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Choosing an LPN Program in South Carolina

If you want to become an LPN in South Carolina, select an approved program. The state boasts fifteen. Most are at technical colleges. However, there are some other options, including programs housed at technology centers or universities. Here is a guide for selecting.

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NCLEX Pass Rates in SC

While schools may have different policies for grading, all diploma holders must eventually pass the same exam: the NCLEX-PN. This is a licensing requirement. Prospective students often take a program’s pass rate into consideration. The South Carolina Board has posted a full five years of pass rate data by program (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/Nursing/index.asp?file=NurPrograms.htm). While pass rates give some indication of program quality, they should not be the sole criteria for ranking. A program that has tougher admission and retention policies can end up having higher pass rates.

Graduation and Placement Rates

Students may also be interested in the graduation rate. This may offer some clue as to how the program is doing at identifying and supporting students who are struggling. (Students may drop out for many reasons, though, including finances and family obligations.)

Programs are not always required to make public the placement rate – the percentage of students who got jobs in the field within a short period after graduation. If the placement rate is very high, though, schools may choose to brag!

Program-Level Accreditation

Many of South Carolina’s nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN, an organization formerly known as the NLNAC. Program-level accreditation is not necessarily an expectation at the practical nursing level, but is an additional testament to program quality. Students can do a search for accredited programs on the ACEN site (http://acenursing.org).

Transfer of Credits and Articulation to Higher Programs

Not all programs award academic credit. However, South Carolina has an articulation model in place whereby LPNs can expect to get some credit if they later enroll in an RN (professional nursing) program.

Scheduling and Transportation

Students will also need to consider some practical issues. Even when the total instructional hours are similar, the number of semesters may vary. Students generally need to provide transportation not only to the main campus but to healthcare facilities in the vicinity.

Taking Cost into Consideration

The cost for tuition, fees, and the required materials will run about $10,000 at one of the state’s technical colleges. Students may use grants, loans, or work study to offset costs. Eligibility for many need-based programs can only be determined by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Some South Carolina programs are WIA-eligible. This means that individuals who been displaced may receive funding (in addition to services like job counseling).

The Admission Process

Although nursing is a growing profession, nursing schools typically don’t have the budget or the clinical sites to accept all qualified applicants. South Carolina LPN schools have different ways of handling demand. One is by placing some qualified applicants on a waitlist. The other is by instituting a competitive admission process. Students may be given a score based on things like test scores and performance in prerequisite courses. Some schools have a hybrid model, where the timeframe depends on one’s qualifications. (Some slots may be filled by students who have applied by “merit”, others by students who met minimum requirements and were placed on a waitlist.) Proprietary schools charge more than state supported schools, but are often able to admit more students.

Information Sessions

Schools hold information sessions to help prospective students understand the admission process and determine whether the program is a good fit. In some instances, these sessions are mandatory.

Resources

LPN License Requirements in South Carolina

South Carolina Board of Nursing

South Carolina LPN Association

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