Courses & Programs

Practical Nursing Certificate

What will you learn?

Nursing is the art and science of caring. Nursing is an interpersonal process based on values, beliefs and standards of the profession. HCC's forty-week Practical Nurse Certificate Program (PN) prepares students to take the NCLEX-PN exam to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). 

Please note that acceptance to the PN program is competitive, and space is limited. All applicants must attend one of our monthly information sessions. The deadline for application each year is February 1.


  1. NCLEX Pass rate: The program's three year mean for the licensure pass rate will be at or above the national mean for the same three year period for the practical nurse programs.
  2. Eighty percent of students will pass the NCLEX-PN licensure exam on the 1st attempt.
  3. Students will evaluate their Holyoke Community College Nursing Education positively with an average of 3 out 5 on likert scale.
  4. Student retention: Eighty percent of the students will successfully complete the program requirements for the PN program within 6 semesters starting with those students enrolled in NUR/PNR 170 after the first week of classes (add/drop week)
  5. Employment: Eighty (80%) percent of the graduates of the nursing programs will be employed in nursing within six months of certification (PN).

what will you do?

Continue your education or enter the workforce! Nurses work in a wide range of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Physicians offices
  • Clinics
  • Research facilities
  • State and local health agencies

Learn more at What Can I Do With This Major?

44 total credits

44 Program Requirements

Depending on course selection, 30% of this program can be completed online.

A detailed study of the structure and function of the human body. Physical and chemical principles, as they apply to the comprehensive treatment of human physiology, form an integral part of the course. Content includes general introductory material, tissues, integumentary, skeletal, muscular and nervous systems. A majors course designed for nursing, physical education, radiologic technology and other allied-health majors. Some dissection of preserved animal specimen material is included. Prerequisite: A grade of C or better in BIO 107 taken within 7 years or a passing score on the challenge exam.
A continuation of Anatomy & Physiology I (BIO 217), concentrating on cardiovascular, lymphatic, immune, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems. Emphasis is placed on the correlation and integration of all the body systems. Substantial dissection of preserved animal specimen material is included. Prerequisite: BIO 217
Introduction to the study and principles of behavior. Topics include general principles of scientific investigation; physiological bases of behavior including sensation, perception, learning, emotion, and motivation; development; individual differences; attitudes; and group dynamics. Prerequisite: Eligibility for ENG 101.
An introduction to the science of nutrition as it applies to everyday life. Students will learn how to apply the logic of science to their own nutritional concerns. Topics include the six major nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. The course also will examine energy balance, weight control, the digestive process, nutrition fads, supplements, fiber, and disease as it relates to nutrition and fitness. A dietary computer application is used throughout the semester to track personal dietary, energy, and fitness. Prerequisite: Eligibility for ENG 101.
Pharmacology is the study of the action of drugs and how certain disease states are affected by these chemical interventions. This course will introduce the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to continuously improve the quality and safety of the healthcare provided while preparing and administering medications to patients with stable or well managed health issues. Students will identify medications administered to prevent illness and manage common stable health conditions. Common topics to be discussed will include, names of medication (Generic and Brand), classification of drugs, indications for use, contraindication for use, therapeutic dose range, adverse effects and nursing implications. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the Nursing Program. Prerequisite or Corequisite: BIO 217, PSY 110. Corequisite: NUR/PNR 170, NUR/PNR 172, 1 Lecture Hour
Students will continue to expand upon the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to continuously improve the quality and safety of the health care provided while preparing and administering medications to patients across the life span. Students will continue to identify medications that are administered for the promotion and maintenance of health including specialized populations. Common topics that will be discussed will include names of medications (Generic and Brand), classification of drugs, indications for use, contraindications for use, therapeutic doses, adverse effects and nursing implications. Prerequisite: NTR 101, NUR 170, PHM 171, PNR 182, NUR/PNR 172. Prerequisite/Corequisite: BIO 218, PSY 216. Corequisite: NUR/PNR 180, 1 Lecture Hour

The students will identify and explore knowledge, skills and attitudes underlying the key components of nursing practice. These include therapeutic communication, assessment, clinical decision making, health promotion and disease prevention. Utilizing caring interventions, students will begin to implement safe clinical practice. Nursing students will be registered for either NUR 170 or PNR 170 - cross listed course. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the Nursing Program. Prerequisite or Corequisite: BIO 217, PHM 171, NUR/PNR 172, PSY 110, 4 Lecture Hours; 3 Laboratory Hours; 12 Clinical Hours. 

Additional Course Fees: Malpractice Insurance $15, Misc. Tests $100, Supplies $200, Program Fee $200, Technological Device Fee $500. All fees are subject to change.

Students will gain an understanding of the role of the professional nurse. Students will explore the history of nursing, nursing education, and elements of professionalism. Student will identify contemporary issues and trends impacting nursing practice today. The health care delivery system will be examined as it relates to current nursing practice.Prerequisite: Acceptance into the Nursing Program. Prerequisite or Corequisite: BIO 217, PSY 110, Corequisite: NUR/PNR 170 and PHM 171, 1.5 Lecture Hours; 0.5 Laboratory Hours

Students will build upon the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of nursing fundamentals to apply health concepts in the various health care settings. Students will explore health maintenance concepts and common health concerns with specialized populations across the life span. This course is a cross listed course NUR/PNR 180.Prerequisite: NUR/PNR 170, NUR/PNR 172, PHM 171. Prerequisite or Corequisite: BIO 218, PSY 216. Corequisite: PHM 181, 4 Lecture Hours: 3 Laboratory Hours; 12 Clinical Hours.

