I attended an excellent diploma program in the early '80s. The SON had an arrangement/contract with a nearby liberal arts college so that all our non-nursing courses were offered through the college and were regular, transferable college credits. The actual nursing courses were taught at the hospital (in the separate SON building on the hospital grounds). We did most of our clinicals at "our" hospital, but also did clinical in other area hospitals and agencies.
I'm recalling this off the top of my head, not looking at a transcript, but we had Intro to Psych, Intro to Sociology, a year of organic chemistry (the same course the college chemistry and pre-med majors took), a year of A&P, nutrition, microbiology (one semester each), and a year of freshman composition. Nursing courses consisted of a year of Fundamentals (at the same time we were taking all the academic courses above), with two days of clinical a week, and then quarterly rotations through general medical nuring, general surgical nursing, OR, peds, OB, psych, ED, and critical care. For each of those rotations, we spent (Jr. year) two days a week in 4-6 hours of class, and 3 days a week in clinical, or (Sr. year), one 4-6 hour day a week in class and 4 days in clinical. We rotated through all shifts and worked up to carrying about half the patient load of the staff nurses. In OR, we passed instruments for six weeks and circulated for six weeks. School continued through the summers -- we got two weeks off at Xmas and two weeks off in the summer, and the "3 year" program literally consisted of 33 months
of full-time school. It was extremely rare for any of the graduates to flunk boards (although it did happen once in a while
), and, when we graduated, you could drop us down anywhere nursing was happening and we were prepared to do the job, without any extensive orientation.
There are many reasons why diploma schools have been eclipsed by the ADN and BSN programs, and there are multiple older threads on this board you can search and review to find discussion about that question. Although I am as big a fan of "more & better" education for RNs as anyone (I have since gone on to complete a BSN and MSN, and am probably not done yet), I do feel strongly that this is one of the (several) instances of nursing throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I am aware that, like anything else, there were good diploma programs and not-so-good diploma programs and I was fortunate to be at a good one, but I received a far
superior education in nursing there to anything I've encountered in the several ADN and BSN programs with which I've been involved since then, not just clinically, but also in terms of critical thinking, ethical/legal issues, management/leadership, professionalism, and all that good stuff. I am, frankly, shocked
at how little nursing students learn in nursing school these days, and cannot imagine why that is considered adequate or acceptable.