The demand for quality care in Illinois is expected to increase by 20,000 nurses within the next 10 years, according to experts. In Illinois, accredited nursing schools offer a variety of career opportunities beyond working in hospitals or healthcare settings in metropolitan areas.
Illinois recognizes the importance of nursing care that is patient-focused. It looks to provide a high level of care and supports the industry’s move toward continuing education.
In Illinois, many nurses hold or are pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which gives them the advantage of earning higher salaries and improving their ability to advance their careers. To meet future needs, candidates with a similar philosophy of patient-centered healthcare are needed.
The process of selecting the best nursing school in Illinois can be challenging. Choosing a school that supports students through licensure and beyond is the key to making this process easier.
NCLEX-RN pass rates are a great way to measure this. This article examines the top 20 nursing schools in Illinois by analyzing NCLEX-RN pass rates, which are percentages of graduates who pass the exam.
There are schools that offer associate’s degrees in nursing (ADN/ASN), bachelor’s degrees in nursing (BSN), and direct-entry master’s degrees in nursing (MSN).
Southeastern Illinois College
Nursing is an excellent career choice if you have a passion for helping others. There are many employment opportunities for registered nurses in Illinois. The ADN program at Southeastern Illinois College is open to LPN graduates who hold an active PN license.
Admission to this program is limited to 30 students every fall. The curriculum emphasizes evidence-based nursing practice, the care of a multicultural population, development of leadership skills, and health information technology.
Graduates of this program can take the NCLEX-RN exam with confidence due to the dedication of the faculty and the variety of clinical experiences they receive.
Illinois State University
As a student in Mennonite’s nursing program, you will benefit from all the advantages a large university can offer, but you will also be able to experience the personalized environment that only a small nursing college can provide.
This facility includes classrooms, clinical labs, and clinical simulation labs where students can develop their skills using high-tech mannequins in a real-life setting. The Bloomington and Normal metropolitan areas offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities for clinicals.
At clinical sites, a faculty-student ratio of 1:8 is maintained to ensure maximum learning opportunities.
In addition to participating in community projects, Mennonite College also oversees the Change Agents to the Underserved: Service Education (CAUSE) project, in partnership with the Chestnut Family Health Center, McLean County Health Department, and Community Health Care Clinic.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago founded Lewis University in 1932 as a school for technical education. While the school admits students from all religious backgrounds, its Jesuit values are still evident in its nursing curriculum, which stresses the need to take care of the spirit of a patient as well as the body.
There are more than 50 local hospitals where nursing students can participate in clinical rotations, including the La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Edward Hines, Provena Mercy Medical Center, Loyola Medical Center, and Jr. VA Hospital.
In order to ensure individualized attention from their clinical instructors, students are never in a group larger than eight. Using high-tech mannequins capable of simulating a variety of chronic and acute conditions, students will be able to practice and perfect their clinical skills before working with actual patients.
Lewis University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions was designed specifically for those who believe that patient care is as much about caring for a person’s heart, mind, and soul as they are about dealing with their physical symptoms.
The first baccalaureate program in nursing in Illinois was offered by Loyola University’s nursing school in 1935. In the field of nursing education, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing has remained at the forefront.
Loyola University is well known for producing dynamic leaders and innovators, and this is also true of its nursing graduates.
Year after year, the school consistently ranks near the top of U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best nursing schools in the country.
There are six immersive simulation bays in the Walgreen Family Virtual Hospital, located on the sixth floor of the nursing building. These bays are equipped with six realistic mannequins that mimic a variety of chronic and acute medical conditions.
In this setting, nursing students learn clinical skills and assessment strategies alongside students from the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University. Some of the best healthcare facilities in the Chicago area are available to nursing students during their clinical rotations.
Among these hospitals are Evanston Northwestern Healthcare System, Loyola University Health System, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Joliet Junior College
The nursing program at Joliet Junior College combines on-campus classes with the flexibility of online classes. Students at the college have access to high-tech simulations and extensive clinical experiences to prepare them for working with patients in a real setting.
Joliet offers nursing students two pathways to begin their career as a registered nurse in Illinois.
The LPN to RN bridge program or the two-year associate degree program are both options for becoming a registered nurse.
In the LPN to RN bridge program, 15 credits from their previous LPN coursework are transferred to the RN program. By doing this, they can graduate sooner than if they had to complete the entire program.
