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Programs include LPN/LVN, ADN, BSN, MSN, and more

Nursing is the largest profession in California. The state is home to more than 430,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). In Costa Mesa, many of these healthcare professionals earned their degree at a local college or university, such as Vanguard University, Pacific College, or University of Phoenix’s Southern California campus. Collectively, these schools offer programs for a broad spectrum of nursing roles.

Graduates of Costa Mesa’s top nursing schools are prepared to seek positions at major area hospitals and medical centers. The city’s largest healthcare employers include College Hospital Costa Mesa, Hoag Hospital, and Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center. Depending on the role, the average annual nursing salary in Costa Mesa can range from $28,800 for entry-level positions to $133,000 for senior roles.

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CRNAs perform one of the most complex and demanding nursing roles. They provide general anesthesia and regional anesthesia in both inpatient and outpatient locations. CRNAs must hold an advanced or terminal degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program. They must also possess a valid RN license, one year of critical care experience, and a passing score on the national certification examination.

Like CRNAs, nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). NPs prescribe medications, diagnose and treat illnesses, order diagnostic tests, administer physical examinations, and perform medical procedures such as biopsies, cryotherapy, and casting. Nurses in this field must have specialized graduate education. After passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), NPs will earn a master of science in nursing (MSN), doctor of nursing practice (DNP), or doctor of philosophy (PhD) in a focal nursing area. Common NP focal areas include cardiology, family practice, and gerontology.

Registered nurse is perhaps the most critical cog in the healthcare wheel. RNs perform a wide range of independent healthcare tasks like administering treatments and medications, coordinating patient care, and educating patients about medical conditions. RNs typically hold an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Some may also hold an MSN degree. All RNs must pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam to practice in California.

LVNs fill an important frontline patient care role. They tend to the sick or injured under the supervision of registered nurses, surgeons, and physicians. LVNs must complete a state-approved certificate or associate’s degree program and pass the NCLEX-PN licensure exam.

Nursing assistants perform many routine healthcare tasks like bathing patients, helping them dress, serving them meals, and transferring them between the wheelchair and bed. CNAs must complete a brief training program of roughly 100 hours and pass a state certification test.

To help Costa Mesa’s aspiring nurses find the right career path and educational program, we’ve compiled below a list of the city’s top nursing schools.

Costa Mesa nursing schools by NCLEX score

Pacific College
3160 Red Hill Avenue | Costa Mesa, California 92626
  • Diploma in Vocational Nursing: 71.2% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
University of Phoenix - Southern California
3100 Bristol Street | Costa Mesa, California 92626
  • MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN: Nursing Administration
  • MSN: Nursing Education
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Vanguard University
55 Fair Drive | Costa Mesa, California 92626
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
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