need advice: diploma program/bsn/employment


Hello Everyone!! I was hoping y'all could give me some advice/opinions on diploma programs. I am switching careers to become a nurse and have found a diploma program offered at St Luke's hospital in PA. I like how the program offers 900 hours of clinical. However, upon graduation I want to move out of PA and to another part of the US (either the south or mid west). Are diploma graduates able to get jobs in hospitals that are not affiliated with the school they got their diploma from? Does anyone know of recent diploma graduates being hired at hospitals that are in major cities? Are diploma graduates looked at in the same light as an ADN graduate? If I did not do the diploma program, I could apply for an accelerated BSN. I know the BSN is the future, but I worry about not picking up on the clinical aspect of such a fast paced program. Any advice would be helpful!!!

Thank you for your time,


Specializes in FNP. Has 25 years experience.

Search the topic. You will find a number of ADN prepared RNs here saying they are having more difficulty than their degreed peers. In fact, there is such a thread at the top of this page right now.

In the end, you have to weigh all the pros and cons as they apply to your circumstances. Good luck, whichever you decide.


144 Posts

I am doing the same as you are thinking of doing. I am going back to school to get my RN license and I already have a BS degree. I am hoping to go to a diploma program because the ones here in my part of PA have 1000-1300 hours of clinical...which is a heck of a lot more than the BSN or ADN programs have. That being said, I WILL go back and do an RN-BSN program once I'm done because I know it will be needed in the future. If I could swing an accelerated BSN program (schedule wise), I would probably go that route. But, since I can't...I am going to hopefully go to one of the local diploma schools, get killer clinical exposure, and THEN get my BSN - giving me, hopefully, the best of both worlds for A LOT cheaper than doing the accelerated BSN.

As far as other places hiring diploma grads, my understanding is that here in PA, because there are so many diploma schools in PA, that they are not looked at much different than ADN's, and in fact, some facilities prefer diploma vs. ADN (all things being equal) because of the extensive clinical experience. Other places...I can't speak to. But I can tell you that I've looked into the RN-BSN programs a lot and most, if not all, say that you have to have a valid RN license via either an ADN OR a I don't think it matters. But I'd check in the area you want to go to....

Good luck :-)

Trust me, go with the BSN. PA is the one of the only states in the USA that has diploma programs because if you look at our board of nursing members ... guess what... there are two diploma member left and they want to keep them open. Actually St. Lukes is attempting to make it a BSN program, but that probably wont be for a couple of years now.

Just get the BSN, if you dont get it now, youll never go back to get it plus trying to find a job will be very hard because hospitals are picky with this economy and only want BSN nurses... even community hospitals...

Lastly, depending on BSN program, will not be able to transfer all of your courses from the diploma/adn program.

In the area of PA I live in, there are 3 diploma schools associated with a major hospital. Those graduates are hired by the hospital. As for a BSN, the diploma schools haver partenered with a couple universities that will allow you to transfer all your credits and complete the RN-to-BSN program in a shorter amount of time.


144 Posts

Agreed...In the area of PA I am in there are 8 diploma schools surrounding the city. They get hired into the hospital systems, which are major hospital systems - and also they are partnered with University's (like Carlow, Penn State) for credits so that you can easily get your BSN later. Additionally, all of the RN-BSN programs require only that you have your RN license, not where you went to school to get it.

The BSN is great if you have the time/money/inclination to do it now. But getting your RN education at a diploma school will in no way hinder your ability to get your BSN later, and may actually help you get a job faster as the hospital programs hire their own graduates.

I'm getting my RN from a diploma school because it has nearly twice the amount of clinical experience. THEN I will get my BSN so that I not only have had entensive clinical experience, but then I will also have my BSN.

I'm in western PA where the job market is somewhat better than the eastern side. I'm not sure where St. Luke's is, but if it's in an area with a difficult job market, I'd definitely go there as you have a better shot of getting your foot in the door. I'd check with each school you are interested in and see what their job placement rate is...that will tell you a lot...

As always, just my .2cents.

What are the diploma schools in the Philly area? What hospitals are they partnered with?


3 Posts

From what I know, I lived in allentown, right next to bethlehem where the St lukes hospital and the are affiliated with Moravian College so the credits are transferable, but again do the research

What are the diploma schools in the Philly area? What hospitals are they partnered with?

Not sure who is partnered with who (the diploma programs are generally run by the hospitals themselves) but here's a listing of all the nursing programs in Phila and surrounding counties. I would second the advice of those urging you to go for your BSN. The job market for new grad RN's in general is poor but is dismal for ADN and diploma nurses. Something on the order of 3/4's of my graduating class from 2010 a well-respected CC nursing program are still looking for nursing jobs. You don't have to take my word for this though - ask the placement office of the program you're considering for the stats.

Not trying to discourage you from getting your RN through a CC or diploma program, just trying to make you aware of the reality of the new health care job market. These days, you should view a diploma or CC nursing program as a jump start to your nursing education and not the end state as was the case in the past. Once you are an RN, you can get your BSN any number of ways, including through any one of literally hundreds on-line programs.

Hospital diploma programs:

Abington Memorial (Montco)

Aria (Phila)

Northeastern (Phila)

Roxborough (Phila)

St Joseph's (Phila)

Associate degree programs:

Bucks Co CC

CC Phila

Delco CC

Gwynedd-Mercy Col (Montco)

Harcum College (Montco)

Thomas Jefferson (Phila) – may have suspended their ADN pgm

Montco CC

BSN programs:

Drexel U (Phila)

Eastern U (Montco)

Gwynedd-Mercy Col (Montco)

Holy Family U (Phila)

Thomas Jefferson (Phila)

La Salle U (Phila)

Neumann U (Delco)

Temple U (Phila)

U Penn (Phila)

Villanova (Montco)

W Chester U (Chesco)

Widener (Delco)


99 Posts

Even with a bsn - we are not finding employment - we graduated 1 year ago.

good luck

Specializes in LDRP.

i go to st lukes and we get a yearly survey completed by the most recent graduates. the most recent one said 98% of this past April's graduates are employed in the nursing field.. i think about 75% were in acute care. i know you plan on moving, but st lukes is known to hire a large chunk of its graduates every year.

Even with a bsn - we are not finding employment - we graduated 1 year ago.

good luck

I know it's small consolation but something like 75% of my CC class from last year have not been able to find nursing jobs. Though I still send applications out, for the most part, I've given up and am working on my BSN. Hopefully, things will change over the next year or so. If not, there's always the MSN program . . . something's gotta change.