Link to Kirkwood Community College

1. What steps do I need to take in order to be accepted into the LPN/RN program?

In addition to the college's steps to becoming a Kirkwood student, the Nursing department requires students to do the following:

  • Complete pre-requisite courses and 75 hour Nurse Aide training. These courses are noted on both the Day Plan of Study and the Evening/Weekend Plan of Study
  • Complete the TEAS exam before registering for both HSC-191 Professional Roles I: Communication and Technology and HSC-195 Professional Roles II: Professional Identity and Engagement. The Cedar Rapids or Iowa City campus libraries have a  a TEAS V study guide available for your reference.

2. Is there a wait list for the lab/clinical portion of the program and how are the students selected each semester?

Currently, Kirkwood does not maintain a waitlist for the Nursing Program.   We have an admission process in place.  Each semester we accept 50 students to begin our LPN-RN program.  We accept 30 students to begin the evening-weekend LPN-RN program twice per year (no summer class).
On these dates, April 15, July 15 and November 15 of each year, we accept students to begin that following semester.  This means on April 15, we are accepting for Summer, July 15, for Fall and November 15, for Spring.  However, if we do not accept a full class on these dates we have to then select students once the current semester is over.  We can only accept students if all admission is complete, i.e… application, completion of COMPASS or ACT, attendance to conference, completion of TEAS exam and completion of all prerequisite courses.  We cannot accept students contingent upon completion of course work because of the strict grade policy in place.  This is the same with completion of CNA, we cannot accept students contingent upon completion of training, as students are required to complete state testing afterwards.

After completion of all admission criteria, please turn in your Admission Criteria Checklist (received at Nursing Program Conference) to 2172 Linn Hall.   You will be accepted according to your TEAS score.  If you do not fall within the top 25 scores, you will then be considered according to your original Kirkwood Nursing application date (the date you selected Nursing as your major).  

3. What is the Evening/Weekend ADN program?

Completion of 13 prerequisite courses, plus 75 hour Nurse Aid training is required for acceptance into this option.The evening/weekend program begins each fall and spring semester and includes the same curriculum as the day program. The classes are held in the evening and clinical rotations are held on the weekends.  The clinical portion will take five semesters to complete.

4. I am already an LPN, how long will it take me to complete the RN program?

  • Students who transfer to enter the second year of the program must first apply for the Associate Degree program. Go to to select Nursing as your major. 
  • Please have your LPN transcripts sent to Kirkwood Enrollment Services.
  • Students who transfer to enter the Associate Degree level will be required to submit a letter of reference regarding theory, clinical, and overall student conduct from the chair of the transferring institution. The letter should include the student’s eligibility to continue on to the AD level of the transferring institution. 
  • Completion of PSY-111 Intro to Psychology, PSY-121 Developmental Psychology, SPC-101 Fundamentals of Oral Communication, HSC-191 Professional Roles I and BIO-151 Nutrition is required.
  • Transfer students, and those LPNs who have graduated from nursing education greater than 1 year will be required to complete the LPN STEP Assessment and obtain a score of 66.4% for admission to the nursing program. Students who do not attain a score of 66.4% will meet with the Dean of Nursing.  To schedule an appointment with the dean, please call 319-398-5563.
  • Required GPA of 2.5 is required for admission.Students are accepted into the RN level courses on a space available basis.  
  • The Associate Degree portion of the program is 3 semesters in length. 
  • Students may select the ADN day or evening/weekend program. 
  • Students with an LPN entering into the ADN portion are not required to complete the TEAS exam.

5. When does the nursing program begin?

Day program students are accepted each semester, Fall, Spring and Summer. Each fall and spring, an evening/weekend program begins.

6. When do I begin the Certified Nurse Aide Training course?

Students may obtain a CNA through Kirkwood's Continuing Education Department.  Students must complete the state written and skills exams to be placed onto the state of Iowa registry.  Click here for more information regarding Nurse Aide Training at Kirkwood. 

7. What prerequisite courses are required before I can begin the LPN/RN program?

Day Program:
BIO-168 Human Anatomy and Physiology I (or take BIO-177 Human Anatomy)
BIO-173 Human Anatomy and Physiology II (or take BIO-180 Human Physiology) 
BIO-151 Nutrition
HSC-191 Professional Roles I
HSC-195 Professional Roles II

---------- Certified Nurse Aide requirement

Evening/Weekend Program:
BIO-168 Human Anatomy and Physiology I (or take BIO-177 Human Anatomy)
BIO-173 Human Anatomy and Physiology II (or take BIO-180 Human Physiology) 
BIO-151 Nutrition
HSC-191 Professional Roles I
HSC-195 Professional Roles II
---------- Certified Nurse Aide requirement
PSY-111 Intro to Psychology
PSY-121 Developmental Psychology
SPC-101 Fundamentals of Oral Communication
BIO-186 Microbiology
----------- Humanities Elective
SOC-110 Intro to Sociology
ENG-105 Compostition I

The day program requires a minimum grade of a C- in each prerequisite course, with the exception of HSC-191 Professional Roles I and HSC-195 Professional Roles II  which  requires a minimum grade of a B-. The evening/weekend program has the same grade requirements as the day program prerequisites, as all general education courses do not have a minimum grade requirement, a passing grade is required.

