Iowa is an excellent state to work in as a registered nurse. The demand is high and it’s set to grow even more in the next coming years.
Now, to ensure your success in the nursing field, you have to be careful about the nursing program you’ll get yourself into. The right program should be able to equip you with the skills and knowledge you’ll need to provide safe and effective care to your patients.
To help you with that, the guide below lists down not just the best nursing program in Iowa but also the steps you have to take towards being a registered nurse.
Requirements: How To Become An RN In Iowa
The requirements for registered nurses in Iowa aren’t that different from other states. There are three main things you need to accomplish before you can work as an RN in Iowa.
Complete An Accredited Nursing Program
You’ll find tons of schooling options in Iowa and this can make choosing a lot more difficult. To make the process easier for you, there are a couple of things you can start looking into when doing your research.
First is accreditation. When a nursing program is accredited, it means that it conforms to the common high standard of education. In Iowa, the nursing programs are usually accredited by the ACEN or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Another thing you should check is the program’s outcomes. See the student demographic data as well as its NCLEX pass rates in the last couple of years. It’s also a good idea to check the satisfaction rate of both students and graduates.
Pass The NCLEX
To apply for the NCLEX in Iowa, you’ll need to apply for licensure with the Iowa State Board of Nursing. After that, you can register and pay with the testing center which is Pearson Vue.
You need to complete the items within your Examination Packet. Once you are done with that, you’ll need to wait for your Authorization to Test or ATT before you can schedule your test.
Get Your Nursing License
In Iowa, you can apply for licensure by examination or endorsement. After completing your application and paying the required fees, you’ll need to submit the following:
- A waiver form for criminal background check
- Two fingerprint cards
- Official transcripts
For licensure by endorsement, you’ll need to provide the following:
- Verification of license
- Proof that you graduated from a state-approved program
- Passing score (NCLEX)
ADN Programs In Iowa
ADN programs are a popular option among nursing students. They are shorter and don’t cost as much as other nursing programs. Plus, class sizes are smaller, too.
If you wish to enroll in an ADN program, you’ll be asked to submit the following:
- Proof of completed pre-requisite courses
- A GPA of 2.0 or higher
- Official transcripts
- Background and drug testing
LPN To RN Programs In Iowa
A lot of licensed practical nurses are choosing to continue their education so that they can become RNs. It gives them more opportunities, responsibilities, and better pay.
LPN to RN programs in IOWA are generally shorter than taking an RN program from the start. In fact, there are programs that can be completed in as little as 2 years. The duration will depend on your program of choice.
You have two options: an LPN to ADN and LPN to BSN program. If you want the quickest route, choose the first one. However, you should take note that a lot of employers prefer nurses with a BSN degree.
BSN Programs In Iowa
BSN programs require more time to complete. As a 4-year degree program, it teaches nursing students about ethics, leadership, the theoretical framework of the practice, and clinical skills. After graduation, students can take the NCLEX-RN exam and earn their license to practice.
If 4 years seem too long for you, there are accelerated programs you can look into. These programs can be completed in just 2.5 hours. However, they do come with a higher cost.
Most institutions require applicants to submit the following:
- Letters of recommendation
- Official high school transcript showing a minimum of 3.0 GPA
- Proof of volunteer work
Take note that these are just some of the most common requirements. Your program or school of choice may have a different set of admission requirements.
MSN Programs In Iowa
If you are thinking of taking a ‘specialist’ role instead of a ‘generalist’, MSN programs are for you. You can complete one in just a year or more depending on your level of commitment. The average length of these programs is around 30 months.
To qualify, you’ll need to have a BSN degree from an accredited institution. Additionally, you’ll be asked to submit a cover letter with a professional resume and letters of professional recommendation.
Accelerated Nursing Programs In Iowa
As mentioned earlier, there are accelerated nursing programs in Iowa that you can look into if you want to fast-track your career. These programs cost more. Take this into account when looking for searching for the right institution for you.
Best Nursing Programs In Iowa
|University of Dubuque||✔||╳||╳||View School Profile|
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|Mount Mercy University||✔||✔||✔||View School Profile|
|Luther College||✔||╳||╳||View School Profile|
|Northwestern College||✔||✔||╳||View School Profile|
|Coe College||✔||╳||╳||View School Profile|
|Morningside College||✔||✔||╳||View School Profile|
|University of Iowa||✔||✔||╳||View School Profile|
A Closer Look At The Best Nursing Programs In Iowa
Choosing the best nursing program in Iowa isn’t easy. Since your choice can affect your career in the future, you have to be extra careful when picking.
