TYPES OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
Educational programs available for nurses include practical or vocational, registered nursing, graduatenursing, continuing education, and in-service.
Licensed Practical (Vocational) Nursing Programs
Practical or vocational nursing programs are provided by community colleges, vocational schools,hospitals, or other independent health agencies. These programs usually last 9 or 12 months and provide both classroom and clinical experiences. At the end of the program, the graduate takes the NCLEX-PN toobtain a license as a practical or vocational nurse.Licensed practical nurses practice under the supervision of a registered nurse in a hospital, nursing home,rehabilitation center, or home health agency. LPNs (LVNs) usually provide basic direct technical care toclients. The registered nurse, who has the knowledge and skill to make more sophisticated nursing judgments, is responsible for assessing the client's condition, planning care, and evaluating the effect of thecare provided.
Registered Nursing Programs
Currently, three major educational routes lead to RN licensure: diploma, associate degree, and baccalaureate programs.
After Florence Nightingale established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas'sHospital in England in 1860, the concept traveled quickly to North America. Hospital administratorswelcomed the idea of training schools as a source of free or inexpensive staffing for the hospital. Nursingeducation in the early years largely took the form of apprenticeships. With little formal classroominstruction, students learned by doing, that is, by providing care to clients in hospitals. There was nostandardization of curriculum and no accreditation. Programs were designed to meet the service needs of the hospital, not the educational needs of the students.The 3-year diploma programs were the dominant nursing programs from the late 1800s and were the major source of graduates until the mid-1960s. Today's diploma nursing programs have changed markedly fromthe original Nightingale model. In the United States, diploma programs are hospital-based educational programs that provide a rich clinical experience for nursing students. These programs are often associatedwith colleges or universities.Almost 70 NLNAC accredited diploma programs in 18 states provide this avenue for students desiring aneducation in nursing ( NLNAC, 2005). The number of diploma nursing programs has declined since theANA resolution in 1965 which recommended that "education for those who work in nursing should be placed in institutions of learning within the general system of education," that "minimal preparation for beginning professional nursing practice at the present time should be the baccalaureate degree education innursing," and that "associate degree education in nursing should be the minimum preparation for beginningtechnical nursing practice" (ANA, 1965,p. 107).
Community College/Associate Degree Programs
Community college/associate degree nursing programs, which arose in the early 1950s, were the first andonly educational programs for nursing that were systematically developed from planned research andcontrolled experimentation. Several trends and events influenced the development of these programs: (a)the Cadet Nurse Corps, (b) the community college movement, (c) earlier nursing studies, and (d) Dr.Mildred Montag's proposal for an associate degree.The Cadet Nurse Corps of the United States was legislated and financed during World War II to provideadditional nurses to meet both military and civilian nursing needs. The corps proved that qualified nursescould be educated in less time than the traditional 3 years.