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Interagency Collaborative on Nursing Statistics

Nurses, Nursing Education, and Nursing Workforce: Definitions *

B. Education-Related Terminology

  1.  Academic Health Center. As defined by the Association of Academic Health Centers, an academic health center is "an institution that consists of an allopathic or osteopathic medical school, at least one other health professions school or program and at least one affiliated or owned teaching hospital." The organization and structure of these institutions vary.  (Association of Academic Health Centers.)

  2. ​Academic Year. A designated period of time institutions use to measure a quantity of academic work to be accomplished by a student, or to define the period of time in which an academic year-based appointee renders services. Generally, an institution defines its own academic year, for example, from the beginning of the fall term through the end of the spring term.

  3. ​Accelerated Baccalaureate-to-Master’s Program. Admits students with baccalaureate nursing degrees and awards a master’s nursing degree. Curriculum is designed to be completed in less time than a traditional master’s program, usually through a combination of “bridge”/transition and core courses.

  4. Accelerated Nursing Program. A program designed to meet or accomplish programmatic objectives in a short time by building on previous learning experience. *

  5. ​Articulation Programs. A process through which two or more nursing programs cooperate to accommodate the learning needs and career goals of students, as they progress from one level of preparation to another, with minimal repetition and duplication of learning experiences.

  6. Associate Degree Nursing Program. A program of instruction that requires at least two years of FTE college academic work generally within a junior or community college, the completion of which results in an associate degree (e.g., AS, AA, AAS, ADN, etc.) with a major in nursing and eligibility to apply for licensure as an RN.

  7. Attrition Rate. The attrition rate is the percentage of students in a given cohort who do not progress from one point in the program (i.e., course, semester, level, level, and year) to the next point in the program (i.e. course, semester, level, and year) without interruption.

  8. ​Baccalaureate for Nonnursing College Graduates (2nd Degree). A program of instruction to prepare registered nurses that admits students with baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines and no previous nursing education and, at completion, awards a baccalaureate degree in nursing and eligibility to apply for licensure as an RN. The curriculum is designed to be completed in less time than the generic (entry-level) baccalaureate program usually through a combination of "bridge"/transition courses (American Association of Colleges of Nursing). (Other terms: accelerated nursing programs)

  9. Baccalaureate to Doctoral Program for RNs. Awards a PhD, DSN, DNS, DNSc or DNP. The program may include the receipt of a master's degree in nursing, but it is specifically designed to accomplish the programmatic objectives in less time than a traditional doctoral program. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing )

  10. Baccalaureate, Generic Nursing Program.  A program of instruction to prepare registered nurses that admits students with no previous nursing education, the completion of which results in a baccalaureate degree (e.g., BA, BS, BSN, etc.) with a major in nursing and eligibility to apply for licensure as an RN. The program requires at least four years but not more than five years of full time equivalent college academic work within an educational institution or university. (Other terms: basic nursing program, entry level nursing program.)

  11. Chief Executive Officer - Nursing Education Unit. The individual who has primary and ultimate responsibility for a nursing academic unit. This may be the Dean, Director, Department Head, Chairperson, or other institutionally-determined title.

  12. ​Clinical Nurse Leader Program. A graduate (master's level) nursing program in which a defined curriculum prepares graduates to oversee the care and coordination of a distinct group of patients and actively provide direct patient care in complex situations. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing)

  13. Clinical Nurse Specialist Program.  A graduate (masters or doctoral level) nursing program in which a defined curriculum includes theory, research, and clinical preparation for competency-based CNS specialty practice. Graduates are awarded a master's or doctoral degree in nursing and are eligible to sit for a national certification exam.

  14. ​Completion/Graduation Rate.  The completion graduation rate is the percentage of students in a particular cohort (e.g., all those admitted during a particular term who complete the Program).

  15. Continuing Education Program. An educational offering designed to help nurses maintain or expand their competence in their role. Such offerings may include workshops, institutes, self-study, clinical conferences, staff development courses, individual study, or other options. They do not include study for an academic degree or academic certificate (e.g., post-master's).

  16. ​Diploma Nursing Program. A program of instruction that requires two to three years of FTE coursework, usually within a hospital-based structural unit, the completion of which results in a diploma or certificate of completion and eligibility to apply for licensure as an RN.

  17. Distance Education Program.  A distance education program is a program where acquisition of knowledge and skills is accomplished through mediated information and instruction, encompassing all technologies and other forms of learning at a distance. (United States Distance Learning Association)

  18. Doctor of Education Program. A program of instruction within an educational institution or university that admits students with master's degrees and awards a doctor of education degree (EdD/PhD). The program prepares students to pursue intellectual inquiry regarding the science of education (i.e., teaching, learning, curriculum development, program evaluation, higher education issues, etc.) and conduct independent research for the purpose of extending knowledge about pedagogy. Typically, the program could require a minimum of 90 credits beyond the baccalaureate and a research dissertation.

  19. ​Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program.  A program of instruction that prepares graduates for the highest level of nursing practice beyond the initial preparation in the discipline. The doctor of nursing practice degree is the terminal practice degree. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing)

  20. ​Doctoral (Research-Focused) Program. A program of instruction that admits RNs with master's degrees in nursing and awards a doctoral degree. This program prepares students to pursue intellectual inquiry and conduct independent research for the purpose of extending knowledge. In the academic community, the PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy degree, is the most commonly offered research focused doctoral degree. However, some schools for a variety of reasons may award a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS or DNSc) as the research-focused doctoral degree. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing)

  21. ​Enrollments. The number of students who are officially recognized by a school or program as being enrolled in the nursing program, as of a given date. (Note: This includes first-time enrollments, transfer students and re-admitted students.)

