Nursing: Practical Nursing Diploma

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Degree, Certificate or Diploma


Council Bluffs Campus
Clarinda Center
Shelby County Center

Program Information

Doctors might be higher profiled in the health care industry, but Practical Nurses play an extremely important role in the care of patients. You can enter this important and exciting profession by enrolling in Iowa Western’s Practical Nursing study program. You will earn a diploma and prepare to write the National Council of State Boards of Nursing examination. You will also have the opportunity to progress and complete the Associate Degree Nursing program to become a Registered Nurse (RN).

In this program, you’ll learn under the close direction and supervision of a registered nurse or physician. The courses will serve as the foundation for Iowa Western’s Associate Degree Nursing program. You’ll receive 12 hours worth of lab work per week and get hands-on experience in rehab facilities, daycare facilities, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

Nurses are in high demand. You can enter the job market immediately after graduating or continue toward a bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse for even higher-paying positions.

The Nursing programs are approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing, RiverPoint Business Park, 400 SW 8th Street, Suite B, Des Moines, IA 50309-4685, (515) 281-3255.

Students who complete this diploma will earn credit toward completion of the Nursing: Associate Degree Nursing AAS degree.

Job Outlook

2,467 Jobs (2020)

+8.6% Change from 2020-2025

Data is from the Omaha Metropolitans Area, and the seven counties in Southwest Iowa that Iowa Western serves

What will you do

The Licensed Practical Nursing program is designed to place students into the workforce upon completion of the one-year diploma. Practical Nurses care for the sick, injured, convalescent, and disabled under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. They are responsible for providing basic bedside care, such as taking vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, and pulse), treating pressure ulcers, administering injections, and applying dressings. Other on-the-job duties handled by a Practical Nurse include helping patients with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene. All states require Licensed Practical Nurses to pass a licensing examination known as the NCLEX-PN after completing a state-approved practical nursing program. Licensed Practical Nurses are in high demand, especially in nursing homes. While there will be an abundance of jobs for nurses in the next decade, those wishing to work in a hospital setting will experience some competition, simply because hospitals are serving fewer inpatients and are not increasing their nursing staff. The earnings of Licensed Practical Nurses vary widely, depending on skill level, location, and experience.


  • Entry: $28.97
  • Average: $36.11
  • Experienced: $55.37

Career Examples

  • Registered Nurses
  • Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Travel Nurses- Medical/Surgical
  • Labor and Delivery Nurses
  • Assistant professors
  • Certified Medication Aided
  • Cardiovascular Operation Room Nurses

Program Prerequisites

General Education Courses that must be completed prior to first semester of nursing: 

ENG 105 - Composition I 3.0 Credit(s)
PSY 121 - Developmental Psychology 3.0 Credit(s)
BIO 168 - Human Anatomy and Physiology I 4.0 Credit(s)
BIO 173 - Human Anatomy and Physiology II 4.0 Credit(s)

Semester Total: 14.0 Credits

First Semester

PNN 228 - Foundations of Nursing I 6.0 Credit(s)
PNN 290 - Health Assessment Across the Lifespan 2.0 Credit(s)
PNN 721 - Foundations of Nursing Clinical I 2.0 Credit(s)
SPC 112 - Public Speaking 3.0 Credit(s)
PNN 201 - Introduction to Math and Medications 1.0 Credit(s)

Semester Total: 14.0 Credits

Second Semester

PNN 229 - Foundations of Nursing II 4.0 Credit(s)
PNN 723 - Foundations of Nursing Clinical II 2.0 Credit(s)
PNN 282 - Pharmacology II 2.0 Credit(s)
PNN 446 - Nursing Care of the Growing Family 4.0 Credit(s)
BIO 151 - Nutrition 3.0 Credit(s)

Semester Total: 15.0 Credits

Total Semester Hours Required 43.0


Courses with PNN prefix must be completed in the sequence listed above. Students must earn a “C” or higher in all required courses in order to graduate.


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Program Outcomes

Upon the successful completion of the program students will:

Upon completion of the Practical Nursing Program, the graduate will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Implement the nursing process, under supervision of a registered nurse, for clients across the lifespan, with common health needs, for the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of optimal health.
  2. Communicate effectively with clients and the health care team to promote, maintain, and restore the optimal health of clients across the lifespan with common health needs.
  3. Implement and reinforce the teaching of clients with common health needs according to an established teaching plan.
  4. Coordinate the delivery of nursing care for clients across the life span with common health needs in a variety of structured health care settings.
  5. Assume the roles and responsibilities of the licensed practical nurse within the health care environment.
  6. Prepare for licensure and/or an advanced education.

Program Disclaimers

  • Salary information from EMSI Analyst Database