Southern Illinois University
Nursing students at SIUE School of Nursing learn how to balance a rapidly changing healthcare environment. A WE CARE clinic is operated by the nursing school at the university’s satellite campus in East St. Louis, Missouri, just 20 miles from the Edwardsville campus.
Nursing students have the opportunity to provide primary healthcare services to diverse patient populations at the clinic. In addition to being a nursing school, the facility is also a research center with government funding.
Practicing on high-tech mannequins at the Simulated Learning Center for Health Sciences allows students to learn hands-on techniques and critical problem-solving skills. The students rotate through local nonprofits, hospitals, and healthcare facilities throughout the city.
University of St. Francis
The University of St. Francis in Joliet’s Leach College of Nursing is another nursing school founded as a Catholic institution in Illinois. Nursing students here are taught to be compassionate as well as scientifically minded.
It was founded as the St. Joseph School of Nursing in 1920. The college was renamed the John Leach College of Nursing in 2011, and it moved to the new St. Clare campus in 2016.
Students are taught in Guardian Angel Hall, a renovated historic building that has been converted into a modern, cutting-edge learning center.
Simulated lab environments provide students with the opportunity to practice basic assessment skills using high-tech mannequins configured with similar responses as hospitalized patients.
Throughout Joliet and the surrounding areas, students have the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned through clinical rotations at hospices, managed care facilities, public health clinics, skilled nursing homes, hospitals, home health agencies, and primary care clinics
Illinois Valley Community College
In the region, Illinois Valley Community College is one of the most affordable options for nursing degrees. Furthermore, with the college offering financial aid opportunities, students can graduate with much lesser debt.
Students will complete general education and nursing courses, preparing them for the NCLEX-RN exam. Students are advised to complete most non-nursing courses before taking their first nursing course at the college. This keeps the focus on nursing courses only.
St. Xavier University
Another nursing degree provider in Illinois that gets high ratings is St. Xavier University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. As a Catholic university founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, St. Xavier University’s nursing school adheres to Mercy values such as respecting and helping the poor.
As a result of attending this school, students will be prepared for the challenges involved in providing health care to diverse populations whose needs are not currently met.
An immersive learning environment is provided in the learning resource laboratory. This provides the combination of critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a practical setting.
To maximize experiential learning opportunities, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences partners with some of Chicago’s top medical centers, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.
Northern Illinois University
The School of Nursing at Northern Illinois University is known for the diversity of its faculty’s research interests. These interests span from research on pain management in general to more focused studies into predictors of nursing student success.
Nursing faculty-mentored research opportunities are available to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Students can take blood pressure and listen to heart and lung sounds in the skills lab, which is a virtual five-bed setting equipped with high-tech, realistic mannequins.
A virtual hospital simulates real medical emergencies for students to practice critical thinking skills. Nursing students participate in clinicals at a variety of regional health care facilities, including hospitals, community clinics, and other agencies.
University of Illinois
Many of Chicago’s underserved residents receive primary health care at the Mile Square Health Center, which is operated by the College of Nursing.
As a WHO Collaborating Center for International Nursing Development in Primary Health Care, the college has also been recognized by the World Health Organization.
Students can practice the skills needed for patient care in a safe virtual environment in the college’s 15,000-square-foot simulation lab.
A number of facilities throughout the metropolitan Chicago area are partners with the college for clinicals, including Memorial Hospital, Southern Illinois Health Care Foundation, and Greenville Family Wellness Center.
Kishwaukee College offers a two-year RN degree that provides a solid foundation in nursing. With its small class sizes and dedicated faculty, the school helps students succeed academically and professionally.
There is a good balance between sciences, behavioral sciences, communication, and nursing concepts in this program.
The school admits no more than 40 students per year and requires them to complete a rigorous 66-credit hour academic program.
In addition to nursing fundamentals, students take pharmacology courses, mental health nursing, maternal-child health nursing, pediatric health nursing, and maternal-child health nursing.
As a result of completing this program, students will be capable of practicing evidence-based nursing, using technology, and collaborating efficiently within healthcare organizations.
A BSN program at Resurrection University’s College of Nursing is one of the few in Illinois offering evening classes and weekend clinicals.
When the university first opened in 1914, it was a diploma hospital nursing school affiliated with West Suburban Hospital in Chicago’s Oak Park suburb. Resurrection Health Care System purchased the school in 2014, which manages 12 hospitals and 120 other healthcare facilities.
Located in the historic Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, Presence Saint Elizabeth Hospital is home to the College of Nursing.
