There are nine schools offering practical nursing programs in Nebraska; some have multiple campuses. In a state as spread out as Nebraska, geography will play a role. What else should you take into consideration when choosing a program?
You should check that any program you are considering is state approved. A list of programs approved in Nebraska can be found on the site of the Department of Health and Human Services (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/crl_nursing_rn-lpn_edprograms.aspx).
Accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is an additional validation of program quality. Currently two Nebraska LPN programs have ACEN accreditation (http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm).
While LPN programs typically have less stringent requirements than RN programs, there is selectivity. Candidates may need to take an examination (ACT, COMPASS, TEAS, or ASSET). There may also be a few prerequisites.
Some schools accept all candidates who make it through the application process and are deemed qualified. This can lead to some being placed on a waiting list. Prospective students will want to ask schools abut admission timeline and balance this information against cost and other factors.
In some instances, it is mandatory to attend an information session. This may even be a criteria for being placed on the list. Attendance is an opportunity to get questions answered and is advisable even when not mandated.
One consideration is the on-time completion rate. If a significant percentage of students are falling behind or not completing the program, you may want to know the reasons.
Another consideration is NCLEX-PN pass rate. However well a student does in the academic program, he or she will need to pass a national board examination before licensing. A strong program will have most individuals ready for the exam by completion.
A prospective Nebraska LPN may earn a certificate in as little as nine months. However, a student who needs to balance work or family responsibilities may opt for a less intensive part-time program. Some programs have year round classes. The program may stretch out over as much as eight quarters.
An LPN must be a Licensed Practical Nurse Certified to do IV work in Nebraska. This requires a board approved course as well as a state examination. A list of approved courses is available on the site and may be viewed by clicking here.
Programs vary in cost. Some community colleges charge tuition and fees in the $6,000 to $8,000 range; private colleges often cost several thousand more -- sometimes far more. Financial aid is available to needy students. Federal financial aid includes Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and for those who demonstrate exceptional need, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that licensed practical nurses average $18.19 an hour or $37,840 a year in Nebraska in 2012. It often takes a few years of experience to reach the mean salary. Geography is also a factor. Individual colleges may be a source of information about starting salaries in their locale. Southeast Community College, for example, reports that LPN graduates average $15.40 per hour, but some make as much as $20 (https://www.southeast.edu/PracticalNursing).
It can feel difficult to search for that first position. As a prospective LPN, you may wish to ask about career services and placement rates at schools you are considering. Assuming you make it out into the nursing workforce, chances are good you will like your career. The vast majority of Nebraska LPNs report that were they beginning their career now, they would still choose nursing (http://www.center4nursing.com/nebraskanursingworkforce.shtml).
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