To help you with that, the following schools and nursing programs have been carefully reviewed based on NCLEX pass rate, satisfaction level of both students and graduates, and post-graduation employment data.
1. University Of Dubuque
The University of Dubuque’s BSN program is designed to equip students with everything they need to know to face the challenging world of nursing. Its curriculum aims to guide students in developing self-analysis, optimizing patient and family health, and showing excellent leadership and communication skills.
One of the nice things about its program is that it gives students the chance to experience what it’s like to work in hospital inpatient care and even in community settings.
2. Allen College UnityPoint Health
Allen College UnityPoint Health is located in Waterloo. Although it’s a small-school college, it doesn’t fall short when it comes to the quality of its education.
The college offers plenty of options for nursing students. It has a traditional BSN program and an online RN-BSN bridge program.
Allen College UnityPoint Health also has an accelerated BSN program. Students may choose between the face-to-face option and the hybrid option. Both of them can be completed in 4 semesters and cost around $45,000. You can find out more about these options here.
3. Dordt University
Dordt College is a private school located in Sioux Center. Because it’s near Minnesota and South Dakota, its graduates often find jobs right outside the state.
The college only offers a bachelor’s degree. Its program involves completing 48 credits of nursing courses and more than 700 hours of clinical experience. Students are required to complete additional time both in simulation and lab, too.
It has a low instructor-to-student ratio. This is a good thing for students since it provides an excellent opportunity for one-on-one mentorship.
4. St. Ambrose University
St. Ambrose University has small classes. This enables students to learn as much as they can from their instructors.
Plus, it offers plenty of options, too. It has the traditional BSN, an online RN-BSN bridge program, and an acceleration option.
5. Mount Mercy University
Located in Cedar Rapids, Mount Mercy University is one of the most recognized BSN programs in the state. With a focus on hands-on experience and high-quality theoretical nursing content, it’s able to prepare its graduates to achieve a pass rate that’s beyond the national average.
To qualify, you’ll need to have a high school GPA of 3.5 and a minimum ACT score of 25. You can see the full list of requirements here.
Apart from its undergraduate nursing programs, it also offers MSN and DNP programs.
6. Luther College
Luther College’s traditional program gives students the chance to study abroad. There, they are given the chance to learn and experience other region’s health care delivery system.
Its Nursing Department has impressive facilities. It has 3 clinical lab rooms where students can work in a simulated environment. It also has high and mid-fidelity mannequins to help learners.
As a private school, its program’s price tag is quite hefty. The good news is that most of its students are able to receive financial aid.
7. Northwestern College
Northwestern College’s BSN program involves more than 700 hours of clinical experience. Its curriculum focuses not just on evidence-based practice and informatics but integration of faith, too.
It has an early acceptance program as well. This allows students who have impressive high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores to qualify for the program.
The college has traditional BSN and online RN-BSN programs.
8. Coe College
Located in Cedar Rapids, Coe College is one of the top small schools in the country. It promises quality education to its students and gives them the option to study in Tanzania, England or Korea.
Its program has impressive outcomes. Its NCLEX pass rate is high. Plus, all of its graduates were able to find work within a year of finishing their degree, too.
9. Morningside College
Morningside College is located in Sioux City. It’s the same area where its students are expected to complete their degree as well as their clinicals.
The program’s tuition isn’t that high. It’s actually lower than others, particularly with the financial aid it offers its students.
If you are thinking of earning an MSN or a doctoral degree, you should look into its online graduate nursing degrees. You can find out more about them here.
10. University Of Iowa
The University of Iowa is considered not just one of the top public research institutions in the country but the oldest in Iowa, too. It has one of the most popular nursing schools in the area with several options for its students.
Just take a look at its 3+1 RN-BSN online bridge options. Through this route, nursing students can complete the 3-year degree through an Iowa community college. After that, they can finish their BSN program at the university.
Considering that, University of Iowa offers one of the most affordable ways to complete a BSN degree in Iowa. Plus, its in-state tuition is low, too.