advantage of the possibilities of technology for nursing education. In partnership with the School of Nursing’s continuing education program, ELITE offers both on-campus and online continuing education courses. The Moving the Classroom into the 21st Century course and the Introduction to Nursing Informatics for Nurse Educators courses (described above) are both offered in partnership with ELITE. In addition to these online courses, ELITE regularly offers on-campus workshops; workshop offerings change frequently.

Contact:
University of Pittsburgh,
School of Nursing,
Victoria Building,
3500 Victoria Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

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