Education Programs Information
Types of Education Programs
Individuals who are interested in a career in nursing have a choice of various levels of nursing education: baccalaureate degree nursing programs, associate degree nursing programs, or practical nursing programs. Some states also offer diploma programs in nursing; however, there are no diploma programs in Oklahoma. The type of program that you choose may depend on a number of factors, for example, career goals, finances, and accessibility.
When you choose a nursing program, you must first decide whether you want to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (L.P.N.) or a Registered Nurse (R.N.). Licensed practical nurses are prepared to work under the supervision or direction of a registered nurse, licensed physician or dentist, providing safe and effective patient care, performing basic nursing procedures and contributing to the plan of care.
Registered nurses are prepared for the full scope of nursing, including development of the plan of care, providing safe and effective nursing care, patient teaching, and managing and supervising nursing care. Specific job responsibilities will vary with the setting; however, all nurses are expected to work within their scope of practice, as defined by the Oklahoma Nursing Practice Act.
To assist nurses to determine appropriate roles of the nurse, according to their educational level, the Oklahoma Board of Nursing has developed a document called Goals for Nursing Education and Practice in Oklahoma. This document provides guidelines for nursing education and practice at each level of nursing education. Additional information about each of the types of nursing education programs is described below.
Associate Degree Nursing Programs
Associate degree nursing programs are offered in community college settings, and generally take two years of full-time study. General education courses are taken at this level too, as well as nursing courses. Many associate degree nursing students attend school part-time.
Associate degree nursing programs prepare an individual entering the nursing field to take the licensure examination for Registered Nurse (R.N.) licensure. The R.N. prepared at the associate degree level has many employment opportunities, including providing direct patient care in a variety of settings and direct supervision of L.P.N.s and unlicensed assistants.
Many R.N.s may choose to end their formal education at the associate degree level, but others continue their education in baccalaureate programs, which can be completed in a shorter length of time by the R.N. who has an associate degree.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Programs
Enrollment in an advanced practice registered nursing program requires an individual to hold a registered nurse license. APRN programs are required to employ full-time faculty with a master’s or higher degree in nursing.
Four roles of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are licensed in Oklahoma:
1) Certified Nurse Practitioner (APRN-CNP);
2) Certified Nurse Midwife (APRN-CNM);
3) Clinical Nurse Specialist (APRN-CNS); and
4) Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (APRN-CRNA).
Advanced Unlicensed Assistant Programs
There is confusion among nurses about the difference between a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and an Advanced Unlicensed Assistant (AUA). In Oklahoma, certification as a nursing assistant is required for those who work in long-term care facilities. The training, certification, and regulation of CNAs is through the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Their training includes basic nursing assistant skills involving hygiene, mobility, and nutrition, among others. For questions about the role of CNAs, please call the Nurse Aide Registry at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, (405) 271-4085. In Oklahoma, certification as a CNA is not required for nursing assistants who work in acute care facilities. The training program for AUAs is designed to build on basic skills traditionally performed by nursing assistants. Selected advanced skills, legal and ethical aspects of health care and appropriate personal behaviors are presented in a format combining classroom lecture and discussion, demonstration, practice lab and clinical application. Graduates of an AUA training program are prepared to safely perform technical skills that are included on an approved skills list. Once the individual has completed the training they apply for certification. The Board ensures that all application requirements have been met, approves the application, and notifies the applicant. The applicant then schedules an appointment to take the written examination and skills examination at an approved test site. A testing service grades the examination and notifies the Board of the results. If the candidate is successful, the Board will then issue the certification.
Baccalaureate Degree Nursing Programs
Baccalaureate degree nursing programs are offered in university settings, and generally take four years of full-time study with course work that includes general education and nursing courses. Students may also choose to attend school part-time, in many cases. Baccalaureate degree nursing programs are designed to prepare an individual entering the nursing field to take the licensure examination for Registered Nurse (R.N.) licensure. A Registered Nurse who is prepared at the baccalaureate level has many career opportunities. In addition to the general career opportunities available to all R.N.s, the baccalaureate prepared nurse may have an enhanced ability to advance in administrative, clinical and educational positions.
All of the baccalaureate degree nursing programs in Oklahoma also offer advanced standing opportunities for R.N.s who have an associate degree or diploma, and who want to complete their baccalaureate degree in nursing. There are three additional programs that are open only to R.N.s completing their baccalaureate degree in nursing. Many of the baccalaureate degree programs also offer advanced standing opportunities for people who are L.P.N.s.
Licensed Practical Nurse Programs
Practical nursing programs are generally offered in technical centers or private vocational schools in Oklahoma. These programs prepare individuals to take the licensure examination to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. A practical nursing program is approximately one year in length for full-time study, although there are part-time options available at this level too. L.P.N.s generally work under the supervision of an R.N. in hospital, home care, and long-term care settings, or under the supervision of a physician in a clinic setting.
Because practical nursing education is within the technical system, college credit is usually not earned in a practical nursing program. However, all of the associate degree nursing programs and many of the baccalaureate degree nursing programs allow the L.P.N. to receive advanced standing credit for a portion of the course work, if the L.P.N. wants to continue their education
Nurse Refresher Courses
Individuals may demonstrate evidence of continued qualifications for practice or evidence of eligibility for initial licensure or relicensure through completion of a refresher course. “Refresher course” means a structured program approved by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing, offered by an educational institution approved to offer a nursing education program leading to licensure, for the purpose of providing an update of nursing theoretical content and clinical practice for individuals who have previously completed a Board-approved nursing education program.
The refresher course will be a competency-based model including a didactic component and a clinical component. A health care facility-based preceptor model may be used to supplement faculty instruction in the clinical component. Faculty teaching in the refresher course will hold a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing.