A diploma in nursing is a type of license that allows an individual to officially practice medicine as a Registered Nurse and involves varying degrees of education and practical training. Most programs also require students to pass a certification exam, which may be separate from state and national nursing licensing exams.
Unlike a bachelor's or associate degree in nursing, which require courses and enrollment in a two- or four-year post-secondary educational institution, a diploma in nursing does not require extensive prior academic experience. Many programs take place with private nursing schools or entities within a private hospital and may only require a high school diploma or GED. These programs range in duration, but may take anywhere from one to two years to complete. Coursework typically includes a section that focuses on human anatomy and familiarity with the medical terms and tools typical of a nursing position, along with a section that touches on other medical fields and knowledge to offer a broader understanding.
Throughout the curriculum, students must also meet on-site training requirements by working in hospitals or clinics alongside licensed nurses and doctors. Many nursing schools have partnerships with nearby hospitals to facilitate this aspect of the course. Once the student meets all the occupational and educational requirements, he must complete a final exam that tests his knowledge of medicine, hospital administration and general nursing tasks. Depending on state laws, he may also need to take an additional licensing exam.