How to Choose a Hospital-Based Nursing School

Hospital-based nursing programs are an alternative to university-based education. Advantages include extensive, hands-on clinical training and a shorter time period to graduation. In addition, some hospitals offer benefits such as loan forgiveness if a graduate stays on to work at the hospital. When choosing a hospital-based nursing school, students should consider accreditation, facilities and other factors.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospital-based nursing programs are less common than those offered by colleges and universities. They typically award a diploma, but they may also confer an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Hospital-Based Nursing Programs

These hospitals offer nursing programs:

Hospital/Program Location Degrees Offered Tuition & Fees (2016-2017)*
Ohio Valley Hospital School of Nursing Kennedy Township, PA Associate's, Bachelor's $15,100 (first year)
Holy Name Medical Center School of Nursing Teaneck, NJ Diploma $21,139 (RN, first year); $42,229 (LPN, entire two semester program)
Brockton Hospital School of Nursing Brockton, MA Diploma $40,232 (first year)
Abington Memorial Hospital, Dixon School of Nursing Willow Grove, PA Diploma $13,165
West Penn Hospital School of Nursing Pittsburgh, PA Diploma $18,294
Finger Lakes Health College of Nursing Geneva, NY 1-year LPN, Associate's $6,920 (LPN); $11,920 (RN)
St. John's Riverside Hospital, Cochran School of Nursing Yonkers, NY Associate's $563 per credit
Mercy Hospital College of Nursing Miami, FL LPN to RN Associate's $8,540 (total cost of program)
St. Luke's School of Nursing Bethlehem, PA RN Diploma $15,200 (first year)

Sources: School websites

School Selection Criteria

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a hospital-based nursing program:

  • All states require that graduates pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as registered nurses, and some states may have additional qualifications, so students should make sure prospective programs meet the requirements for their state.
  • Investigate a school's NCLEX-RN exam passage rate and the percentage of graduates who find work within six months and compare these with state and national averages, keeping in mind that the number should be near 100% due to the widespread nursing shortage.
  • Students should make sure a hospital's facilities are modern and can offer extensive clinical opportunities.
  • Students may want to consider a program's tuition forgiveness loans, as well as seek a program with a small student-to-faculty ratio.

Diploma Programs

Most diploma programs take 2-3 years to complete. The first-year curriculum will focus on the foundations of nursing practice, such as anatomy and physiology. The curriculum following the first year is more specific and in-depth. Students will also complete extensive clinical hours.

Even though most nursing training is provided through traditional postsecondary institutions, there are hospitals that offer accredited training programs where students can get comprehensive on-site training with a wide range of patients and access to state-of-the-art equipment.

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