Choosing a nursing program. This is an essential item on the path to becoming licensed as a Registered Nurse in Indiana. There are many other things to consider along the way to ensure that you have a positive experience, complete your program on time, and have the option of transferring credits to a higher level program. Here are some of the most critical consideration when choosing an RN program in Indiana.
Your program must be accredited. The most essential accreditation is state accreditation. Indiana accredits pre-licensure programs at the undergraduate level. Find them here: (http://www.in.gov/pla/2490.htm).
Indiana accredits programs, not universities. The Board notes that most Indiana programs are at schools that have regional accreditation through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Nationwide, regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation (which is often granted to trade schools). Graduating from a regionally accredited school can make it easier to go on to graduate school.
There are two additional nationally recognized accrediting agencies that accredit professional nursing programs: the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, ACEN, (formerly the NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE. CCNE only accredits programs at the baccalaureate (BSN) level and higher.
The Indiana Center for Nursing includes a list of programs accredited by ACEN and CCNE (http://www.ic4n.org/nursing-education/indiana-accredited-schools-of-nursing/).
Associate (ASN) and BSN programs both lead to the same license (provided that all other requirements are met). However, national organizations like the institute of Medicine (IOM) have argued for the BSN becoming the standard or at least for most professional nurses having education at this level. If the program is properly accredited, it can be relatively easy to transfer credits later. However, higher degrees often put candidates at a hiring advantage; this may be felt strongly when economic conditions are poor and nurses are not leaving the job market at the expected rate.
There are second degree options for students who already have a bachelor’s degree (http://www.ic4n.org/nursing-education/accelerated-programs/).
Whatever the level of the registered nursing program, a candidate will take the NCLEX examination at the same level. Indiana includes satisfactory examination rates among the conditions for maintaining accreditation. The minimum rate is one standard deviation below the national average. When a program scores below this three years running, a corrective plan will be required. Failure to correct the situation could result in closure. A prospective student does not have to wait for this to happen, however. NCLEX first time pass rates are public record and are posted on the Board site (http://www.in.gov/pla/2490.htm). One can also see the total number of students who passed in a given year.
A prospective nursing student will also need to consider his or her chances of getting into the desired program. Even community colleges sometimes choose selective admission (a point system).
Typical admission requirements are test scores (TEAS, SAT, ACT, COMPASS) and grades in prerequisite courses, including science. An essay may be required.
An applicant may begin the search for schools without waitlists at the Discover Nursing site (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters). It is also advisable to check with individual programs as some programs have moved away from having waitlists.
The cost of nursing school will vary according to length and whether the school is proprietary or nonprofit.
Nursing students are eligible for nursing scholarships as well as general grants. A list of state and federal financial aid resources is available on the site of the Indiana Center for Nursing (http://www.ic4n.org/nursing-education/financial-aid/).
The mean wage for RNs in Indiana is $57,520, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It will take most nurses some time to reach this level.
The Indiana Center for Nursing has put together a list of resources for individuals choosing nursing programs (http://www.ic4n.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Accreditation-REV-5.13.pdf).
Indiana Board of Nursing http://www.in.gov/pla/nursing.htm
Indiana Nurses Association http://www.indiananurses.org
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