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West Penn Hospital School of Nursing

West Penn Hospital School of Nursing

Currently accepting application for Fall 2019
Application Deadline is April 1, 2019

Next Information Session: Saturday September 15, 2018 at 9:00 am

Highlights of our 22-month RN Diploma program:

Prospective students:


Find jobs at WPH School of Nursing

School History

West Penn School of Nursing


Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

  NLN member logo

West Penn Hospital was the first in western Pennsylvania to achieve

Magnet Recognition

from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) (2006) and the first redesignated (2012).

Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing's U.S. Department of Education-required Gainful Employment Disclosure statement


West Penn Hospital’s 2-Year Diploma RN Advantages

The following chart compares 2 paths to RN licensure:  2-year (RN Diploma) programs such as West Penn Hospital School of Nursing (WPHSON) and 4-year (BSN) programs.

Note: 2-Year RN Diploma graduates and 4-year BSN graduates take the same Registered Nurse licensing exam (NCLEX-RN) required to enter practice.

Characteristic  WPHSON
2-Year (RN Diploma) Program
4-Year (BSN) Programs
Quick introduction to direct patient care

By about the 4th week into our program, you will begin to interact with patients. By the end of our first 10-week term you will know not only how to talk with patients to obtain a health history but also how to:

  • perform a basic nursing physical exam
  • perform skills such as taking vital signs, bathing, and doing blood sugar testing

In most 4-year programs you begin to interact with patients in the 3rd year.

Some programs are beginning to place initial experiences within the end of the 2nd year.

Confirmation of your decision about a nursing career With an earlier clinical/ hospital experience, you can more quickly determine if nursing is your preferred career. You might not be able to determine if you prefer nursing until well into the curriculum of a BSN program.
More clinical/hospital hands-on experiences

Our diploma program will give you a greater number of clinical/ hospital hours and a larger number of hands-on experiences before you graduate. Simulation experiences are used to enhance learning but do not substitute for hospital clinical experiences. Actual hospital clinical experiences far outweigh simulation within the program.

4-year nursing programs may offer fewer clinical/ hospital hours compared to a 2-year program. A shift to simulation lab and community-based clinical experiences is occurring in some BSN programs, resulting in less hospital experience being offered.

Less expense

Our 22-month RN diploma program will cost less than a 4-year nursing program. Federal and state funding is available.

4-year (BSN) nursing programs are more expensive due to their increased program length.

More one-on-one contact;  smaller school Our small-school atmosphere allows for more one-on-one contact with nursing instructors. Being a smaller school, we offer a more student-supportive environment. College/university nursing professors may have insufficient time to address individual student needs.
Nursing instructors on clinical Our RN nursing instructors are present with you during the clinical /hospital experiences; they remain on the clinical / hospital nursing units. Exceptions to this are the precepting experiences in the Community and Management nursing courses in the senior year, when students are learning to become more independent. 4-year nursing programs may have more clinical/ community-based RN preceptors as clinical instructors. College/ university nursing professors are not generally required to be on-site with students at all times during the clinical experiences.
Knowing your classmates Since our nursing classes are smaller in size, a camaraderie develops among the students; they become an internal support system. In a 4-year program in a college/university setting, you might have difficulty becoming familiar with the members of the nursing class.
Diversity in clinical/ hospital experiences Diverse clinical/hospital experiences are arranged to cover a variety of nursing specialties, including:
  • Emergency Room
  • Operating Room
  • Neonatal Intensive Care
  • Home Health
  • School Nursing
  • and other basic nursing specialties such as Medical-Surgical, OB, and Pediatrics
4-year nursing programs often do not offer the diversity of clinical experiences found in diploma/ hospital-based programs. Some clinical/ hospital experiences (for example, Operating Room) may not be included in a 4-year nursing program.
Earn your RN faster

You can graduate within 2 years and enter the workforce with your RN once you pass the licensure exam. As a working RN, your employer may help you pay for earning higher nursing degrees.

A BSN student must complete all 4 years to be eligible to take the RN licensure exam and enter the workforce.

Faster entry into workforce

Upon graduation you can enter a nursing job in the specialty of your choice. Advanced degrees in nursing may not be necessary for bedside specialties like Pediatrics, Operating Room, Intensive Care Unit, etc., depending on the specific facility's hiring policies.

A BSN is needed for certain nursing jobs in some hospitals/ healthcare facilities, for example, becoming a nursing unit manager.
Continuing education You can build on the RN Diploma by earning a BSN and higher degrees. Usually you would need only 2 more years to complete the 4-year BSN degree. An associate degree is not needed to enter a BSN program - the RN is. An MSN is needed to become a nurse practitioner (family, pediatric, etc.), a nurse educator, a nurse administrator, a nurse midwife, and a nurse anesthetist. There are fast-track RN-to-MSN programs available.
Salary The earnings of a 2-year RN graduate will probably differ from those of a 4-year graduate by a couple of thousand dollars a year. Some institutions pay a BSN graduate slightly more than a 2-year RN graduate.
Special to WPHSON

Unique to WPHSON’s 2-year program are

  • on-site college/university
  • on-site dorm rooms


School History

School history photoWest Penn Hospital's School of Nursing, founded in 1892, was the first nursing school in the nation to admit male students and one of the first to receive accreditation from the National League for Nursing.

On Dec. 7, 2006, West Penn Hospital became the first hospital in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania to achieve Magnet™ Recognition Status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In 2012, West Penn Hospital was first in the region to achieved its second Magnet® designation for nursing excellence.

Learn more about West Penn Hospital School of Nursing: