Nursing Programs Archive

Nursing Programs

Nursing programs are offered in a variety of formats so that you can begin a career in two years or less. Nurses are in tremendous demand and enjoy job security along with very attractive earnings potential.  There is a high demand for nurses across the United States and the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a need for an additional one million nurses in the USA by the year 2018 to replace those leaving the profession and to care for the ever-growing elderly population. This represents a growth rate of 23 percent, far outstripping the rate for most other occupations.

Selecting the Right Nursing Program for You

Your choice of a nursing program must take into account personal, financial, as well as career considerations. Will you be able to balance your studies with work and/or family responsibilities? Do you prefer to participate in a traditional nursing program or might an online program suit your schedule better? Can you afford to attend nursing school or will you need to apply for financial aid? If income is a priority, should you enroll in a one year licensed practical nurse (LPN)/licensed vocational nurse (LVN) program, or attend a community college and earn credentials to become a registered nurse (RN) in two to three years?  If you have the financial means, you can also pursue a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree that will open up a greater number of job opportunities, as well as make you eligible for career advancement.

Questions to ask prospective nursing programs

The below are some questions as you begin to research nursing programs:

1.      Is the school accredited?  Most State Boards of Nursing require that those interested in pursuing nursing careers be graduates of nationally accredited nursing programs since this provides evidence that the school has met high standards with regard to the education of licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. The National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as official accreditation agencies of nursing education programs. The NLNAC accredits diploma, associates, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate nursing programs while the CCNE only accredits bachelor and graduate programs.

You will also need to attend an accredited program to be eligible for federally or state-based financial aid.

2.      Will the school provide sufficient preparation for the national certification examination required of both LPNs and RNs?

3.      Does the school focus on one or two particular areas of nursing? This is more appropriate for master’s degree nursing programs which are necessary for those who wish to become advance nurse practitioners (APNs).

4.      Does the school keep records of your course hours? This is important as you will need to document both classroom and clinical hours when applying for your nursing license through your State Board of Nursing.

5.      What percentage of students who start the program actually finish? Student retention is an important statistic as it reveals the degree of support students receive in the program, as well as suggest the effectiveness of the admissions process.

6.      Does the school assist with job placement and what are the placement statistics?

Types of Nursing Programs

Below is a listing of various education pathways open to those who seek to begin a nursing career. In parentheses is the general time period to complete each program.

Programs for LPNs/LPNS ( 1 year) .-  Programs to prepare LPNs/LVNs  are offered by hospitals, community colleges, and private allied health vocational schools. A high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is generally required for entry into these programs.

Most licensed practical nurse program include both a classroom and supervised clinical training in direct patient care. This is a great option for those who want to begin a nursing career in the least amount of time possible. There is always the option to pursue registered nurse licensure by participating in a “Bridge” LPN-to-RN nursing program.  These programs provide credit for work experience thereby lessening the time required to complete the associate’s degree.

The remaining programs are tailored toward those wishing to become RNs

Diploma Nursing Program (2 to 3 years) – Diploma programs are typically hospital-based and offered in conjunction with local community colleges. These programs prepare graduates to work in hospital and other types of in-patient facilities. Currently, there are less than 100 diploma program in the United States. Admission to these programs typically requires a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED).

Associate Degree in Nursing-ADN (2 to 3 years) – These nursing programs are offered by community and junior colleges and represent the fastest pathway to becoming a registered nurse. Graduates of these nursing programs may apply for entry-level nursing positions within hospitals, nursing facilities, and other healthcare settings and gain valuable experience while earning attractive salaries. Admission is typically limited to those with a high school diploma or GED.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing-BSN (4 years) – These nursing programs are offered by colleges and universities and prepare graduates for an array of nursing careers in a more  diverse range of healthcare settings than are available to associate degree holders. Such settings include intensive care units (ICUs) and critical care units (CCUs) of hospitals, outpatient centers, public health programs, and mental health facilities.  A BSN degree will also be required to gain admission to most master’s programs which prepare nurses for advanced practice. However, there are accelerated Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs for those with a bachelor’s in a non-nursing area.

RN-to-BSN Nursing Programs (2 to 3 years) –These programs are also commonly referred to as “Bridge Programs” and are tailored toward current RNs who possess an associate’s degree or diploma who now wish to purse a BSN degree. These programs are structured around the schedule of working nurses with courses offered during the evening and weekend. Credit is provided for both past education and work experience to enable RNs to complete the program in less three years. One benefit of this pathway is that you may be eligible for at least partial tuition reimbursement from your employer.  .

Accelerated BSN (1 to 1.5 years) – These nursing programs are designed for those who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing area. Accelerated BSN nursing programs allow students to apply liberal arts coursework toward general requirements for the BSN degree. If you have a bachelor’s degree in a closely related area (e.g. science or allied health) you may also be able to transfer these credits and reduce length of time to complete the program even further.

Typical Coursework in Nursing Programs

Nursing programs combine traditional classroom study, with clinical practice providing hands-on care to patients in a variety of healthcare settings.  Classroom study includes anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, as well as the theory and practice of nursing. These classes may be somewhat more intensive in registered nurse programs than in LPN since RNs are expected to assume a greater responsibility for patient care and perform in supervisory roles to LPNs and nursing assistants.

Registered Nurse Certification

Graduates of any of the above-listed nursing programs will need to pass the National Council Licensure Exam for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN) or registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). Each is a computer-based multiple-choice exam that will provide evidence of the candidate’s competency with regard to nursing practice and medical knowledge.


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