8. May I take the prerequisite courses at another college?

If you are interested in taking prerequisite courses at another college, please discuss this with the Nursing Program Department Coordinator to ensure equivalency.

9. What scores do I need on the placement test?

The COMPASS placement test covers reading, writing and math. Recommended scores are:  reading (82 or ACT 16, prepared for college level reading ) and writing (70 or ACT 15, placement into Composition I).
A required Compass Math pre-algebra score of 50 or ACT Math score of 18. If the required score is not met you may complete a course option (MAT-700 Basic Math or MAT-731 Intro to Math or a college level math course above MAT-062 Elementary Algebra).

10. What if I already have a two-year or 4-year degree? Do I still need to take the Compass or ACT placement test?

If you have not completed a college level math course, you would only need to take the Math portion of the Compass test and meet the required Compass Math pre-algebra score of 50.

11. What high school courses will help me prepare for the nursing program?

Algebra, Biology, English, Math, Psychology, and Computer Technology classes will help you prepare for the Nursing program. Kirkwood does offer a High School Health Academy program within the local school districts that will enable you to explore Nursing options before graduating from high school.  Contact your high school counselor for more information.

12. What classes can I take while I am waiting to begin the lab/clinical portion of the program?

When waiting to begin the day program you can enroll in Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Fundamentals of Oral Communication, Humanities elective, Microbiology, Composition I and Intro to Sociology. There are also additional courses provided through Kirkwood that can be completed toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

13. Will taking all the general education classes ahead of time shorten the length of the program?

This will not shorten the program, but it will lighten your credit load during the 5 semester program. Taking the general education courses ahead of time will mean you will not be a full-time student (obtaining 12 credit hours per semester) while completing the clinical portion of the program. If you have concerns regarding full time status, please contact the Department of Nursing to be advised on which classes to take in order to maintain full time status.

14. I have taken nursing courses at another school, how do those transfer into Kirkwood?

Your nursing and other general education courses will be evaluated by the Nursing Program Department Coordinator and Kirkwood Enrollment Services.

15. Do I need to buy a uniform?

A uniform is required of all students who are completing the clinical setting. Uniform fitting will be done during the Foundations of Nursing I program orientation.

16. Where are clinical courses held?

Clinical courses are held within the seven county area Kirkwood serves. A variety of long-term care facilities, home health agencies and hospitals are utilized. Travel is required and students are responsible for their own transportation. Some clinical sites include parking fees. Car-pooling is encouraged.

17. What are the compliance requirements for the clinical courses (go to Compliance Guide for more information?

a. Current health physical dated within the last year.

b.  Current CPR for Health Care Provider certification (Automated External Defibrillator training is not required but is recommended). Training available through Kirkwood Continuing Education Department .

c.  Immunization Requirements: Students must show official documentation in the form of a physician signature, clinic stamp, letterhead or state public health record of the following:
Hepatitis B: The hepatitis B three-part series is required of all health science students, EXCEPT HIT, unless there is a physician signed medical waiver or a positive blood titre. Dose 1 must be given prior to clinical participation; dose 2 is required 4 weeks after dose 1, dose 3 is required 5 months after dose 2.
MMR: Proof of two Rubeola (Measles) immunizations for those born during or after 1957; proof of one for those born prior to 1957; or a positive blood titre.
•Proof of two Mumps immunizations for those born during or after 1957; proof of one for those born prior to 1957; or a positive blood titre.
•Proof of one Rubella (German Measles) immunization for all students or a positive blood titre.• NOTE: IF YOU NEED TWO MMR’S PLEASE ALLOW FOR A MINIMUM OF 28 DAYS BETWEEN THE DOSES.٭The MMR is available in campus health for $50 – Cash or Check only.
Tetanus: TD: Tetanus and diptheria booster dose required every 10 years.
Tdap: Health care students younger than 65 are required to obtain a 1-time dose of Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The Tdap is required regardless of the interval since the last Td was given.  The Tdap vaccine is available in campus health for $45 – Cash or Check only.
Varicella: Verification of disease with physician’s signature, official documentation of 2 doses of the varicella vaccine or a positive blood titre. NOTE: IF YOU NEED TWO VARICELLA’S PLEASE ALLOW FOR A MINIMUM OF 28 DAYS BETWEEN THE DOSES.
Influenza: Fall /Winter only.

