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Welcome to Nursing

The Nursing Program at Skagit Valley College prepares students for a lifelong career in nursing practice.  Nursing is one of the most diverse and exciting careers in today's health care field.  It provides unlimited opportunities and intangible benefits for those who enter the profession.  Nursing is a career for those interested in a challenge, as well as those who seek the reward of caring for others. 

Nursing is the largest health care profession, nationally, regionally and locally. Washington's Employment Security Department indicates that nursing is an "in demand" occupation with "bright" employment opportunities throughout the state. In Washington State job growth is predicted to be faster than average – in the 20-28% range (2010-2020) for all areas of nursing.

Nurses are employed in a variety of settings including hospitals, extended care centers, home health care agencies, physicians' offices, mental health facilities, and corrections. New technologies are continually developing in the health care field, offering exciting and challenging career opportunities.

Nursing is a demanding, rewarding profession that requires strong communication skills, excellent problem-solving abilities, focused concentration when performing a task, attention to detail, the ability to work well with others, and extensive knowledge of the sciences.

Graduating Prepared Nurse Leaders

The purpose of the SVC nursing program is to assist in meeting the needs of the community by preparing graduates for entry-level practice in a variety of health care settings. The nursing program in design and implementation supports a career ladder approach to education and training, thus providing students with an opportunity to seek gainful employment at three levels. Based on their education goals, students can choose several entry point options. A student could begin their career in nursing as a Nursing Assistant and with additional education/training and work experience, advance through the LPN and RN rungs of the career ladder.  A nurse currently employed as an LPN, may choose to advance their career options by enrolling in the LPN to RN training program. As students progress from simple to complex concepts, our primary program goal is to prepare them to become safe and responsible beginning practitioners. To learn more about our program mission and philosophy:

Nursing Curriculum

The curriculum includes a strong foundation in communication, biological and social sciences, general education and nursing courses. Students integrate theory and practice throughout the nursing program by combining their classroom work with skills laboratory and clinical experiences. The integration model provides students with a solid foundation of knowledge and experience. The learning environment encourages students to develop a systematic approach to problem solving and acquire the knowledge and skill to meet the health needs of the individual, the family and the community during health and/or illness.  The nursing programs offer a multi-dimensional series of experiences.  Application occurs in campus laboratories, simulation laboratories, classroom settings, acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community health care settings. During their education, students will log more than 700 clinical hours and thousands of hours in the practice and simulation lab preparing them for a successful career in nursing.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of all Nursing programs at SVC Will...
  • Qualify for employment in a variety of healthcare settings.
  • Communicate effectively with a wide variety of patients from different age groups and cultures.
  • Demonstrate appropriate and effective communication to include verbal and non-verbal expression.
  • Provide patient centered care and perform nursing skills in a safe, competent and therapeutic manner.
  • Perform within the ethical and legal boundaries of the scope of practice.
  • Display professionalism in their appearance, job performance, and ability to work as team members within the various settings of healthcare delivery.
  • Demonstrate accountability and integrity while utilizing legal standards and ethical values that govern professional nursing practice.

Program Options

The estimated program length is based on full-time enrollment (unless otherwise noted).  It is the student's responsibility to discuss sequencing and work out their individual schedule with a counselor or program advisor. Any developmental, prerequisite, or general education courses a student is required to complete will add additional quarters toward program completion.

