Mary Carson Breckinridge was a nurse midwife who was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1881. She helped develop American nurse midwifery and championed the importance of bringing nursing care to rural areas. In 1925, she founded the Frontier Nursing Service, a public health organization that sent nurses on horseback to reach families who would otherwise not be able to receive care.

While most of them are no longer riding horses to work, there are nurses working in various locations all over Tennessee: in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics and patients’ homes. Mary Breckinridge’s dream of an America where all people have convenient access to healthcare is closer than ever; if you’d like to become part of that vision, then the information on this page might be able to help you.

Best Nursing Schools in Tennessee

There are 46 schools that offer nursing degree programs in Tennessee. In order to help prospective nurses find the school that suits them best, we at NursingDegrees.com have created two separate rankings of the best nursing schools in the Volunteer State: one for undergraduates, the other for graduates. Using our rankings, prospective nursing students can compare the retention rates, tuition and fees, number of nursing-related programs offered, and other factors of nursing schools in Tennessee.

The data to create these rankings came from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). For more information about our ranking methodology, we encourage you to visit the bottom of this page.

01
Southern Adventist University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Undergraduate tuition
$20,300
Undergraduate graduation rate
61%
Undergraduate retention rate
80%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
02
Lincoln Memorial University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Undergraduate tuition
$20,520
Undergraduate graduation rate
64%
Undergraduate retention rate
70%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
03
Union University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$29,320
Undergraduate graduation rate
68%
Undergraduate retention rate
85%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
04
Lipscomb University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$27,472
Undergraduate graduation rate
58%
Undergraduate retention rate
85%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
98%
05
Baptist Memorial College of Health Scien...
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$9,864
Undergraduate graduation rate
72%
Undergraduate retention rate
75%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
97%
06
Carson-Newman University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$25,200
Undergraduate graduation rate
49%
Undergraduate retention rate
70%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
07
University of Memphis
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$7,488
Undergraduate graduation rate
42%
Undergraduate retention rate
80%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
96%
08
Tennessee State University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$6,216
Undergraduate graduation rate
34%
Undergraduate retention rate
56%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
97%
09
East Tennessee State University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$6,672
Undergraduate graduation rate
40%
Undergraduate retention rate
71%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
96%
10
The University of Tennessee-Martin
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$7,680
Undergraduate graduation rate
50%
Undergraduate retention rate
75%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
97%
01
Union University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
9
Graduate Tuition
$6,870
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
02
Vanderbilt University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
15
Graduate Tuition
$44,496
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
03
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Graduate Tuition
$11,044
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
04
East Tennessee State University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$7,992
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
05
Southern Adventist University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Graduate Tuition
$11,070
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
06
The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$8,100
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
07
Carson-Newman University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$8,580
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
08
Tennessee Technological University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$9,200
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
09
University of Memphis
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$8,820
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
10
King University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$9,024
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1

Nursing Accreditation in Tennessee

While acceptance rate, graduation rate and other such factors are certainly important, possibly the most important quality for a nursing school to have is accreditation. Students attending an accredited nursing school in Tennessee can benefit in multiple ways: they may be able to apply for financial aid that is reserved for accredited schools, and they should have an easier time transferring credits from one accredited school to another. An accredited school can also lend extra clout to your resume after graduation, helping graduates earn positions in their field.

The major nursing school accreditation agencies in Tennessee are:

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME)

Tennessee Nursing Licensure

To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Tennessee, students are required to earn a degree or certificate from an LPN program that is approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. These programs typically take 12 to 18 months to complete. Once a student has obtained an LPN degree or certificate, they must sit for and pass the NCLEX-PN exam.

Aspiring registered nurses (RNs) in Tennessee need to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from a nursing degree program that has been approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. They are also required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Finally, those who are looking to become a nurse practitioner (NP) in Tennessee must complete a graduate nursing program and pass the national NP certification exam.

Tennessee Nursing Organizations

Nursing students as well as working nurses in Tennessee may benefit from joining some of Tennessee’s professional nursing organizations. Here is a brief overview of some of these organizations and what they might be able to offer Tennessee nurses.

  • Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA):

    Ever since this association was formed in 1905, its mission has been to serve as the “professional voice” for RNs in Tennessee. Their efforts allowed passage of the first Tennessee nurse practice act in 1911, and they continue to update the nurse practice act in order to support and protect nursing in the Volunteer State.

  • Tennessee Organization of Nurse Executives (TONE):

    TONE was designed to promote and develop nursing leadership in Tennessee. Members must be Tennessee-licensed RNs who work as nursing managers, nursing instructors, nurse consultants, members of JCAHO, or editors of professional nursing journals. However, RNs enrolled in nursing manager degree programs may also be eligible.

