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Home > Education > Types of Nursing Education Programs

Types of Nursing Education Programs

Individuals who are interested in a career in nursing have a choice of various levels of nursing education: baccalaureate degree nursing programs, associate degree nursing programs, or practical nursing programs. Some states also offer diploma programs in nursing; however, there are no diploma programs in Oklahoma. The type of program that you choose may depend on a number of factors, for example, career goals, finances, and accessibility.

When you choose a nursing program, you must first decide whether you want to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (L.P.N.) or a Registered Nurse (R.N.). Licensed practical nurses are prepared to work under the supervision or direction of a registered nurse, licensed physician or dentist, providing safe and effective patient care, performing basic nursing procedures and contributing to the plan of care. Registered nurses are prepared for the full scope of nursing, including development of the plan of care, providing safe and effective nursing care, patient teaching, and managing and supervising nursing care. Specific job responsibilities will vary with the setting; however, all nurses are expected to work within their scope of practice, as defined by the Oklahoma Nursing Practice Act. To assist nurses to determine appropriate roles of the nurse, according to their educational level, the Oklahoma Board of Nursing has developed a document called Goals for Nursing Education and Practice in Oklahoma. This document provides guidelines for nursing education and practice at each level of nursing education. Additional information about each of the types of nursing education programs is described below.

Baccalaureate Degree Nursing Programs

Baccalaureate degree nursing programs are offered in university settings, and generally take four years of full-time study with course work that includes general education and nursing courses. Students may also choose to attend school part-time, in many cases. There are 11 baccalaureate degree nursing programs in Oklahoma that are designed to prepare an individual entering the nursing field to take the licensure examination for Registered Nurse (R.N.) licensure. A Registered Nurse who is prepared at the baccalaureate level has many career opportunities. In addition to the general career opportunities available to all R.N.s, the baccalaureate prepared nurse may have an enhanced ability to advance in administrative, clinical and educational positions.

All of the baccalaureate degree nursing programs in Oklahoma also offer advanced standing opportunities for R.N.s who have an associate degree or diploma, and who want to complete their baccalaureate degree in nursing. There are three additional programs that are open only to R.N.s completing their baccalaureate degree in nursing. Many of the baccalaureate degree programs also offer advanced standing opportunities for people who are L.P.N.s.

Associate Degree Nursing Programs

Associate degree nursing programs are offered in community college settings, and generally take two years of full-time study. General education courses are taken at this level too, as well as nursing courses. Many associate degree nursing students attend school part-time. There are 16 associate degree nursing programs in Oklahoma, and these programs also prepare an individual entering the nursing field to take the licensure examination for Registered Nurse (R.N.) licensure. The R.N. prepared at the associate degree level has many employment opportunities, including providing direct patient care in a variety of settings and direct supervision of L.P.N.s and unlicensed assistants.

Many R.N.s may choose to end their formal education at the associate degree level, but others continue their education in baccalaureate programs, which can be completed in a shorter length of time by the R.N. who has an associate degree.

Practical Nursing Programs

Practical nursing programs are generally offered in technical centers or private vocational schools in Oklahoma. These programs prepare individuals to take the licensure examination to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. A practical nursing program is approximately one year in length for full-time study, although there are part-time options available at this level too. There are 30 practical nursing programs in Oklahoma. L.P.N.s generally work under the supervision of an R.N. in hospital, home care, and long-term care settings, or under the supervision of a physician in a clinic setting.

Because practical nursing education is within the technical system, college credit is usually not earned in a practical nursing program. However, all of the associate degree nursing programs and many of the baccalaureate degree nursing programs allow the L.P.N. to receive advanced standing credit for a portion of the course work, if the L.P.N. wants to continue his/her education.

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Oklahoma Board of Nursing
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