d. Two-step and/or Annual TB testing:
• An initial two-step test (two separate TB tests placed and read 1-3 weeks apart) is required prior to clinical participation. TB documentation must include; date placed, date read, and results with health care provider’s signature and credentials.
• After the initial two-step, an annual TB test will be required.
• Campus Health will place TB tests for $5 each. TB’s can be paid for with cash or check only. All TB tests administered at Kirkwood Campus Health must be read at Kirkwood Campus Health. TB tests must be read in 48-72 hours following placement. Failure to have TB test read within this time frame will result in having to have TB test repeated.
• Individuals who have a positive TB result must show proof of a negative chest x-ray within the past two years of the positive TB test; an annual questionnaire will be required in place of future TB tests.

e. Annual OSHA training

f. Proof of health insurance (For insurance requirements, please refer to Health Insurance Information.)

g.  Criminal Background check: Handled through Certified Background, This process will begin once you have been accepted and withing 30 days of your first day of your technical course. Further information will be given upon your acceptance into the clinical portion.

h. Completion of Mandatory Reporter Training and Hospital Orientation.


18. What if I have a felony conviction, will I be able to attend clinical, get a job or obtain a nursing license?

Once the criminal background checks are done, Nursing office staff submit the results of the background checks, along with clarified information from the student, to the Department of Human Services, who will make the decision on whether or not the student will be allowed to participate in clinical. Even if the student is cleared to participate in clinical, the Iowa Board of Nursing has the right to decline liscenser. Criminal background checks are repeated prior to taking the nursing licensure exam and are always done upon an offer of employment in any health care setting. Iowa Board of Nursing requires students to submit their legal paperwork prior to taking the licensure exam.

19. What are the requirements for the second year of the program?

A minimum B- grade in all LPN (1st year) clinical courses and a 2.5 GPA is required to advance to the RN (second year) clinical courses.  All prerequisite courses, 1st year LPN courses, Intro to Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Fundamentals of Oral Communication grades are combined and calculated.  This is automatically done for current Foundations of Nursing II students at the start of each semester. 

20. How is the 2.50 GPA calculated?
A 2.50 GPA is required prior to entering the third semester of the technical portion (Transitions, Specific Care).

These courses are taken into account when calculating student GPA: 

Human A & P I
Human A & P II
Professional Roles I
Professional Roles II
Intro to Psychology
Developmental Psychology
Fund. Of Oral Communication
Intro. to Pharmocology
Foundations of Nursing I
Foundations of Nursing II
Nrsg Care of Growing Family
We calculate the students grade value per course and times it by how many credits are involved. Total grade points are then divided by total course credit.
Now that we have a more strict grade policy in place, students seem to have less of a problem meeting the 2.50 GPA requirement.

21. What degree do I have when I graduate?

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree. After the second semester of the nursing program, students are eligible for a Practical Nurse Diploma and are eligible to complete the licensure exam.

22. Is it possible to have a part-time job while enrolled in the Nursing program?

The nursing curriculum is very intense and requires a lot of study time. Many students do work part-time while enrolled in the program. It is recommended that students plan to study 4-6 hours for every hour that is spent in class or clinical. For example, a 3 credit lecture class equals 12-18 hours of study per week.

23. Can I get a bachelor’s degree in nursing after the ADN program?

There are colleges and universities that offer a bachelors degree in nursing. Kirkwood’s ADN nursing program articulates with accredited four-year nursing programs in Iowa through a state-wide RN to BSN articulation agreement. The local programs include Allen College, Mount Mercy University, University of Iowa, and Upper Iowa University.  Your state license will remain as an RN; having a bachelor’s degree may offer additional advancement opportunities.

24. How are nurses licensed?

Graduates of a school of nursing must apply to the Iowa Board of Nursing and successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before they are licensed as a nurse in the state of Iowa. After successfully completing the Practical Nursing program, you are eligible take the LPN licensure exam (Licensed Practical Nurse). After successful completion of the ADN program, you are eligible to take the RN (Registered Nurse) licensure exam.

25. Where are nurses employed?

Nurses are employed in a variety of health care settings including home health, doctor’s offices, long-term care facilities, specialized clinics and hospitals. Nurses may also be employed by insurance companies, schools, public health departments and correctional facilities.

26. What is the job outlook for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses?

The job outlook for nursing is very good. It is estimated that 60% of actively licensed nurses in Iowa may be retired by 2009. This, in addition to the fact that Iowa has the highest number of elderly over the age of 85, will further impact the need for nurses. (Nursing Shortage Fact Sheet

27. What is the difference between a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), a Registered Nurse (RN) and Bachelor’s Degree Nurse (BSN)?


PN (Practical Nurse)

ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing)

BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)


Licensed Practical Nurse

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse


Long-term care


Physician offices

Same as LPN plus:

Home Health

Insurance Companies

Same as ADN



Possibility for advancement

Increased opportunities for advancement


Works under the supervision of an RN or Physician

Performs patient assessments

Same as ADN

Develops and manages Nursing Care Plans


Performs patient assessments

Performs patient assessments


Implements nursing interventions

Implements nursing interventions