  • Northeast Tennessee Nurse Practitioners Association (NETNPA):

    NETNPA is an NP-focused organization that addresses nursing education, legislative issues and professional experiences. Their monthly meetings serve as educational seminars, and some even qualify as continuing education in the state.

  • Middle Tennessee Advanced Practice Nurses (MTAPN):

    MTAPN is an organization of nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists. The organization serves as a hub for resources such as continuing education, legislative activism and scholarship awards.

TENNESSEE-SPECIFIC CONTINUING EDUCATION

Requirements for maintaining a nursing license in Tennessee are fairly flexible. There is a list of competency requirements that must be renewed every two years; LPNs and RNs may select two items from this list to satisfy compliance requirements for their license. This list includes items such as a satisfactory employer evaluation, a written self-evaluation, publishing a nursing-relevant article, or evidence of five contact hours of continuing education. For LPNs or RNs who are not practicing, 10 contact hours may be required instead of five.

NPs or APRNs have slightly different standards to meet. They must satisfy only one of the items from the LPN/ RN list rather than two. However, they must also maintain current national certification — not state licensure, but national. In addition, NPs and APRNs with a Certificate of Fitness must fulfill two contact hours of continuing education addressing controlled substance prescribing practices, and must provide a current Collaborative Request/ APRN Supervisory Request if prescribing medication.

Because continuing education requirements can change on short notice, be sure to double-check what may be required of you at the Tennessee Board of Nursing.

Hospitals in Tennessee

Hospitals can be sources of experience, skills and knowledge for nurses of all levels, from nursing students to entry-level nurses to nurses who have been working in the field for several years. The three largest hospitals in Tennessee are as follows:

  1. Methodist University Hospital (Memphis): Methodist University Hospital is the principal teaching hospital of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and the largest hospital in the Methodist Healthcare system as of 2018. Some of the service centers they maintain cannot be found elsewhere in the Mid-South.
  2. Vanderbilt University Hospital (Nashville): Vanderbilt University Hospital works with other hospitals and clinicians across Tennessee and neighboring states through the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network. They implanted Tennessee’s first artificial heart in September 2018.
  3. Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis (Memphis): Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis is located on the 80-acre East Memphis campus of Baptist Memorial Health Care. The hospital offers amenities such as counseling for patients, a chapel, interpretation services and the Ann L. and Joseph H. Powell Library.
Sources & Methodology

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we ranked 6,758 United States institutions with two different methodologies, in order to create two different lists: our undergraduate list and our graduate list. Final data for the 2016-17 school year was used for these rankings. (Schools that did not provide data for all 11 criteria were disqualified from the ranking.)

The 11 criteria for the undergraduate school ranking were as follows:

  1. Number of associate-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of associate-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of associate-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Average amount of federal grant aid awarded to full-time first-time undergraduates
  8. Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
  9. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  10. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  11. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

The graduate school ranking scored schools based on 9 criteria, different from the undergraduate list. These 9 criteria were as follows:

  1. Number of master’s-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of master’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of master’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  8. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  9. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools’ tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

 

Sources

  1. American Hospital Directory, Accessed August 2018, https://www.ahd.com/
  2. Mary Breckinridge, The Truth About Nursing, Accessed August 2018, https://www.truthaboutnursing.org/press/pioneers/breckinridge.html
  3. Board of Nursing, Tennessee Department of Health, Accessed August 2018, https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/health-professional-boards/nursing-board/nursing-board/continuing-education.html
  4. Tennessee Nurses Association, Accessed August 2018, https://www.tnaonline.org/
  5. Tennessee Organization of Nurse Executives, Tennessee Hospital Association, Accessed August 2018, https://tha.com/tennessee-organization-of-nurse-executives-tone/
  6. Northeast Tennessee Nurse Practitioners Association, Accessed August 2018, https://netnpa.enpnetwork.com/
  7. Middle Tennessee Advanced Practice Nurses, Accessed August 2018, http://www.mtapn.org
  8. Methodist University Hospital, Methodist Healthcare, Accessed August 2018, http://www.methodisthealth.org/locations/methodist-university-hospital/
  9. Vanderbilt Health, Accessed August 2018, https://vanderbilthealth.com/
  10. “Vanderbilt implants Tennessee’s first artificial heart,” VUMC Reporter, Accessed October 2018, http://news.vumc.org/2018/09/27/vanderbilt-implants-tennessees-first-artificial-heart/
  11. Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, Baptist, Accessed August 2018, https://www.baptistonline.org/locations/memphis

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