Nursing Schools in Iowa – IA | Colleges | Degree | Education

Nursing Schools in Iowa – IA

An average of 2,270 openings for registered nurses (RNs) is expected to be available in Iowa annually between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Data from the United States Census Bureau shows that the median age in Iowa was around 38 years and over 17% of the population of the state was older than 65 as of 2018. Based on these facts, it seems likely that the demand for healthcare services and professionals, such as nurses, may increase in the coming years. Considering these factors, it may be the right time to begin your nursing career in Iowa.

Nursing Education, Schools and Career Overview may be a helpful guide to the qualifications you need for a nursing career. Many accredited nursing schools in Iowa typically offer different nursing degree programs in on-campus, online and hybrid formats. You can choose from a wide range of nursing degree programs based on your interests, the time you can devote, and the financial commitment you can make.

Here, we've compiled a summary of different nursing degree programs in Iowa, the type of financial aid you could receive, and how to get the license and certification needed for a nursing career in Iowa.

What nursing schools are there in Iowa?

Iowa is home to many nursing schools that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. You can choose from a number of nursing schools in Iowa such as:

  • Coe College
  • Kirkwood Community College
  • Luther College
  • Mount Mercy University
  • St. Ambrose University
  • University of Iowa

Nursing degree programs in Iowa are generally approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing. Let's explore in detail a few of the nursing degree programs available in Iowa.

  • To enter the job market quickly as a trained nurse, you could complete a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. Kirkwood College may offer an ADN program, in which the first two semesters may lead to a practical nursing (PN) diploma and completing additional semesters can lead to an ADN.
  • Many schools such as The University of Iowa, Mount Mercy University, Coe College and St. Ambrose University may offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program. You could also explore Luther College's nursing program that integrates liberal arts and professional nursing courses.
  • Students with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree can complete an accelerated BSN degree program in around 16 months from schools such as St. Ambrose University.
  • Practicing RNs could complete an RN-to-BSN degree program to help boost their careers. The RN-BSN degree program from schools such as Mount Mercy University, The University of Iowa and St. Ambrose University can be completed in around 15-24 months in either on-campus or online formats.
  • Schools such as The University of Iowa and Mount Mercy University may offer a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program that builds on baccalaureate study and allows students to specialize in a particular area. The program could last between 18 months and three years.
  • A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program may help you prepare for leadership and advanced practice roles. The DNP degree programs from schools such as The University of Iowa and Mount Mercy University can take between 1.5-3.5 and five years to complete.
  • If you have a BSN or MSN and want to contribute the knowledge of nursing science, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree may be an especially useful qualification. The PhD in nursing from The University of Iowa is typically available to BSN and MSN degree holders.

What financial aid can I get for nursing programs in Iowa?

You can apply for a number of financial aid programs to support your nursing education in Iowa. These may include federal and state programs in the form of loans, tuition waivers, grants, and work-study programs. You could also apply for nursing scholarships in Iowa. Examples are:

  • Mary Virginia Macrae Merit Award for Medical Training — may be granted by the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Iowa to Iowa residents pursuing a nursing program at an accredited school in the state.
  • Iowa Health Care Association Foundation Scholarship Program — may be granted to candidates pursuing nursing or certain other healthcare qualifications at an accredited school. The applicant may need to be employed at an IHCA member healthcare facility to be eligible.
  • Genesis Health Services Foundation BSN Nursing Scholarship — may be awarded as a one-time forgivable loan to BSN students from an Iowa or Illinois institution. Permanent residents of the bi-state service area of the Genesis Health System may be eligible. Recipients may also need to be employed at a Genesis Medical Center for at least one year after graduation.

What do I need to know about certifications in nursing in Iowa?

You may need nursing certification from the Iowa Board of Nursing to practice as a nurse in Iowa. The national professional nursing certifying bodies that are approved by the Board are:

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
  • National Certification Corporation
  • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses
  • Pediatric Nursing Certification Board

With nursing certification in Iowa, an ARNP could qualify as a certified clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse midwife, certified nurse practitioner or certified registered nurse anesthetist. Eligible ARNPs may also be granted prescriptive authority, something which generally enhances the responsibilities of and demand for ARNPs.

Do I need a nursing license in Iowa? How do I apply for it?

You may need a nursing license from the Iowa Board of Nursing to work as a nurse in Iowa. Graduates of Board approved nursing programs are usually required to pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to be eligible for licensure as RNs. To apply for licensure, you may need to:

  • complete an online application form from the Board
  • submit an official nursing program transcript, showing the date of graduation and the degree granted
  • submit two fingerprint cards, a criminal history background waiver form, and criminal history documentation
  • register with Pearson Vue and pay the exam fee
  • schedule and appear for the NCLEX once you receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) from the Board by email

Iowa is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), an interstate agreement that allows nurses to practice in any of the participating compact states with one license. A resident of another NLC member state may first need to apply for a nursing license in that state before applying in Iowa. Nurses with a current multistate license in an NLC member state can apply for licensure by endorsement once they establish an Iowa residency. They typically need to supply a verification of their current or earlier license from their original state of licensure along with transcripts and background check documents. A temporary single state license to practice nursing in Iowa can be granted for 30 days to eligible applicants.

An Iowa nursing license can be renewed every three years. RNs and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) may need to complete 36 hours of continuing education to be eligible for license renewal, while APRNs usually need to maintain current certification.

What can I do with a degree in nursing in Iowa?