As students become more proficient in nursing practice, they will have the opportunity to practice clinical skills at the Foglia Family Foundation IPE Simulation Center.
A variety of hospitals and outpatient facilities are affiliated with Presence Health, including Presence Holy Family Medical Center, Presence Mercy Medical Center, Presence Resurrection Medical Center, and Presence Saint Francis Hospital. These are all locations where clinicals take place.
Heartland Community College
In its two-year Associate of Science in Nursing program, Heartland Community College prepares nursing students for a rewarding career in healthcare. To obtain a nursing license, students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam as part of their training.
There are a maximum of 40 students accepted each year into this program. Students can enter this program as new students or as LPN graduates.
After completing their LPN, students will bypass the first year and start directly into the second year. In order to develop practical skills, students complete clinical experiences at local sites.
Students interested in pursuing higher education in nursing should know that Heartland College has partnered with prominent 4-year colleges and universities in Illinois, enabling them to transfer credits easily.
The nursing program at Bradley University is famous for its entrepreneurial programs, which encourage students to think creatively and proactively.
At the Teddy Bear Clinic, for instance, nursing students give stuffed animals to local elementary school children and teach them how to give them shots, take vital signs, and wrap bandages.
As a result, anxiety associated with doctor’s appointments has significantly decreased among these children.
Nursing curriculums integrate high-tech experiential learning through simulation scenarios. In Peoria’s hospitals, nursing homes, and social services agencies, students practice their new skills.
Some of the reasons Kaskaskia College is one of the most sought-after two-year nursing programs in Illinois include outstanding instructors, immersive clinical experiences, and a world-class Nursing Education Center that includes simulation learning. Up to 40 students can be admitted to this RN program four times a year.
As a result of its emphasis on teaching evidence-based nursing care, clinical reasoning, effective patient communication, and employable skills, the college boasts a 100% placement rate, highly impressive for a college.
By introducing clinical experiences during the first week of classes, students are able to comprehend theoretical concepts better while simultaneously applying them to practice.
In addition, this program will prepare students to become lifelong learners, which will help them grow professionally.
Oakton Community College
Des Plaines, Illinois
With its two-year traditional RN degree, Oakton Community College addresses the critical nursing shortage in Illinois. The program requires students to take a series of classes on the college’s Des Plaines campus. Nursing theory and pharmacology are covered in nursing courses.
Additionally, clinical experiences will provide students with the opportunity to develop their bedside skills. A bridge program from LPN to RN is also available at the college.
As an added bonus, Oakton has transfer agreements with 12 major colleges and universities in the state, allowing students to seamlessly transfer from your RN to a BSN program online or on campus.
John A. Logan College
Registered nurses who are seeking to enter the field of patient care as soon as possible can enroll in John A. Logan College’s RN program in Illinois.
There are full-time and part-time options available for this associate degree program. In the full-time schedule, which begins in August every year, the entire coursework is crammed into nine months.
Part-time programs, which are only offered in odd-numbered years, take 21 months to complete. In addition to classroom work, clinical experiences at Carronade, Marion, Anna, and other clinical sites in Southern Illinois prepare students to meet the challenges of real-world patient care.
Lincoln Land Community College
Lincoln Land Community College, well known for its high NCLEX-RN pass rates, is able to offer both a traditional ADN as well as a bridge program from a LPN to an ADN. Due to the blended format of both of these programs, working students can pursue this degree while continuing to work.
In spite of this, students should be prepared to travel for some on-campus classes and clinical.
QSEN’s nursing competencies of patient-centered care, teamwork, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, patient safety, and healthcare informatics are incorporated into Lincoln Land Community College nursing education to ensure student success after graduation.
William Rainey Harper College
William Rainey Harper College’s Associate of Science in Nursing program prepares students to provide competent patient care to a diverse population.
In the program, bedside scenarios are replicated in a modern, high-tech lab that combines classwork sessions with simulated learning. As a result, students practice professional skills without compromising the health of a patient.
Coursework consists of 68 credits across four semesters and includes both nursing and general education courses. Students who graduate from this program typically start working immediately, although some choose to transfer to a four-year university.
Written by Joanne Potter
Joanne, BSN and RN, is a writer that specializes in health and wellness. She has fifteen years of experience as a Registered Nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Her years working at the bedside and extensive neonatal knowledge enable her to write with a deep understanding of what patients and families want from their communities. Visit her LinkedIn page.