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Consider a new career in healthcare where helping others is the top priority.

In assisted living facilities, hospitals, and doctor’s offices, vocational nurses are on the front lines of patient care. They help with intake, take vital signs, give medications, collect samples, and ensure that the people under their care are comfortable. In short, they provide the best care they can during difficult times, and often get the chance to form real relationships with their patients. As our healthcare system grows and changes, these important roles are increasingly in-demand. If you have had experience caring for a loved one, or simply understand the impact that one person can make in others’ lives, there is no better time to enter this growing field. Vocational nursing hours can also vary greatly, providing possible flexibility for those with family or other commitments.

The Vocational Nurse Diploma program at Vista College provides hands-on career training that gets you Day 1 Ready to seek out a new job—mentally and emotionally. In under 15 months*, you’ll study anatomy and medical terminology, so you can speak the language. You’ll get an introduction to pharmacology, and concentrated training in the daily expectations of the role. This COE-accredited diploma program includes extensive externships, so you’ll graduate with real-world experience under your belt. We also prepare you for the NCLEX-PN certification exam. Once certified, you can seek employment in a number of settings:

  • Long-term care facilities
  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Home health or private nursing

Our vocational nurse program goes beyond basic instruction. Our externships give you valuable work experience in a nursing job setting. Our personalized career services focus on all aspects of career readiness, from finding the right jobs to resume building to interview prep—help and support you won’t find at most vocational nursing programs. If you are ready for the challenge, we’ll give you all the right tools.

*Based on successful, full-time enrollment

What You’ll Learn

Learn pharmacology, anatomy, and terminology. Get familiar with nursing for older adults, and for parents and children. Apply lessons in externships, so you’ll understand the real pressures and rewards of the workplace. We’ll also prepare you for NCLEX-PN certification exams, which are required by many workplaces.

Fast Facts

Next Start Date
October 12

Course Length: 15 months *
Class Hours:
Lab Hours:
Clinical Hours:

* Based on successful, full time enrollment

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Graduates of our Vocational Nurse Diploma program may seek employment in nursing facilities, hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. Many vocational nurses continue to advance their careers by working toward additional nursing degrees.

Potential Job Titles: Licensed Vocational Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse

Why Vista College?

The Right Skills for Real Jobs

Vista College designs its healthcare programs around the real skills that employers seek, getting you Day 1 Ready for jobs that are hiring today.

Vocational Nursing Outcomes

Vocational Nursing Student Handbook

Course #Course TitleCredits
VN120Introduction to Vocational Nursing 4.5
VN124Anatomy and Physiology 4.5
VN128Health Assessment 4.5
VN130Nursing Terminology and Mathematics 3
VN148The Older Adult 3
VN160Pathophysiology 3
VN164Medical Surgical Nursing 12
VN168Pharmacology I 3
VN220Mental Health Nursing 4.5
VN224Advanced Medical Surgical Nursing 10.5
VN228Pharmacology II 3
VN240Parent Child Nursing 4.5
VN244Vocational Nursing Capstone 12

Introduction to Vocational Nursing


This course introduces students to the history and role of the Vocational nurse within the healthcare industry. Applying principles of professionalism, critical thinking, and the clinical problem-solving process, the student will explore concepts related to patient safety, communication, collaborative nursing practice, legal and ethical principles, technology, quality improvement, and the relationship of evidence to practice. The course emphasizes the Vocational nurses’ legal scope of practice.

4.5 credits
45 theory hours

Anatomy and Physiology


This course provides the Vocational nursing student with basic knowledge of the normal structure and function of the human body. Topics include an introduction to anatomy and physiology, basic chemistry concepts, cell and tissue structure and function, and the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems.

4.5 credits
45 theory hours

Health Assessment


This course focuses on the development of interviewing and physical assessment skills necessary to complete and document comprehensive and focused physical, psychosocial, and spiritual patient assessment. Students will learn an evidence-based, systematic approach to collecting and analyzing patient data as a basis for planning and engaging in collaborative care. Laboratory experiences will be utilized to integrate theory and skill mastery at the level essential for the Vocational nurse.

4.5 credits
15 theory hours
60 lab hours

Nursing Terminology and Mathematics


This course introduces essential concepts of nursing terminology and mathematics. Students will employ a systematic, word-building approach to master the complex terminology used with the healthcare field. This part of the course allows students to learn medical terms, accurate pronunciations, definitions, and spelling. In the second part of the course, students use a systematic approach to master the complex calculations necessary for the safe administration of medications. Dimensional analysis is used to calculate medication dosages for pediatric and adult oral, powdered, topical, parenteral, and intravenous medications, including weight-based medications.

