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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 Community College - Desert Vista
5901 South Calle Santa Cruz | Tucson, Arizona 85709
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing: 94.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
  • Patient Care Technician Certificate
University of Arizona
1305 North Martin Avenue | Tucson, Arizona 85721
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 93.9% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
  • Direct Entry MSN: 92.0% NCLEX pass rate (2012 through 2018)
  • BSN-to-PhD in Nursing
  • Certificate: Professional Care Coordination for 21st Century Healthcare Systems
  • DNP-to-PhD in Nursing
  • DNP: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP: Informatics
  • DNP: Nurse Anesthetist
  • DNP: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Graduate Certificate: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Graduate Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Graduate Certificate: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Graduate Certificate: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN-to-PhD in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Systems Leadership
  • PhD/DNP Dual Degree Program
  • Post-Master's Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Pima Community College - West
2202 West Anklam Road | Tucson, Arizona 85709
  • Certificate in Practical Nursing: 93.8% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 90.6% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2018)
Pima Medical Institute - Tucson
2121 North Craycroft Road, Building 1 | Tucson, Arizona 85712
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 87.1% NCLEX pass rate (2010 through 2018)
Brookline College - Tucson
5441 East 22nd Street, Suite 125 | Tucson, Arizona 85711
  • Patient Care Technician Diploma
Carrington College - Tucson
201 North Bonita Avenue, Suite 101 | Tucson, Arizona 85745
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
School Program NCLEX score Time period
Pima Community College - Desert Vista Certificate in Practical Nursing 94.5% 2009 to 2018
Nursing Assistant Certificate
Patient Care Technician Certificate
University of Arizona Bachelor of Science in Nursing 93.9% 2009 to 2018
Direct Entry MSN 92.0% 2012 to 2018
BSN-to-PhD in Nursing
Certificate: Professional Care Coordination for 21st Century Healthcare Systems
DNP-to-PhD in Nursing
DNP: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
DNP: Family Nurse Practitioner
DNP: Informatics
DNP: Nurse Anesthetist
DNP: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
DNP: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Graduate Certificate: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Graduate Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
Graduate Certificate: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Graduate Certificate: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
MSN-to-PhD in Nursing
Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Systems Leadership
PhD/DNP Dual Degree Program
Post-Master's Doctor of Nursing Practice
RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
Pima Community College - West Certificate in Practical Nursing 93.8% 2009 to 2018
Associate's Degree in Nursing 90.6% 2009 to 2018
Pima Medical Institute - Tucson Associate's Degree in Nursing 87.1% 2010 to 2018
Brookline College - Tucson Patient Care Technician Diploma
Carrington College - Tucson Associate's Degree in Nursing