Degrees / Certificates Nursing Credits Prerequisite Credits Estimated Program Length Admission Campus Location
RN, ATA Degree 72 46 6 – 9 quarters Fall/Spring Quarters Only Mount Vernon
LPN to RN, ATA Degree - PT 42 40 – 42 6 – 9 quarters Fall Quarter Only Whidbey Island
PN Certificate - FT 50 16 4 – 5 quarters Fall Quarter Only Whidbey Island
PN Certificate - PT 50 16 7 quarters Fall Quarter Only
(Every Other Year)
Whidbey Island
NA Certificate 6 0 1 quarter All Quarters Mount Vernon
Whidbey Island

Registered Nursing Associate of Technical Arts Degree

The Registered Nursing ATA Degree prepares students who are highly educated, technically advanced, competent and caring individuals to practice professional nursing in a variety of settings and participate in lifelong learning. In addition, it may prepare students interested in pursuing a degree at the baccalaureate level.  The full-time program requires attendance in daytime lecture and lab classes, and both daytime and evening clinicals.  Graduates of the program are eligible to take the examination for licensure as a registered nurse (NCLEX-RN). To learn more about the work life of an RN, read more…

RN Program Agreement with UW

Skagit Valley College has an agreement with the University of Washington Nursing Program-Bothell that allows the SVC graduate to transition into a Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree program after completion of the Associate Degree Nursing program at SVC. If interested, please contact an advisor at University of Washington Bothell. Students should also indicate interest in this program to a SVC pre-nursing counselor.

Practical Nursing to Registered Nursing (LPN to RN) ATA Degree

SVC offers a program for nurses who have graduated from a PN program and have a current Washington State LPN license. The LPN to RN ATA Degree program is part-time, focusing on the second year of the Associate Degree in Registered Nursing. Students complete the same RN program prerequisites, related education courses, and 6 quarters of nursing courses required for the ATA degree. The program was designed to create a pathway for PN graduates to move into high-wage, high-demand career opportunities in healthcare. Graduates of this program receive an Associate Degree in Registered Nursing and are eligible to apply for the State Licensing Examination (NCLEX-RN) for Registered Nursing.

Practical Nursing Certificate

The Practical Nursing Certificate program prepares students for employment as Practical Nurses in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, home healthcare agencies, schools and doctor's offices. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the licensing examination to become licensed practical nurses (NCLEX-PN).  There are two PN program enrollment options available to students: full-time, or part-time/evenings and weekends.  To learn more about the work life of an LPN, read more…

Nursing Assistant Certificate

The Nursing Assistant Certificate program prepares students for employment as Nursing Assistants in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare agencies. Additionally, this program prepares students for continuation on into practical or registered nurse programs. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the Washington State competency examination to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. This is a Washington State approved, one quarter course offered evenings, requiring 35 hours of classroom instruction and 50 hours of clinical experience.  Students must attend all scheduled classes and clinical experiences to meet State certification requirements.  To learn more about the work life of a NA, read more…

Campus Options

The Nursing programs at SVC are divided between two campus locations:  Mount Vernon Campus and Whidbey Island Campus (located in Oak Harbor).  To learn more about the campus options, please see CONTACT US information.

Mount Vernon Campus offers:
  • Registerd Nurse
  • Nursing Assistant
Whidbey Island Campus offers:
  • LPN to RN (second year Associates Degree in Nursing) – part-time
  • Practical Nurse – full-time
  • Practical Nurse – part-time evenings
  • Nursing Assistant

Program Accreditation and Approval

Skagit Valley College's Practical Nursing program is approved by the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission.

Washington State Department of Health Logo
WA State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (WS-NCQAC)
WA State Department of Health - NCQAC
Mailing Address:  PO Box 47864 (Olympia, WA  98504-7877)
Physical Address:  111 Israel Road S.E.
Tumwater, WA;
Phone: (360) 236-4700 (call center)
Fax: (360) 236-4738


SVC's Registered Nursing Program is accredited by...

Formerly National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC):

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
3343 Peachtree Road, NE, Suite 850
Atlanta, GA  30326
Telephone: 404.975.5000
Fax 404.975.5020


Upon successful completion of the nursing certificate or degree program, Nursing program graduates are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) for registered nursing or (NCLEX-PN) for practical nursing that is offered by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. This computerized examination is individually scheduled at designated testing sites. Successful completion of the examination is required to be licensed as a registered nurse (RN) or practical nurse (LPN). During the final quarter in the program, students will take a practice exam to help identify their strengths and areas of weakness. Students are then assisted in applying to take the final examination.  Passing a national licensing exam from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCLEX-PN for LPN and NCLEX-RN for RN) is required prior to working in the field, or pursuing advanced training and education (BSN, etc.).

