Is there a National Standard for Clinical hours in a program?

Students Pre-Nursing


I've heard many people comment regarding different schools and their clinical requirements, isn't there some type of standard for this? If not, what is the "normal" number of clinical hours to obtain your RN? Thanks!

Locally, people are telling me to go to a diploma program because I will have more clinical hours then if I do an ABSN at my 2 local colleges. I just figured the actual hours would have to be the same to be prepared as a nurse.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

No, there is not a national standard. Nursing practice and education is mostly governed at the state level. Each state has its own Nurse Practice Act and State Board of Nursing. While the various State Boards communicate with each other and collaborate on some issues (such as the NCLEX), they are each functioning under their own state's Nurse Practice Act.

So ... it comes down to your state legislature.

As for clinical hours ... Do a search here for threads on that issue related to Excelsior -- a distence education program that requires no clinical hours (though it only accepts students who have some clinical education in other fields). This is a very contentious topic. In recent years, State Boards have tried to set minimum standards for clinical hours as a requirement of nursing programs -- and that has set off a firestorm of controversy as the students and graduates of programs that have included a minimal number of clinical hours fight those higher standards.

For example, in my home state of Virginia, the old version of the Nurse Practice Act did not state a minimal requirement for the number of clinical hours a school must provide. However, when they updated the Nurse Practice Act last year, they added a minimal requirement of 500 hours. That's causing stress on those programs that included minimal clinical hours -- and means that future graduates of distence education programs without required clinicals will have to get those hours before they can be licensed here.

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