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West Penn Hospital School of Nursing

Accepting Applications for Enrollment in August 2014!

School of Nursing

Highlights of our 22-month RN diploma program:

Prospective students:

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Alumni page; request a Transcript

News from the School

School History
Contact / Visiting Information
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West Penn School of NursingCost of Attendance
Click on this link for the Net Price Calculator to estimate your cost to attend the first year at  West Penn Hospital School of Nursing.  Figures are based on the most recent data available.

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West Penn Hospital was first in the region to achieve

Magnet Recognition

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


West Penn Hospital’s 2-Year Diploma RN Advantages

The following chart may help you decide if a 2-year RN diploma program such as West Penn Hospital School of Nursing (WPHSON) is for you compared to a 4-year BSN-RN program.

Note:  2-Year RN diploma graduates and 4-year BSN program graduates take the same National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) - required to enter practice.

Characteristic WPHSON
2-Year RN (Diploma) Program
4-Year RN (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.< br/> 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 daycare
  • on-site college/university
  • on-site dorm rooms


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Contact us

West Penn Hospital School of Nursing
4900 Friendship Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Telephone: 412.578.5538
Toll-free: 1.877.33NURSE

Facsimile: 412.578.1837

Email: sonadmissions@wpahs.org


Visit us

West Penn Hospital School of Nursing is located across South Millvale Avenue from the main entrance to West Penn Hospital.


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:

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