  • RN - Annual licensure renewal is required, including continuing education. Many become nationally certified in their specialty. There may be requirements for continuing education on the job.
  • LPN - Periodic licensure renewal is required, including continuing education.
  • CNA - Nursing Assistant graduates are eligible to take the Washington State Competency Test to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

Licensing & Examination Eligibility

To be eligible to write the NCLEX (the nursing licensure exam), the nursing commission requires you to provide information about physical/mental conditions and any filed criminal charges.  You will be required to answer Yes or No to a series of questions.  It is important for students to be aware of these questions before starting the nursing program.  To learn more about eligibility requirements please read this document:  Nursing-Licensing Eligibility/Disqualifying Crimes. If you anticipate problems answering any of these questions, contact the commission directly.

You should also be aware that some clinical facilities are fingerprinting students for federal background checks and are randomly screening for drug usage. A criminal history may impact your ability to both attend a clinical class at selected clinical sites and receive a Washington State nursing license. If you have a criminal history it is important that you determine the impact this will have on your choice of a career.

Program Entry Requirements - General

Admission/enrollment into SVC's Nursing Program (PN & RN) is limited and based on a selective and/or waitlist application process.  All interested students must meet minimum qualifications in order to be considered for admission. Students seeking admission to any of the Nursing programs must first apply for admission to Skagit Valley College. Admission to the college does not guarantee acceptance into the nursing program. Take the college placement test (COMPASS) in math and English.   Applicant's to the nursing program must be a high school graduate or have passed the General Education Equivalency (GED) exam.

Each Nursing program (RN, PN, or NA) has its own admission guidelines and application process. You can view this information at the links provided below.  Generally, the following are required for admission to either the RN or PN programs.  Please note that applicants to the NA program are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis -- no wait list is maintained.

  • Attend an information session to get questions answered and meet a pre-nursing advisor.
  • Apply to SVC – indicate Nursing as your area of interest.
  • Take the college placement test in Math and English.
  • Successfully complete the programs required/prerequisite courses (a list is provided for each program).
  • Submit completed Nursing Admissions Application packet by deadline date.  No application form is required for the NA program.
  • Attend intake session following notification of acceptance.

Note:  The RN and PN curriculum is designed so that prerequisite and general education classes are completed prior to the 1-2 years of nursing-specific course work.

Admission packet must include:

  • 18 years of age by admission date
  • Documentation showing completion of program specific required/prerequisite courses
  • Completed Nursing Admissions Application Form
  • Copy of Current CNA certificate or LPN license (as applicable)
  • Any other nursing related licenses

Once you are officially accepted into the program, you will need to provide verification of the following items:

  • Required immunizations (see information below)
  • Pass both an Illegal Substance-Drug Screen and Criminal Background check
  • Professional Liability and Malpractice Insurance (cost is included in student fees)
  • Medical Insurance coverage for injury/sickness (strongly recommended but not currently required)

Admission Requirements

View the program information provided in the links below to learn more about specific admission and application requirements for RN, PN and NA programs.

Nursing Essential Skills

Students planning on entering any of the nursing programs need to be aware of the essential skills required of the successful nurse. The essential skills are the expectations upon which clinical performance is based for all levels of nursing. Nursing students are expected to demonstrate these skills and characteristics in the classroom, campus lab sessions, and clinical rotations. To learn more about the essential skills, please read this information.

