Nursing Schools

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So you’ve decided that nursing is for you.  You are ready to make the commitment to caring for the health of others.  Finding a nursing school is your next step towards making your dreams a reality.  Nursing schools come in all shapes and sizes.  You need to do your homework to make the best decision for your nursing career.

What to Look for in Nursing Schools

Anyone can hang a shingle outside their door and call themselves a nursing school.  You have to make sure that the place you choose for your education has the right to call itself a school of nursing.  This could impact your ability to further your education and your right to sit for boards.


It is important that schools are accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission.  These two overseeing boards ensure that the education you are getting is a solid one.

Transferability of Credits

Other important points to look for in a nursing school are the ability to transfer credits.  Some credits that are earned at a trade school are not always transferable to a four-year college or university.  This could severely curtail your ability to further your education in nursing.  The credits you earn should be transferable to other colleges so that you can pursue as many avenues of nursing as possible.

Types of Nursing Degrees

With nursing degrees, the sky is the limit. Deciding which one is right for you really depends on how much time (and money) you’re willing to invest into school and what your long-term career goals are. With that said, the following degrees are the most-popular in the nursing field today.

Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) Diplomas

Registered Nursing Degrees

The lowest rung in the nursing landscape is a diploma as a licensed practical nurse.  This program usually takes about 18 months to complete, but you often have to work under the supervision of a registered nurse.  Also, not as many job opportunities are available to you, but if you are looking for a quick certification with earning power, then this may be the program choice for you.

Registered Nurse (RN) Degrees

To become a registered nurse, you have a few options open to you.  You can take classes for two years to get an associate’s degree in nursing.  You will have all the same powers as any other RN, but you are less likely to be qualified for supervisory positions.  With this type of degree, you will have credits available to transfer towards further education.

The most common way to become a registered nurse is through a four-year bachelor’s degree program.  This is the most extensive program of nursing school, and it requires you to take college level classes, such as writing and history, that are not traditionally part of the nursing school curriculum.  However, having this type of degree makes you qualified for supervisory roles and allows you to continue on in school to obtain a master’s degree.

Advanced Nursing Degrees

Master’s degree programs focus on individual specialties.  The most well-known specialty is the nurse practitioner track.  This allows you to work closely with a doctor to diagnose and treat diseases.  Other master’s degree programs include nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist.

An anesthetist monitors patients during surgery, and a midwife assists women in child birth.  The most malleable of the specialties is clinical nurse specialist.  This is a highly focused study of particular patient types or work venues, such as cardiac, gerontology, or medical-surgical.

Prerequisites for Nursing School

The prerequisites for nursing school depend on the program you are interested in.  LPN programs generally don’t require many prerequisite classes because the focus of the program is almost entirely clinical.

For registered nurse programs, the stakes are a bit higher, and you are required to pass certain classes before you are accepted into the nursing program proper.  Most of these classes consist of biology, algebra or statistics, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and English writing.  Four year degrees will demand even more prerequisites for nursing school, such as history, art, and literature, in addition to the other classes.  You will be expected to maintain a certain grade point average to enter these programs, and competition for spots in the class is usually high.  You should try to obtain a 2.0 GPA or greater for consideration.

What are Accelerated Nursing Programs?

Accelerated nursing programs aim to complete a nursing degree in a shorter period of time.  This is usually a high-stress, high-reward endeavor.

For instance, you can get a two-year associate’s degree in as little as 18 months in some accelerated nursing programs.  Other programs are aimed at students who already have a four-year degree in another discipline.  If you have a bachelor’s in English, you can get a four-year nursing degree in two years due to the transfer of credits.  If you qualify for these programs – or want to get a degree in nursing in record time – these are the programs for you.  They generally teach you everything you would learn in the more traditional programs, but condense them into a few months.

Another important note to consider is that most of these programs do not provide a break and require multiple days of class and clinical time.

About Online Nursing Programs

Online Nursing Programs

Online nursing programs are a great way to conveniently earn your degree.  The most common program offered in the online nursing program world is RN to BSN.  This is a program in which a nurse with an associate’s degree can get the four-year bachelor’s degree over the internet.  All the classes are conducted online, and you are not generally required to participate in clinicals.  However, under some programs, clinicals are mandatory, and you would be instructed to set up a shadowing experience with a local hospital or nursing home.

This is an easy way to convert your degree and further your education.  A few programs are cropping up to enable you to get your registered nurse degree online, but this is generally for a few classes only.  You will need to be close to the school offering the program to pursue clinicals for your degree.

Choosing the Right Nursing School

The right nursing school depends on what you wish to accomplish in your career.  If you are looking for a fast degree, you might consider the LPN program.  If you want a fast degree with the ability to further you education, the associate’s degree in nursing is the right choice for you.  However, if you want the most flexibility, you should pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Your expectations for your career will determine which nursing school you choose.  Trade schools usually only offer LPN programs, but some do offer associate’s degrees.  Major universities are likely to offer only bachelor’s programs.  With this in mind, you may be limited in what schooling you pursue by the educational centers accessible to you.  No matter which you choose, ensure that they are accredited before you take your first class.