Georgia boasts more than 20 practical nursing programs, most of them at technical colleges. With so many options, geography will likely not be the sole criteria! The following is a guide for selection.
The one essential is that the program be authorized to conduct a nursing program. The Board has provided a list of approved programs. Click here to view the list.
Georgia students should be prepared for a selective admission process. This helps assure that most nursing students are capable of meeting standards and becoming licensed. It also determines who gets a seat when spaces are limited. There is typically an examination which assesses basic skills and academic aptitude. Students often have to take a few prerequisite courses before they are admitted to the nursing program.
While there is some similarity from program to program, individual schools determine which test they will use and what procedures they will follow if there is a surplus of qualified applicants. The good news is that a qualified candidate will generally not be waitlisted – and candidates who are not admitted on a first attempt can take steps to make themselves more competitive.
Students who complete LPN program must pass the NCLEX-PN before they can be licensed. Thus prospective students may want to consider how well the program will prepare them for the examination.
Georgia, like many states, publishes the percentage of candidates who pass the exam on their first attempt. The Board has provided four years of testing data for approved programs, as well as a four-year average. There are a number of Georgia programs that boast average pass rates over 95%.
A prospective student may also consider the completion rate. A low percentage of completers can mean a lack of academic resources. It can also reflect on the institution's admission policies. A student may be unable to complete the clinical requirements for various reasons, including having a criminal background.
Some students complete programs and then struggle to find employment. This is partly a reflection of economic conditions in the area. Some programs, though, do a better job than others at preparing nurses for the workforce. They may also enjoy better reputations in the community. Students may consider the available career resources as well as the percentage of recent graduates who are successfully placed.
The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is a nationally recognized organization that accredits programs that meet a rigorous set of standards; the accrediting committee visits each school periodically to make sure it is in compliance. Accreditation by ACEN is not a requirement for licensure. However, it does indicate program quality. Three Georgia LPN programs currently hold this accreditation (http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm).
Programs are also differentiated by scheduling options: whether they are full-time or part-time, include day-time or evening courses, and are held year-round or only during the traditional school year. Some schools note that it is difficult to be both a student and a full-time worker.
Prospective students must consider not only the academic courses but also the clinical rotations. Students are generally expected to provide their own transportation to healthcare sites, so they may want to ask where these are held.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Georgia's licensed practical nurses earn, on average, $17.81 an hour or $37, 040 a year (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm). However, it can take some time to secure a position and work up to this figure. Financial aid can be crucial.
Some Georgia LPN programs are approved as training programs through the Workforce Initiative Act (https://www.workreadyga.org/vosnet/drills/program/eduprogdrill.aspx?session=progdetail&geo=1301000000&zip=&radius=). Other sources of funding include federal Pell Grants and Stafford Loans.
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