If you have suitable nursing qualifications and practical experience, you could pursue a variety of rewarding nursing careers in Iowa. A July 2019 report on nursing trends in Iowa, published by the Iowa Board of Nursing and the Iowa Center for Nursing Workforce, states that Iowa has fewer RNs with a baccalaureate degree or higher, and fewer students enrolled in an RN-BSN program compared to the national average. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the Iowa City metropolitan area among the top metropolitan areas in the country with the highest concentration of jobs for RNs.

Read on for an overview of nursing careers based on projected job growth, employment rates and nursing salaries in Iowa.

CareerTotal EmploymentStatewide Projected Job Growth Rate
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses5,9408.5%
Nurse Anesthetists32011.8%
Nurse MidwivesN/AN/A
Nurse Practitioners1,83032.9%
Nursing Assistants20,8909.2%
Registered Nurses33,77014.3%
2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

CareerAnnual Mean WageBottom 10% Annual WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses$42,820$33,650$51,530
Nurse Anesthetists$209,130$143,350>$208,000
Nurse MidwivesN/AN/AN/A
Nurse Practitioners$106,290$80,110$138,900
Nursing Assistants$29,120$22,330$37,430
Registered Nurses$59,130$43,610$77,870
2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Sources:

  • American Legion Auxiliary Department of Iowa, Education 2019-2020, on the Internet at https://iowaala.org/page/content/programs/education (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States, States, Counties, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth and Municipios: 2018 Population Estimates, Iowa, on the Internet at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018, Registered Nurses, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Coe College, Majors and Areas of Study, Nursing, on the Internet at https://www.coe.edu/academics/majors-areas-study/nursing (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Genesis Health Services Foundation, Genesis Health Services Foundation BSN Nursing Scholarship, on the Internet at https://www.genesishealth.com/giving/scholarships/scholarships/bsn-requirements/ (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Iowa Board of Nursing, Exam (NCLEX), Initial License by Examination, on the Internet at https://nursing.iowa.gov/licensure/exam-nclex (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Iowa Board of Nursing, Instructions for Licensure by Examination, on the Internet at https://nursing.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2019/07/exam_instructions_2019_06_26.pdf (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Iowa Board of Nursing, Endorsement - Licensure from Another State, on the Internet at https://nursing.iowa.gov/licensure/endorsement-licensure-another-state (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Iowa Board of Nursing, CE Basic Requirements, on the Internet at https://nursing.iowa.gov/continuing-education/continuing-ed-licensees/ce-basic-requirements (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Iowa Board of Nursing, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner - Role & Scope, on the Internet at https://nursing.iowa.gov/practice/advanced-registered-nurse-practitioner-role-scope (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Iowa Board of Nursing, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner - Role & Scope, on the Internet at https://nursing.iowa.gov/practice/advanced-registered-nurse-practitioner-role-scope (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Iowa Health Care Association, IHCA Foundation Scholarship Program, on the Internet at https://www.iowahealthcare.org/get-involved/foundation/ihca-foundation-scholarship-program/ (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Kirkwood Community College, Associate Degree Nursing (ADN), on the Internet at https://www.kirkwood.edu/site/index.php?d=1568 (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Luther College, The Nursing Major, on the Internet at https://www.luther.edu/nursing/major/ (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Mount Mercy University, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), on the Internet at https://www.mtmercy.edu/bachelor-science-nursing (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Mount Mercy University, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), on the Internet at https://www.mtmercy.edu/doctor-nursing-practice (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Mount Mercy University, Master of Science in Nursing, on the Internet at https://www.mtmercy.edu/master-science-nursing (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Mount Mercy University, RN-BSN Program, on the Internet at https://www.mtmercy.edu/rn-bsn-program (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • "Nursing Trends: Nursing Licensees and Nursing Education in Iowa" for academic years 2016 - 2018, released by the Iowa Board of Nursing and the Iowa Center for Nursing Workforce, on the Internet at https://nursing.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2019/07/2019_07_22_trends_in_nursing_report_2018_final.pdf (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • Projections Central - State Occupational Projections, Long Term, Occupational Projections (2016-2026), on the Internet at https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • St. Ambrose University, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Accelerated BSN Fact Sheet, on the Internet at https://www.sau.edu/nursing (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • St. Ambrose University, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, on the Internet at https://www.sau.edu/nursing (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • St. Ambrose University, Nursing, RN to BSN, on the Internet at https://www.sau.edu/nursing-rn-to-bsn (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • The Iowa Legislature, Iowa Administrative Code 655, Chapter 7, Section 7.1 Definitions, on the Internet at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/iac/rule/07-01-2009.655.7.1.pdf (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • The University of Iowa, General Catalog, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, B.S.N., on the Internet at http://catalog.registrar.uiowa.edu/nursing/nursing-bsn/#bachelorofscienceinnursingtext (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • The University of Iowa, General Catalog, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, B.S.N., RN-BSN for Registered Nurses, on the Internet at http://catalog.registrar.uiowa.edu/nursing/nursing-bsn/#rnbsnforregisterednursestext (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • The University of Iowa, General Catalog, Doctor of Nursing Practice, D.N.P., on the Internet at http://catalog.registrar.uiowa.edu/nursing/nursing-dnp/#requirementstext (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • The University of Iowa, General Catalog, Master of Science in Nursing, M.S.N., on the Internet at http://catalog.registrar.uiowa.edu/nursing/nursing-msn/#requirementstext (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • The University of Iowa, General Catalog, Nursing, Ph.D., on the Internet at http://catalog.registrar.uiowa.edu/nursing/nursing-phd/ (accessed on 30 October, 2019)
  • United States Census Bureau, Quick Facts, Iowa, on the Internet at https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/IA/AGE775218 (accessed on 30 October, 2019)

Nursing Schools