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Choosing an LPN Program in Massachusetts

It can feel great to be accepted into an LPN program. It feels better to graduate and get that first job. Programs aren't necessarily equal. Here's a guide to choosing an LPN program in Massachusetts.

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The Essentials: MA State Approval

The one essential criteria is state approval. Programs that appear on the Health and Human Services website have Massachusetts approval. Click here to see these programs.

Health and Human Services has issued a warning about programs that are not approved. (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/dhpl/nursing/education/illegal-nursing-programs.html). These programs are not license-qualifying.

Examination Pass Rates

Examination pass rates can be an important consideration. Whatever program you attend, either in Massachusetts or another state, you will need to pass the same examination: the NCLEX-PN. The Office of Health and Human Services has made five years of pass rates available (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/researcher/physical-health/nursing/nclex/). They are arranged by year and ordered from highest to lowest -- with quite a few programs boasting an impressive 100% (at least in some years).

It's a good idea to check out more than one year and to pay attention to the total number of students taking the exam. If only a few took the exam in a given year, the percentage may not be very meaningful (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/researcher/physical-health/nursing/nclex/).

Other Considerations

You may consider the school’s admission policies and how easy it will be to get a slot. Some Massachusetts programs admit all students who meet the stated requirements. You may know that you will get training, but not know when. You will find waiting lists, potentially long ones, at many Massachusetts schools.

You may use the search function on the Discover Nursing site to locate those without – but also ask around as some programs may not be listed (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters).

You may also want to consider the program completion rate. Many students who begin practical nursing training don’t earn their certificate or diploma. A low completion rate may reflect a lack of academic support services. The school’s selectivity can also be a factor.

When searching for a school, consider both your academic needs and your responsibilities outside school. Should you opt for full-time or part-time coursework? How far will you need to travel to get to your clinical placement site?

You may also consider the resources that are available, academic and otherwise. Does the nursing school have a state-of-the-art clinical laboratory? Is there a library and computer lab?

Paying for Nursing School in Massachusetts

Another consideration is cost. Not-for-profit schools are often less expensive than proprietary schools. You will not necessarily pay the full cost of the program. If your school is properly accredited and you meet minimum course requirements, you may receive government financial aid. Financial need is one of the requirements.

Some Massachusetts LPN programs are eligible for funding through the Workforce Initiative Act (WIA). This program is for adults who have lost jobs or businesses as well as for displaced homemakers.

A person can do a search to find out what's available in their region of the state by clicking here. Low income individuals are given first priority. Eligible individuals will receive career counseling as well as (potentially) funding for job training. Other potential sources of funding include Pell Grants and subsidized loans.

Beyond the Diploma

Massachusetts LPNs earn an average $25.03 an hour or $52,060 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Students should recognize that experience is a factor in determining earnings and wages vary by metropolitan area and region of the state. Schools can be a source of information about entry-level earnings. MassBay Community College, for example, reports the average entry-level salary as $15 an hour (http://www.massbay.edu/Academics/Health-Sciences/Nursing-Program/Practical-Nursing-Program.aspx).

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing

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