3 credits
30 theory hours

The Older Adult


Improvements in healthcare have allowed people to live to older ages than ever before in history. An aging society makes it imperative for nurses to understand the processes of aging and the comprehensive health needs of older adults. This course emphasizes a holistic approach to the understanding and care of older adults. Global concepts related to aging are covered with an emphasis on health and wellness. The role of the nurse and inter-professional healthcare team in managing special healthcare issues of older adults and their families is discussed. Students will have the opportunity to interview healthy older adults and reflect on their views related to again.

3 credits
30 theory hours



This course introduces the student to pathophysiological concepts and their effects on body systems. Building on principles of anatomy and physiology, the student will explore deviations from normal body structure and function due to disease and health problems across the lifespan. Primary concepts include disease etiology, pathology, clinical manifestations, and common diagnostic results. Ethnic and gender variations in disease incidence will also be addressed.

3 credits
30 theory hours

Medical Surgical Nursing


This course focuses on the beginning knowledge and skills necessary for Vocational nursing practice. The clinical problem-solving process is a primary focus of the course and provides the structure for the understanding of healthcare needs and nursing intervention. Concepts related to patient and staff safety, quality of care, inter-professional collaboration, and evidence-based practice are emphasized throughout the course. Laboratory and clinical experiences in patient care environments allow students to demonstrate the use of the clinical problem-solving process to provide culturally-sensitive, patient-centered care.

12 credits
45 theory hours
60 lab hours
135 externship hours

Pharmacology I


This course introduces students to basic principles of pharmacology. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications used to manage common acute and chronic health problems will be discussed from a nursing perspective. The course will focus on the practical nurse’s role in the safe administration of medications. Topics include drug action and interaction, indications and contraindications, routes of administration, safe dose ranges, therapeutic and adverse reactions, and drug use in special populations across the lifespan. Special emphasis is on the role of the nurse in patient teaching. Medication calculation will be reviewed.

3 credits
30 theory hours

Mental Health Nursing


This course provides students with an overview of theories and concepts related to the care of patients across the lifespan with select psychiatric and behavioral issues, with a particular emphasis on mental health issues of the older adult. The importance of an inter-professional team approach to treatment is emphasized as is the continuum of care across behavioral health settings. Students will use the clinical problem-solving process, therapeutic communication, and evidence-based approaches to care with patients in acute or community-based settings.

4.5 credits
30 theory hours
45 externship hours

Advanced Medical Surgical Nursing


This course builds on previously acquired knowledge and focuses on the care of patients with acute health problems and multiple comorbidities. Clinical decision making, inter-professional collaboration, and care management are emphasized throughout the course as is the relationship of evidence to practice. Laboratory skill experiences allow students to learn and practice advanced nursing skills. Clinical practice in patient care environments allows students to apply acquired content knowledge in the care of multiple patients and to demonstrate skills at increasing levels of complexity.

10.5 credits
45 theory hours
30 lab hours
135 externship hours

Pharmacology II


This course focuses on medications used by Vocational nurses in the care of patients with acute health problems. The Vocational nurses’ role in the safe administrations of medications will be emphasized. Topics include drug action and interaction, indications and contraindications, routes of administration, safe dose ranges, therapeutic and adverse reactions, and drug use in special populations. Special emphasis is on the role of the nurse in patient teaching. Medication calculation will be reviewed. Lifespan differences and complementary alternative therapies are also discussed and evaluated.

3 credits
30 theory hours

Parent Child Nursing


This course introduces the student to current trends in family-centered nursing through a holistic approach to theories and concepts related to the health and illness needs of the childbearing family with focus on the obstetric, newborn, and pediatric patient. The course will emphasize normal growth and development, safety and injury prevention, and the impact of culture on the family unit’s response to psychological and physical stressors. Clinical experiences support application of didactic content to antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum, and child health.

4.5 credits
45 theory hours

Vocational Nursing Capstone


This course provides senior nursing students the opportunity to develop increasing levels of autonomy in managing care for several patient through the integration of knowledge and skills learned throughout the curriculum. Clinical experiences allow the application of essential content and skills acquired throughout the program to the care of multiple complex care patients. The course will facilitate the student’s transition into the role of an entry level Vocational nurse. Emphasis is placed on principles of care management including clinical decision making, priority setting, patient safety, quality management, collaboration, delegation, and time management.

12 credits
45 theory hours
30 lab hours
180 externship hours

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