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Differences Between Colleges of Nursing and Schools of Nursing

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When discussing nursing education, the terms “schools of Nursing” and “colleges of Nursing” are sometimes used interchangeably, causing confusion for new students seeking admission to study nursing.

In this post, I will clarify the major differences between these two entities to help aspiring nurses make informed decisions.

Firstly, a key distinction lies in the type of programs offered by each institution.

College of Nursing

If an institution is called a College of Nursing (especially in Nigeria), it is expected to provide training through National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Nursing.

Historically, nurse-producing institutions only offered basic nursing and midwifery programs, resulting in the award of registered nursing (RN) and registered midwifery (RM) respectively.

However, some schools have upgraded to colleges of nursing, offering ND/HND in Nursing.

For example, institutions like the School of Nursing, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos, and Nigerian Army College of Nursing & Midwifery, Yaba, are examples of colleges of Nursing that offer ND/HND in Nursing.

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Schools of Nursing

On the other hand, schools that continue to offer three-year nursing courses leading to the award of RM/RN remain classified as schools of Nursing.

Examples of such institutions include the School of Nursing, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, and School of Nursing, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria.

Another significant difference lies in the admission requirements.

Colleges of nursing typically require candidates to pass the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in addition to the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) or its equivalent.

In contrast, schools of Nursing mainly ask for SSCE results without the JAMB UTME requirement.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that the registered name or title of a school does not necessarily define its actual program.

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For instance, a school may be called a “college” but still offer basic nursing and award RN/RM qualifications.

On the other hand, an institution with “school” in its name might have upgraded to a college and now offers ND/HND in Nursing.

The duration of the programs also sets them apart. Basic nursing or basic midwifery in schools of Nursing remains a three-year program.

On the other hand, colleges of nursing may state two years for the first phase of the program (ND), followed by another two-year phase known as the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Nursing.

A important difference in the outcome is that graduates from colleges of Nursing are eligible for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program, just like their counterparts from polytechnics and universities.

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The four-year program in colleges qualifies graduates for NYSC upon completion.

In contrast, a school of nursing does not have the statutory capacity to produce graduates for NYSC as RN/RM qualifications are equivalent to a diploma and do not qualify for NYSC.

However, after obtaining an RN qualification, one can gain direct entry admission to a university for a degree in Nursing, and after an additional four years, become eligible for NYSC.

To summarize, colleges of nursing typically offer ND/HND in Nursing and require JAMB UTME for admission, while schools of Nursing mainly offer RN/RM programs and do not require JAMB UTME.

Graduates from colleges are eligible for NYSC, whereas RN/RM graduates from schools are not eligible, but they can pursue a degree and later become NYSC-eligible.

Understanding these differences will help aspiring nurses make the right choice for their nursing education journey.

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