Once upon a time…prospective nursing students had one option for attending nursing school: enroll in a hospital nursing program. Of course this educational model made sense: bring nursing students right into the hospital where they would learn everything they possibly needed to know AND work as aides at the same time. Upon graduation they would have instant jobs if they desired and be ready to hit the ground running.
Today the hospital programs are the endangered species among nursing programs. Some of the more popular and expansive schools are part of universities and four-year colleges. Still others have architected elegant online environments that rival any campus-based program AND offer mirror-images of the same high-quality curriculums.
Distance Learning nursing programs were once relegated to online educational pioneers like University of Phoenix and Drexel University—both excellent providers. But contemporary brick and mortar nursing schools including the heavy-hitters—Duke, Vanderbilt, and University of North Carolina—are all delivering state-of-the-art nursing programs to a growing online audience.
Programs like these kill two birds with one stone: 1.) they engage students from all regions, they are no longer limited by geography, and 2.) they appeal to professional nursing students that are constrained by work or family when it comes to campus-based degree programs.
Some of the most popular nursing school programs by far take place in the nation’s community college system. Shop within your region for two-year community colleges that offer Practical Nursing or Associates in Nursing programs. These are field-tested nursing degrees and offer fast-tracks to solid careers with future career mobility and further educational opportunities should you want or need them. The Associates of Science in Nursing gives you all the skills and academic know-how you need to pass your NCLEX-RN and step right into a pro nursing job. When you want to finish your BSN, opt for one of the equally popular RN-to-BSN degree tracks.
University nursing schools remain the hot tickets for advanced practice nursing degrees, as well as undergraduate programs. But when you want a competitive and exciting nursing degree like nursing business, informatics, or a practitioner degree, you head for a university program.
But a few ultra-specialized nursing schools stand out as parts of university programs or even as standalone schools. Especially unique in the nursing degrees are the nursing anesthesia and nurse midwifery programs. Both involve professional grad-level RNs in practice that goes well beyond that of their former professions.