Registered nurse diploma programs available through hospitals are run on an apprenticeship model. Didactic and clinical courses in these programs may be offered during daytime and evening hours. Licensed practical nurses seeking RN training can find career-transition programs at some hospitals as well. These programs may include both evening and online courses.
Registered Nurse Diploma Program
At the few hospitals which still offer RN training, the program is conducted like an apprenticeship, and students take science courses in anatomy, physiology and sociology as well as receive education in real-world nursing skills alongside professionals. Program objectives include training students to view patients holistically, treating sympathetically but according to evidence-based practice. After completing this program, students are awarded diplomas and are eligible to take the national registered nurse examination, the NCLEX-RN.
Because hospital-based RN programs are non-college courses, most hospitals require only that an applicant have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, preference will be given to those students who demonstrate an academic aptitude, including students with GPAs of at least 2.8 and those who graduate in the top third of their high school classes. Specific science prerequisites usually include one year each of biology and chemistry.
Many programs require that students complete around 70 credits to receive the diploma. Roughly, 30 credits consist of non-nursing science and liberal arts courses, with the remaining 40 credits made up of nursing-specific classwork.
- Nursing theory
- Fundamentals of nursing practice
- Family-centered nursing
- Patient management
- Psychiatric nursing
- Nursing across the lifespan
Licensed Practical Nurse Transition
Students who have previously earned certificates to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) may be able to apply to LPN-to-RN transition programs, which is also sometimes offered through hospital-based RN programs. Courses usually include 3-credit, distance-learning or evening classes, and they are designed to facilitate the transfer of professional skills to a more advanced level of practice and prepare students for the national registered nurse examination.
Continuing Education Information
Many hospital-based RN programs have 2-year degree completion agreements in place with local community colleges, which means the student can earn Associate of Science degrees after the completion of several additional courses at the college. Some hospitals have agreements with 4-year colleges and universities, so students can apply their nursing diploma coursework towards earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
It is anticipated that there will be ample work opportunities for registered nurses during the 2014-2024 time period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as positions in the field are expected to increase by 16%. The BLS estimates that the national median salary of registered nurses was around $67,490 per year in 2015, though the actual figure varies by level of education, experience and geographic location.
RN diploma programs and LPN-transition programs are offered by some hospitals, though they aren't as common as nursing degree programs at traditional colleges and universities. Graduates of these programs can pursue entry-level work in registered nursing, a fast-growing career field. They can also pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in nursing.