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.

Does Southwestern have a part-time nursing program?

SWCC does not have a part-time nursing program; however, the college 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 a student chooses to do this, he/she is considered an arts and sciences student while completing the pre-nursing courses. The student's course load will then be lighter (because he/she has a portion of the courses completed) when he/she becomes a student in the nursing program. Once the student is in the nursing program, SWCC nursing courses must be taken in sequence as they are each offered just once per year.  Please see the course outline for specific courses that may be taken as a pre-nursing student.

Are any of the nursing courses offered online?

The required nursing coursework is not available online; however, the pre-nursing courses, such as essentials of anatomy and physiology (BIO 162), introduction to psychology (PSY 111), developmental psychology (PSY 121), composition I (ENG 106), and nutrition (BIO 151) may be taken online.  The following science-related courses may also be taken online: essentials of anatomy and physiology (w/ lab) (BIO 163), human anatomy and physiology I w/lab (BIO 168), human anatomy and physiology II w/lab (BIO 173), and microbiology (w/lab) (BIO 186). 

What is a ladder program?

Southwestern's practical nursing (PN) program may be completed in one year.  Upon completion, the student graduates with a diploma qualifying him/her to take the licensing exam for practical nursing. The practical nursing program is also the first year of the registered nursing (RN) program which may be completed in one 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.

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. Students must assume responsibility for the admission process and work closely with the admissions staff throughout this process. 

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

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

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 the student has completed a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing (ADN) or a four-year Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) program resulting in a degree which allows the student 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. 

What opportunities are there to obtain a BSN or continue on for other advanced nursing education?

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.  The nursing section of the Transfer Guides by Major page on the SWCC website may be extremely beneficial for students who are looking at transferring on to a bachelor's degree program.

Are there scholarships available at SWCC?

There are scholarships specifically available for nursing students. All students are also encouraged to apply for general scholarships through the SWCC Education Foundation.  Please visit the Scholarships Page on SWCC's website or inquire through the admissions or financial aid departments.

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've been starting to hear the term "Stand Alone" nursing.  What is a "Stand Alone" nursing program?

The term “stand alone” is sometimes utilized in ADN nursing programs at community colleges or vocational schools.  In a stand alone program, the classroom and clinical requirements for the practical nurse are integrated into the RN program.  Instead of entering as an LPN student, the individual starts the program as an RN student.  Graduates are not required to have an LPN license, therefore, if they do not complete the RN program, they will only be able to work as a nursing assistant, not as an LPN.  Because LPN concepts are infused into the RN curriculum, it is very difficult to transfer to other colleges between PN and RN programs.  It is critically important to be informed and make an educated decision about which type of program to pursue.  The SWCC nursing faculty believes the ladder concept has several advantages for students/graduates.  Be sure to visit with the SWCC nursing chair about this issue if you have further questions.