What is a ladder program?

The practical nursing (PN) program may be completed in one year.  Upon completion, the student graduates with a diploma qualifying the graduate to take the licensing exam for practical nursing. The practical nursing program is also the first year of the registered nursing (RN) program which can be completed in an additional year. The graduate of this program receives an associate of applied science degree and is qualified to take the licensing exam for registered nursing.

Does Southwestern have a part-time nursing program?

SWCC does offer the option of completing certain general education courses prior to being a student in the nursing program. The college refers to this as "pre-nursing." If you choose to do this, you're considered an arts and sciences student while completing the pre-nursing courses. Your course load will then be lighter (because you have a portion of the courses completed) when you become a student in the nursing program. Please see the course outline for specific courses that may be taken as a pre-nursing student.

Does Southwestern accept transfer credits from another school?

Yes, if the transcripts validate that the courses were successfully passed with a letter grade of a "C" or higher. Nursing courses will be evaluated in terms of credits, course content, clinical hours, and length of time elapsed.  Call for additional information as transfer questions vary on an individual basis.

If I already have my LPN license can I complete my RN at Southwestern?

Yes, Southwestern accepts active Iowa licensed LPNs into the second year of the curriculum. See "Second Year Requirements."

Will I need the nurse aide (CNA) course to enroll in SWCC's nursing program?

No. Those concepts and skills are covered during the program.

As a SWCC LPN student, am I guaranteed a spot in the RN program?

LPN students must apply for admission into the RN program, as RN admission is not guaranteed. Students seeking RN admission must realize that attaining the highest ranking score possible is critical.  Completion of anatomy & physiology II and microbiology enhances the likelihood of early RN admission.  Students must assume responsibility for the admission process and work closely with admissions staff during this process.  

Can you help me understand the difference between registered nurses, specifically an ADN and BSN?  How does it relate to me?

Being an RN means you have completed a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program resulting in a degree which allows you to take the RN National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) and become a registered nurse.  Associate degree programs offered at community colleges are typically less expensive and allow students to live at home or nearby.  SWCC nursing faculty have always encouraged nursing graduates to pursue advanced nursing education as advanced degrees potentially enhance employment opportunities. Some health care institutions have recently begun making RN hiring decisions on the basis of which degree the individual has attained.

Can I be considered for admission to the program if I have or have had a reportable occurrence?

Students are required to have a background check (including a DCI and DIA review) when they enter the program.  Students who do not successfully complete background check requirements may not be accepted into the program or could be removed.  The Iowa Board of Nursing, the agency which grants nursing licensure in Iowa, requires the nursing program to inform applicants they will not review specific criminal convictions prior to the licensure exam.  Therefore, completion of the nursing program at SWCC does not guarantee that the graduate will be licensed in Iowa if they have a reportable offense. 

I'm really concerned about balancing work, family, and my course load. Are there suggestions that could help me reduce my college load?

SWCC does offer the option of completing certain general education courses prior to being a full-time nursing student. The college refers to this as "pre-nursing." Please see the course outline for specific course information.

When does clinical start?

Lab for practical nursing (PN) students starts the first week of school, and clinical starts in November. Clinical starts following Labor Day, in September, for registered nursing (RN) students. Southwestern students wear all white uniforms with a Southwestern shoulder patch and name pin. Most all white professional uniforms are acceptable.

Are there any scholarships available?

There are scholarships specifically available for nursing students. Please visit the Scholarships Page on SWCC's Web site or inquire through the admissions or financial aid departments.

What other activities are available at Southwestern?

There is an active Student Senate which has representation from all three nursing classes; athletic activities; and active music and art departments. Nursing students may participate in a local student nursing club. The PN Recognition Ceremony highlights the practical nursing year with a candle lighting ceremony toward the end of the first year. The RN Pinning Ceremony emphasizes the accomplishments of the associate degree student. All students participate in the college graduation at the end of the school year in June.