Risks and Hazards

Persons interested in a career in nursing need to be aware of potential hazards and risks inherent in the field.  Nurses, including nursing students in clinical placements, work in many different environments, some of which are hazardous.  Nurses and their clients are exposed to infectious diseases, radiation, hazardous equipment, and environments in which accidents occur.  Nurses may spend a lot of time walking, bending, stretching, and standing. They are vulnerable to back injuries because they must often lift and move patients. During the course of the nursing program, nursing students learn strategies to achieve the National Patient Safety Goals for minimizing safety hazards and preventing injury. Nurses are not only responsible for their own safety but also for the safety of their clients.  Failure to apply the principles of safety may result in serious and/or potentially life-threatening injury to the nurse, the client, or other persons.  Nursing students are held to the same standard as nurses.  Safety violations that cause actual or potential harm to clients, self or others will result in immediate dismissal from the nursing program.

Immunization Requirements

Medical facilities require immunizations for all personnel who interface with patients. Students offered official admission to one of the nursing programs will need to provide verification of the following immunizations:

  • Negative tuberculin skin (TB) test or chest X-ray (1 every 12 months)
  • Recent diphtheria-tetnus (Tdap) vaccine (current within last 10 years)
  • Positive Rubella Titer (German Measles), or measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations (MMR). Two MMR's are required for those born after 1957.
  • Hepatitis B vaccination (series of 3 immunizations)
  • Flu Vaccine (yearly)
  • Varicella Vaccine (Chickenpox)

Background Check and Drug Screening

Once admitted to one of the nursing programs, all students must pass a multi-state, multi-zip code criminal back ground check as well as a drug/illegal substance screening. This requirement is based on medical industry standards and Washington State laws protecting vulnerable populations (RCW 43.43.880 and 43.43.842).  Drug screens and background checks are required by clinical agencies where students complete their practicum experience. Students should be aware that certain gross misdemeanors and felonies may disqualify them from participating in clinical work experiences and unable to complete their certificate or degree program. Future employment opportunities in the health care field may also be affected. Students who are unable to pass these screenings will be removed from the program.

Clinical Experiences

All nursing programs include a required clinical work experience.  Clinicals are at medical facilities requiring travel to various regions of Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish, and Island counties. All students accepted into the clinical experience must have reliable transportation. All experiences will be under the supervision of college nursing program faculty. Students will not be allowed to choose their clinical site experience (location, shift, days of week, etc.). The department chair and/or designated faculty select the facilities used for clinical sites and place qualified students.

Working While In The Program

 It is recommended that you do not work while in the program.  If you do have to work, we recommend that you work no more than 8 hours a week while in the full-time program and no more than 24 hours a week while in the part-time program.

Nondiscrimination Policy

The Nursing Division supports and adheres to the policy of Skagit Valley College not to discriminate on the basis of sex, disability, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or age in admission and access to or employment in its programs or activities as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act and their implementing regulations.

Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities

Upon admission, a candidate who discloses a disability and requests accommodation will be asked to provide documentation of his or her disability for the purpose of determining appropriate accommodations. The Department of Nursing will provide reasonable accommodations, but is not required to make modifications that would alter the nature or requirements of the program or provide auxiliary aids that present an undue burden to Skagit Valley College and its clinical sites. To continue in the program, the candidate must be able to perform all essential functions either with or without accommodation.

Requests for accommodation should be directed to:

Disability Support Services
360-416-7654 (Mount Vernon campus)
360-679-5319 (Whidbey Island campus)

Successful completion of the program, however, does not guarantee eligibility to take the NCLEX licensing examination or the ability to become licensed to practice nursing. Candidates with concerns or questions about specific health conditions, personal histories or disabilities should contact the Washington State Nursing Commission (360-664-2881).

Career Opportunities and Job Search Information

For more detailed information about Washington State healthcare employment trends, wage rates, employment opportunities, job tasks, etc. search the websites listed in Employment and Resource Links

Placement Rate

Placement and Completion Data

Licensed Practical Nursing On-Time Completion 55

New Admission Criteria

Fall 2014 applicants for the Registered Nursing Program will have new admission requirements.  Visit the Registerered Nursing Program page for details.