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High School Information

Nursing Careers

The Direct Care Worker Advisory Council advises the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) on the regulation and certification of direct care workers. The group also develops recommendations on certification, education and training, standardization requirements for supervision, and functions for direct care workers. Like the Task Force, the Advisory Council has very broad representation. It is made up of representatives of direct care workers, consumers of direct care services, educators of direct care workers, other health professionals, employers of direct care workers, and appropriate state agencies. A career in nursing provides opportunities to care for people of all ages in a variety of settings. The men and women who select the nursing profession practice in hospitals, clinics, offices, schools, clients’ homes, workplaces, long-term care facilities and many other settings. Many nurses practice as health team members with physicians and other caregivers. Nursing care is provided to acutely and chronically ill patients and their families, and frequently involves health education and health promotion for clients from birth to death.

Historically, hospitals served as the primary setting for the delivery of health care services. This trend has reversed in an effort to provide affordable and accessible health care to all Iowans. Patients are discharged from hospitals earlier and many require nursing care in their homes. This has increased nursing opportunities in community settings. Many nurses continue their education and pursue advanced preparation as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives.

Nursing requires a broad based general education and clinical experience. Students take college level courses in the liberal arts, natural sciences, humanities and behavioral sciences. These courses serve as the foundation for clinical practice. Nursing courses emphasize critical thinking, technical skill, and commitment to providing nursing care that encompasses health promotion, illness prevention and rehabilitation.

Programs Preparing Registered Nurses

Baccalaureate programs are provided by colleges and universities that grant a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Nursing theory and practice build upon a liberal arts foundation. Graduates are prepared to be leaders and assume responsibility for care of individuals, families and groups in a variety of settings. Nursing research is introduced. Baccalaureate graduates are prepared to pursue graduate study leading to advanced practice certification and clinical specialization.

Associate degree programs are provided by community colleges that grant an Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing. The program of study may be completed in two years and includes nursing theory, practice and supporting courses. Graduates are prepared to practice as members of the health team by providing care to individuals and families in a variety of settings. Associate degree graduates may articulate to baccalaureate and masters nursing programs.

Programs Preparing Licensed Practical Nurses

Practical nursing programs are provided by community colleges that grant a diploma or certificate in practical nursing. The course of study may be completed in one year and includes nursing theory, practice and supporting courses. Graduates are prepared to practice as members of the health team by providing care to individuals under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. Practical nurse graduates may articulate to registered nursing programs.

Contacting the Nursing Programs

Information about nursing education may be obtained by contacting the programs approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing. A list of programs approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing may be accessed on-line at www.state.ia.us/nursing. Scroll down the first page and link to “Nursing Education.” Click on the preferred type of program. The page is directly linked to the nursing programs. For information about licensure as an RN of LPN in Iowa, please contact:

  • Iowa Board of Nursing
    RiverPoint Business Park
    400 S.W. 8th Street, Suite B
    Des Moines, IA 50309-4685
  • Telephone: (515) 281-3255
    FAX: (515) 281-4825
    Web: www.state.ia.us/nursing

Contact Information

Iowa Health Workforce Center
Iowa Dept of Public Health
321 East 12th St., 4th fl. Lucas Bldg
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 954-5674
FAX (515) 242-6384