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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Iowa

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/10/2023

Several colleges in Iowa offer online nursing degrees, and the flexibility of classes has allowed these programs to grow in popularity. Students in Iowa can choose from many accredited colleges offering online nursing programs and at every degree level, from an associate in nursing to a master's in nursing.

Our 2023 list includes colleges in Iowa that offer online nursing programs and have available NCLEX data, so you can easily determine which program results in graduates with the best pass rate.

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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Iowa

School NCLEX Pass Rate Online Enrollment
Morningside College 94.12% 1,140
Northwestern College - IA 94.12% 467
Mount Mercy University 91.14% 306
University of Iowa 90.6% 3,393
Iowa Wesleyan University 85.71% 127
Saint Ambrose University 71.01% 163
Mercy College of Health Sciences 68.59% 182
Briar Cliff University 66.67% 230
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Becoming a Nurse in Iowa

Job growth among healthcare occupations, including nursing, is projected to continue at a higher than average rate amid a shortage of healthcare professionals in the U.S. This shortage is particularly acute in Iowa, where the state's legislature has recognized it as a public health issue. 

Attending a nursing school in Iowa gives students a strong platform on which to build a solid nursing career and set themselves up to play a critical role in helping address the shortage in care. The Iowa Board of Nursing is the regulatory body responsible for controlling all levels of nursing licensure in the state. 

Learn about how to become a nurse in Iowa below, including information about licensure for the following types of nurses: certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), and advanced registered nurse practitioner (APRN). 

To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below:

Nursing Degrees by State

How To Get CNA Certification in Iowa

To work as a CNA, candidates must register on the Direct Care Worker CNA registry maintained by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. To become certified, applicants must complete a state-approved training program and then pass two different evaluations for competency. One exam tests a candidate's knowledge and the other tests their practical skills. CNAs undergo multiple background checks during the application process, including criminal histories and abuse registries.

Training programs to obtain an Iowa CNA license require at least 75 hours, 30 of which must be in clinical work. Examples of clinical work relevant to the CNA license include the following:

  •  First aid, CPR, and AED
  • Infectious disease control
  • Learning how to take and record patient vital signs
  • Workplace safety and protocol
  • Patient care and bedside manner
  • Range of motion exercises to accommodate patients who require rehabilitation
  • Communication skills, teamwork, and team building

CNA Certification Renewal

In order to stay on the Iowa CNA registry, applicants must perform nursing-related duties for at least one eight-hour workday during each two-year period. Applicants who do not meet this requirement must complete the certificate application process again. 

How To Get an LPN License in Iowa

To obtain an Iowa LPN license, applicants must complete a state-approved nursing program. Afterward, LPN applicants must also complete the following:

  • Furnish an official transcript from the nursing program to the Iowa Board of Nursing detailing all the relevant clinical coursework.

  • Request fingerprint cards from the board, which must be mailed in the same envelope as the rest of the application.

  • Take the National Council Licensure Examination for practical nursing (NCLEX-PN). Applicants should apply for the exam through Pearson Vue.

Applicants can take additional coursework if they want to be authorized to supervise other nurses or perform intravenous therapy. LPNs who are employed as supervisors at long-term care facilities are expected to complete a board-approved course within six months of obtaining an LPN license.

How To Get an RN License in Iowa

Applicants for an Iowa RN license must have proof of graduation from an approved nursing program in Iowa, which can be an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Below are the steps for the RN application process:

  • Furnish an official transcript from the nursing program to the Iowa Board of Nursing detailing all the relevant clinical coursework proving competency for the RN licensure.

  • Request fingerprint cards from the board, which must be mailed in the same envelope as the rest of the application.

  • Take the NCLEX-RN. Applicants should apply for the exam through Pearson Vue.

How To Get an APRN/ARNP License in Iowa

In Iowa, an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) is referred to as an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP). 

To get an Iowa ARNP license, applicants must have completed a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Applicants must also have a valid RN license and a nursing certification in one of the following specialties:

The ARNP application process includes the following steps:

  • Fill out an application through the Iowa Board of Nursing. If an applicant cannot complete the application online, they must call the board and request a paper application.

  • Pay a nonrefundable fee.

  • Furnish a copy of an active RN license.

  • Furnish a copy of any details that may arise during a criminal background check.

  • Provide a hard copy of official transcripts from an accredited master's level (or higher) nursing program.

In Iowa, ARNPs are also eligible to apply for prescriptive authority for Schedule II-V controlled substances.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Iowa

How Many Nursing Schools Are in Iowa?

There are over 30 nursing schools in Iowa to choose from, including schools that offer ADNs and BSNs. When choosing a nursing program, you should look for accredited schools with a track record of student success. An online RN program in Iowa may be a good fit for students looking to balance school with work and family responsibilities.

Is Iowa Good for Nurses?

According to Wallethub, Iowa is the 11th best state for nurses in the country. If you're looking to pursue a nursing career in Iowa, you can look forward to competitive salaries. But keep in mind that Iowa's nurse shortage may lead to difficult working conditions as employers ask nurses to care for more patients than before.

How Do I Become an RN in Iowa?

There are several steps you'll need to take in order to become an RN in Iowa. These include completing an ADN or BSN, completing the NCLEX-RN, and submitting an application for licensure.

How Long Does It Take To Become an RN in Iowa?

Students who choose to pursue an associate degree may complete the program and pass the required exam in as little as two years. Students who want to obtain a bachelor's degree or  higher may take four or more years.

Students looking to change careers may also pursue related work as a nutritionist, physical therapist, or lab technician, to name a few options.

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