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If you are interested in joining the nursing profession, you might find yourself bewildered by the alphabet soup of options that present themselves. Below we clarify and explain each of these distinct nursing roles.

The registered nurse (RN) is the classic “nurse” position. Registered nurses make independent patient care decisions, dispense medications, and administer a wide range of medical procedures. They often lead teams of auxiliary nursing staff as well. Arizona’s RNs must complete an accredited prelicensure degree program and pass the NCLEX-RN national licensure examination.

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The licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a more junior nursing role. LPNs provide direct patient care and may dispense certain medications. They work in a variety of short- and long-term care settings. Arizona’s LPNs must complete an accredited prelicensure program, usually a one-year certificate, and pass the NCLEX-PN national licensure examination.

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) fill an entry-level nursing role. They help patients with the most necessary tasks of everyday living, such as feeding or cleaning. Arizona’s CNAs must complete a short training program and pass the state certification exam.

More than 10,000 nursing professionals work in the metropolitan area of Tucson, Arizona. Major local nursing employers include Tucson Medical Center, the University of Arizona Health System, and Curo Health Services. Roughly three-fourths of the area’s nurses are RNs, who earn over $66,000 annually. The remainder are LPNs and CNAs who earn $45,000 and $26,000 per year, respectively.

To help those starting a nursing career in Tucson, we’ve listed below the top nursing schools and programs in the metro area.

Featured Schools

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Tucson nursing schools by NCLEX score

Pima Medical Institute - Tucson
3350 East Grant Road, Suite 200 | Tucson, Arizona 85716
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing: 100.0% NCLEX pass rate (2010 through Q1-2 2013)
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 87.2% NCLEX pass rate (2010 through 2017)
Pima Community College - Center for Training and Development
5901 South Calle Santa Cruz | Tucson, Arizona 85709
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing: 96.7% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1-2 2013)
Pima Community College - West
2202 West Anklam Road | Tucson, Arizona 85709
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing: 96.1% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1-2 2013)
University of Arizona
1401 East University Boulevard | Tucson, Arizona 85721
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 93.7% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2017)
  • Direct Entry MSN: 90.9% NCLEX pass rate (2012 through 2017)
  • DNP: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • Post-Baccalaureate PhD
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Emergency Nurse Practitioner
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Pima Community College
4905C East Broadway Boulevard | Tucson, Arizona 85709
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 91.6% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1-2 2013)
Brookline College - Tucson
5441 East 22nd Street, Suite 125 | Tucson, Arizona 85711
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
Tucson College
5151 East Broadway Boulevard, Suite 155 | Tucson, Arizona 85711
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
University of Phoenix - Southern Arizona
300 South Craycroft Road | Tucson, Arizona 85711
  • MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
School Program NCLEX score Time period
Pima Medical Institute - Tucson Certificate in Practical Nursing 100.0% 2010 to Q1-2 2013
Associate's Degree in Nursing 87.2% 2010 to 2017
Pima Community College - Center for Training and Development Certificate in Practical Nursing 96.7% 2009 to Q1-2 2013
Pima Community College - West Certificate in Practical Nursing 96.1% 2009 to Q1-2 2013
University of Arizona Bachelor of Science in Nursing 93.7% 2009 to 2017
Direct Entry MSN 90.9% 2012 to 2017
DNP: Nurse Anesthesia
Doctor of Nursing Practice
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing
Post-Baccalaureate DNP
Post-Baccalaureate PhD
Post-Master's Certificate: Emergency Nurse Practitioner
Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Pima Community College Associate's Degree in Nursing 91.6% 2009 to Q1-2 2013
Brookline College - Tucson Nursing Assistant Certificate
Tucson College Nursing Assistant Certificate
University of Phoenix - Southern Arizona MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner
Master of Science in Nursing
Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion