Nursing Program Types

One-Year Practical Nursing (L.P.N.) Programs:

Program Description

Practical nursing programs are generally offered through community colleges, vocational/technical colleges, or as the first year of an A.D.N (R.N.) bi-level program. These programs prepare an individual to take the licensure examination to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (L.P.N.). A practical nursing program is approximately one year in length and often requires full-time study. Some programs may offer a part-time option, possibly including evenings/week-ends. L.P.N.s generally work under the supervision of an R.N. in hospitals, home care and long-term care settings, or under the supervision of a physician in a clinic setting. There are 18 practical nursing programs in Kansas.

Advantages

  • Some people find that a practical nursing program is the best place to begin a nursing career. The program is relatively economical and can serve as the foundation for a future R.N. educational track, if so desired.
  • Persons who find testing/academics difficult may want to begin with an L.P.N. program, as this program focuses on the basics of nursing care and does not require the depth of understanding that is expected in the R.N. programs.
  • Practical nursing programs that are a part of the community college system offer college credit to enrolled students. In Kansas, students in bi-level programs may exit at the end of the first year and become licensed as a L.P.N.; many of these students decide to continue into the second year at the community college and complete the A.D.N. and gain licensure as an R.N. Most Kansas programs leading to R.N. licensure allow the L.P.N. to received advanced standing credit for a portion of the course work that has been completed, should the L.P.N. choose to pursue additional nursing education. The Kansas Statewide Nursing Articulation Plan, adopted in 1995 by Kansas nursing programs, facilitates the educational mobility of L.P.N. students.

Disadvantages/Challenges

  • Practical nursing programs, offered in technical/vocational settings, may offer credit that is not fully accepted by regionally accredited colleges.

Two-year Associate Degree Nursing (R.N.) Programs

Program Description

Associate degree nursing (A.D.N.) programs are typically offered in community college settings. Hesston College, a private two-year college, also offers an A.D.N. Such programs generally require that the student complete two years of full-time study. Students possessing transfer credit may lighten their academic load, but four semesters of enrollment are still required unless previous nursing credit was obtained (e.g. L.P.N. students). Students enroll in general education courses, support courses that form a foundation for nursing (such as Anatomy and Physiology and Developmental Psychology), and actual nursing courses. Hesston’s associate degree nursing sequence is described in detail in the program information section of the nursing department home page.

There are 19 associate degree nursing programs in Kansas. Upon graduation, students are eligible to apply to take the national licensure exam to become an R.N. Associate Degree nursing graduates have many employment opportunities, including providing direct client care in a variety of settings and directly supervising L.P.N.’s and unlicensed assistive personnel (U.A.P.’s).

Many R.N.s may choose to end their formal education at the associate degree level while others will choose to continue their education in baccalaureate programs (R.N. to B.S.N. track). One recent educational option available for associate degree R.N.s is the R.N. to M.S.N. educational track.

Advantages

  • Often, the A.D.N. program is the program of choice for students who must be ready to enter the nursing profession within two years. This program is especially attractive to people who have been out of high school for a number of years and to those who are seeking a second career.
  • The A.D.N. program is also especially attractive to those who enjoy a practical, hands-on approach to nursing education. These individuals “learn by doing” and in the two-year program, many opportunities for hands-on learning are provided.
  • The A.D.N. nursing graduate is provided with RN earning capabilities within a two-year period. Employment as an R.N. can make a 4-year degree more affordable, especially when one considers how many health care agencies offer tuition reimbursement (help pay for B.S.N. tuition expenses) as a fringe benefit for their employees who are Associate Degree graduates.
  • The A.D.N. graduate can work (part-time or full-time) while going on for an advanced nursing degree (BSN).
  • Many R.N.-B.S.N. programs are designing their curriculum so that A.D.N. graduates can work (full time or part time) and complete a B.S.N. degree within 18 months. A number of area R.N. to B.S.N. programs are designed for adult students and meet one evening a week for 18 months. Hesston College is beginning to establish articulation agreements with colleges to which students often transfer in order to facilitate a seamless transfer experience and provide graduates with clear information on what it would take (academically, financially, and practically) to join an RN-BSN program.

Disadvantages/Challenges

  • Most colleges that offer A.D.N. programs do not also offer B.S.N. programs so students are required to transfer to a second college setting, if they choose to further their education. At least one Kansas school offers both A.D.N. and B.S.N. options. Although many look at this two-college experience as an advantage, some may not.
  • Transfer of nursing credit (and how easily nursing credit transfers) is totally dependent upon policies of the receiving (BSN) institution. Hesston College has articulation agreements in place that ensure a smooth transfer to the nursing programs most frequently chosen by our graduates.

Three-year Associate Degree Nursing Program (A.D.N.)

Program description

Students enroll in one year of general education/support courses and then enter two years of nursing coursework that eventually leads to RN licensure. The courses pre-nursing students take are identical to those in the two-year A.D.N. program; this route simply allows students more time to complete all of the required course work.

Advantages

  • Students are provided with a lighter academic workload each semester (when compared to the two-year program), if so desired.
  • Services and courses assist students in developing reading, writing, and mathematical skills.
  • This educational route enjoys the same advantages outlined under the A.D.N. program above but provides more time within the schedule for students to enjoy college life (extracurricular activities, varsity sports, and dormitory activities).
  • First year courses in the three-year program are very “generic.” Courses are generally applicable to any college major, should career goals change. At the end of the first year of a three-year program, a student could switch from the Three-year Program (A.D.N) to a Four-year transfer program (B.S.N) if so desired without loss of academic credit or time.

Disadvantages/Challenges

  • Students/parents must accumulate one additional year of tuition/fees (as compared with the two-year A.D.N. program).

View Hesston College’s Admission and Progression policies for the 3-year A.D.N.

Four-year Baccalaureate Degree Nursing (B.S.N.-Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Programs

Program Description

Baccalaureate degree nursing programs are offered in college/university settings and generally require four years of full-time study. However, many colleges also offer students the choice of part-time enrollment. There are 11 B.S.N. programs in Kansas, designed to prepare the graduate for eligibility to apply to take the national licensure exam to become an R.N.

An R.N. who is prepared at the baccalaureate level has many career opportunities, including the preparation that qualifies an individual to advance into an educational program offering a master’s degree with a major in nursing.

Most of the baccalaureate degree programs in Kansas also offer advanced standing opportunities for L.P.N.s (L.P.N. to R.N.) as well as R.N.s who hold an associate degree or nursing diploma (R.N. to B.S.N. programs) who want to complete their baccalaureate degree in nursing. There is one program in the state of Kansas that is open only to R.N.s completing their baccalaureate degree in nursing (Tabor College-Wichita).

Advantages

  • The first two years of the four-year curriculum are primarily general education/support courses. These courses are designed to be transferable and can be taken at Hesston College or another college of the student’s choice. The choice of a four-year transfer program allows the student to have a “two college” experience if desired.
  • Students in the four-year baccalaureate program generally feel like “mainstream” college students during the first two years of college. These first two years of college offer students participation in a variety of extracurricular activities.
  • The four-year baccalaureate program should be strongly considered by recent high school graduates who feel certain that they are ready for a four-year college experience.
  • The B.S.N. program prepares graduates for nursing roles in the community (i.e. public health, industrial nursing) and serves as the basic foundation for graduate nursing education.

Disadvantages/Challenges

  • Students/parents accumulate four years of college expense (tuition/fees).
  • Students cannot take licensure exam or work as an RN until graduation (4 years after entry into college).