Hospital Based Nursing Programs Overview

There are typically two types of hospital-based nursing programs: the Diploma in Nursing and the LPN-RN (licensed practical nurse to registered nurse) bridge program. Either program takes around two years, full-time, to complete.

Essential Information

Applicants for the diploma program will need a high school degree; applicants for the LPN-RN bridge program will need to be LPNs. Admission to these programs can be competitive, and prerequisite coursework, physical and background checks, and proof of citizenship may be required. Both programs prepare graduates to take the national licensing exam to become RNs.

  • Nursing Program Fields: Diploma in Nursing; LPN-RN
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED (diploma); Must be licensed nursed (LPN-RN); Background check and drug screening; Proof of citizenship
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Other Requirements: Clinical rotations

Diploma in Nursing

A hospital based nursing program allows students to have patient contact at the hospital while learning nursing skills in the classroom. Typically, the classroom portion of a program takes place in conjunction with a nearby college or university, and the hospital provides the clinical coursework. These programs allow students to prepare for state licensing as a registered nurse (RN).

Some programs also allow students to gain experience in different areas of nursing, such as pediatric, surgical, and psychiatric nursing. Hospital based programs teach students to function as part of a medical team and give nursing care to a diverse population of patients. Depending on the program, some students may earn both an associate degree from the school and a diploma in nursing from the hospital. Students take a range of classes in different areas of science, including chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Other topics covered in a program include:

  • Nutrition
  • Medical terminology
  • Adult nursing care
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Pediatric nursing care

Licensed Practical Nurse to RN Program (LPN-RN)

Many hospital based nursing programs additionally offer programs for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who want to become RNs. These LPN-RN programs usually take about two years to complete. Some programs may award an associate degree upon completion of the program, but programs may, alternatively, award a diploma. Students in an LPN-RN program study topics in science, professional development, and nursing. Topics covered in a program may include:

  • Microbiology
  • Computer applications
  • Child development
  • Psychology
  • Public speaking
  • Sociology

Popular Career Options

A hospital nursing program prepares students to work as nurses. Graduates, after becoming licensed, may work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Home healthcare services
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Medical specialty centers
  • Schools

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the BLS, job growth for registered nurses from 2012-2022 is expected to be about 19%. An increase in the demand for healthcare is expected to play a role in the job growth. Job opportunities are expected to increase in outpatient centers, home healthcare and residential healthcare settings.

The BLS reported a mean annual salary of $69,790 for RNs as of May 2014. The 10th-90th percentile range earned $45,880-$98,880.

Continuing Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states require nurses to be licensed ( While nursing licensure is handled at the state level, all states use the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and require that students graduate from an approved nursing program.

After completing a diploma program and becoming an RN, individuals may continue their education and pursue a bachelor's degree and then a master's degree in nursing. Nurses with at least a bachelor's degree may qualify for teaching positions and management positions. According to the BLS, nurses with a master's degree in nursing have the chance to become advanced practice nurses. Advanced practice nursing includes nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners.

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