Additional Course Fees: Malpractice Insurance $15, Misc. Tests $100, Supplies $200, Program Fee $200. All fees are subject to change.

This course continues to address contemporary professional issues that impact the transition into the practice of Practical Nurse. The student will learn leadership and management skills that will affect the Practical Nurse. Prerequisite: PNR 172, PNR 170, Prerequisite or Corequisite: NTR 101, 1 Lecture Hour; 1 Clinical Hour
Students will attain and synthesize the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for entry level practice. Utilize acute and complex patient care experiences, the student will incorporate and continue to build on previously learned knowledge, skills and attitudes. Learning will be facilitated through case based and simulation experiences, as well as clinical partnerships.Prerequisite: PNR 180, PHM 181, 1 Lecture Hour; 2 Clinical Hours

CORI and SORI are state statutes that regulate licensure as a registered nurse. Prior to official enrollment and at the beginning of each semester in Nursing Programs, all accepted applicants and students must give permission for CORI and a SORI check. Some clinical agencies prohibit clinical participation if there is a finding when the CORI check is complete. Participation in planned clinical experiences throughout the curriculum is required; however, acceptance into the program does not guarantee placement in a clinical agency. All applicants and nursing students will be subject to the Criminal Record Information Act (CORI check), the Sex Offender Registry Information Act (SORI), Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 6, Section 172-178, and Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 18a, Section 1, et seq., and regulations promulgated pursuant to such statutes. Court record/past conviction may present a barrier to eligibility for licensure as a registered nurse (RN) or as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Applicants with a court record/past conviction are advised to consult an attorney to determine eligibility to meet legal qualifications for nurse licensure in Massachusetts.

All applicants for licensure as LPN must be of "good moral character" as required by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing statutes and regulations. The licensure applicant must have had no criminal convictions for a minimum of five (5) years before the date of submission of the license application and must have successfully completed all court ordered stipulations a minimum of one (1) year before the applicant will be considered for licensure by the Board (Massachusetts GeneralLaws, Chapter 112, ss.74, 74A, and 76). Refer to http:// for further information.Students accepted to an educational program that prepares for licensure as a registered nurse should be aware that a court record may present a barrier to her/his ability to obtain licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other jurisdictions in the United States.The application for the Nursing Program can be found either by contacting the Admissions office, 413.552.2321 or

Drug Screening

Mandatory drug screening is required for all students entering the Nursing Program. In addition, random drug screening may be required if indicated. If a student fails a drug screening, retesting occurs within 24 hours of notification of results. Failure to pass a drug screen or refusal to submit to screening will make the student ineligible to remain in the nursing program. Failure and/or refusal for drug screening are grounds for immediate removal from the nursing program. All screening will be at the student's own expense. The Work Connection at Holyoke Medical Center has been selected as the Health Science Division's exclusive laboratory for student drug screening.

All applicants must meet the following requirements at the time of their application:

College Placement Testing (CPT) must be completed within two years of application deadline demonstrating the following placement:

Math Proficiency/Placement: ≥ 82 in Algebra or completion of MTH 095 (Intermediate Algebra) or MTH 099 (Introductory and Intermediate Algebra) comparable with a C- or better from an accredited college or university.

English Proficiency/Placement: ≥ 70 in Reading and ≥ 80 in the Sentence Skills portion of the CPT or ability to enter college level coursework in English. English competency may also be demonstrated through college coursework (completion of English Composition I). 

Science Proficiency: the HCC Biology Department requires the successful completion (C or better) of BIO 100, 103 or BIO 107 prior to taking Anatomy and Physiology. This pre-requisite may be waived by passing the Biology Challenge Exam. Testing may be scheduled by calling the Assessment Center.

Completion of Anatomy and Physiology I and Anatomy and Physiology II prior to the application deadline is strongly encouraged. Nursing students must achieve a C+ or better in all nursing and laboratory sciences courses (A&P I and II and Microbiology) to remain in and graduate from the program. Applicants currently working in a healthcare field can petition to lengthen the time that their laboratory science coursework is transferable to the Nursing Program by completing the Laboratory Science Petition Form in the Nursing Information Packet.

Please see the Nursing Information Packet for important information concerning required documentation and requirements for admission. Applicants for the Nursing Program are reminded that transportation is the responsibility of the student, including to various clinical sites.

HCC's nursing department offers the following support services to help enhance nursing student success:

  • Individualized tutoring, group tutoring, peer tutoring, and exam preparation (Sessions scheduled with the nursing educational specialist, nursing faculty, and peer tutors)
  • Nursing Success Hour (Offered by the nursing educational specialist for at-risk students, oftentimes in the evening, with childcare and food funded by the HCC Foundation)
  • Individualized and group advising (Meetings scheduled with your assigned nursing faculty advisor)
  • Clinical lab workshop (Faculty-run sessions to help remediate learned skills)
  • Open lab (Offered by the skills lab coordinator for nursing students to practice learned skills)
  • Open simulation (Offered by the simulation specialist for nursing students to refine and master basic and complex nursing skills)
  • Individualized support (Access to the nursing success program coordinator, educational specialist and nursing faculty to brainstorm personal and academic challenges and be connected with appropriate resources)

HCC's nursing department also offers nursing student events including:

  • Nursing Program Day (Orientation held after acceptance and prior to starting the program)
  • STAT (Nursing resource team summer preparation program)
  • Open House for nursing students' family and friends
  • Resource Fair
  • Student panels