  22. ​Faculty.  Those members of the instructional, administrative, or research staff of the nursing academic unit who are employed by the institution, may or may not hold academic rank, and carry faculty responsibility (e.g., teaching, advisement, committee work). Faculty may be tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure track (given that there is a tenure system in the institution).

  23. ​Generic Nursing Program.  A program of instruction to prepare registered nurses that is designed for students with no previous nursing education and eligibility to apply for licensure

  24. ​Graduations.  The total number of individuals who have completed and been graduated from a nursing program within a specified time period. (Other terms: Completions)

  25. Interdisciplinary Education.  An educational approach in which students from two or more disciplines collaborate in the learning process with the goal of fostering interprofessional interaction that enhances the practice of each discipline.

  26. ​LPN to Baccalaureate Program.  A program of instruction to prepare registered nurses that is specifically designed to admit individuals licensed as practical/vocational nurses and, at completion, awards a baccalaureate degree in nursing and eligibility to apply for licensure as an RN.

  27. LPN/VN to Associate Degree in Nursing Program.  A program of instruction to prepare registered nurses that is specifically designed to admit individuals licensed as practical/vocational nurses and, at completion, awards an associate degree in nursing and eligibility to apply for licensure as an LPN/VN.

  28. ​Master's for Nonnursing College Graduates (Generic [Entry-Level] or Second Degree) Program.  A program of instruction that admits students with baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines and no previous nursing education. The program prepares graduates for entry into the profession, eligibility to apply for licensure as an RN, and upon completion awards a master's degree (e.g., MSN, MS, MA, etc.) in nursing. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing)

  29. ​Master's Nursing Program.  A program of instruction that admits students with baccalaureate degrees in nursing and focuses on a specific area of study (functional or professional role) and the completion of which results in a master's degree (e.g., MSN, MS, MA, etc.) in nursing.

  30. Nurse Anesthesia Education Program.  A graduate or post-graduate program accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Programs (COA) with a defined curriculum and clinical practice component based on the art and science of anesthesia. The educational and clinical preparation focuses on the knowledge, judgment, and skills necessary to provide anesthesia care to the public. Graduates are awarded a graduate or post-graduate degree with the focus in anesthesia and are eligible to take the national certification examination administer by the Council on Certification for Nurse Anesthetists (CCNA).

  31. ​Nurse Practitioner Program.  A graduate-level preparation in which a defined curriculum includes theory, research, and clinical preparation for competency-based primary care or acute care practice. Graduates are awarded a nursing graduate degree and are eligible to sit for a national NP certification examination in a clinical area that matches the population focus of the educational program. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing and National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties)

  32. Nurse-Midwifery Education Program.  A post-baccalaureate certificate or graduate-level program accredited or pre-accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives Division of Accreditation in which a defined curriculum is based on a theoretical foundation in the health sciences as well as clinical preparation which focuses on the knowledge, judgment, and skills deemed necessary to provide primary care and independent management of women and newborns within a health care system, that provides for medical consultation, collaborative management, or referral as appropriate. Graduates are awarded a baccalaureate degree, a post-baccalaureate certificate, or a master's degree in nursing, public health or midwifery (depending on the type of program) and are eligible to sit for the national midwifery certification examination administered by the ACNM Certification Council, Inc. (American College of Nurse-Midwives)

  33. ​Postdoctoral Program in Nursing.  A program environment for multidisciplinary research training involving more than one unit of a university, and a recruitment plan that will attract the most highly qualified candidates from throughout the nation. Postdoctoral fellows must hold a doctoral degree in nursing and the nursing unit has the ability to demonstrate that graduates of the program remain active in research. (American Association of Colleges of Nursing)

  34. ​Post-Master's Certificate.  A formal, post-graduate program that admits RNs with master's degrees in nursing and, upon completion of a specialized area of study, awards either a certificate or other evidence of completion. (Note: This program is different from short term continuing education programs.)

  35. ​​Practical/Vocational Nursing Program.  A program of instruction that requires at least one year of FTE coursework generally within a high school, vocational/technical school or community /junior college setting, the completion of which results in a diploma or certificate of completion and eligibility to apply for licensure as an LPN/VN.

  36. Retention Rate.  The retention rate is the percentage of students in a given cohort who progress from one point in the program (i.e., course, semester, level, year) to the next point in the program (i.e., course, semester, level, year) without interruption.​

  37. ​RN-to-Baccalaureate External Nursing Degree Program.  Admits RNs with associate degrees or diplomas in nursing and awards a baccalaureate nursing degree by transcript evaluation or academically acceptable cognitive and performance examinations. This entire degree can be earned through examination; however, students can combine college coursework and examination.

  38. RN-to-Baccalaureate in Nursing (RN Baccalaureate, RN Completion) Program.  Admits RNs with associate degrees or diplomas in nursing and awards a baccalaureate nursing degree.

  39. ​RN-to-Master’s Program.  Admits RNs without baccalaureate degrees in nursing and awards a master’s degree in nursing.

  40. ​Tenure.  A system designed to protect faculty members' academic freedom and to provide enough financial security to attract able individuals to the profession. It is an affirmative commitment by an institution to a faculty member, generally offered after a probationary period of employment, as a right to continuing employment.