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Choosing an RN Program in South Carolina

South Carolina has many successful nursing programs. Here is a guide to selecting the one(s) that will best meet your needs.

ADN vs. BSN

Some professional nursing (RN) programs confer an associate’s degree (ADN) while others confer a bachelor’s (BSN). A student will need to balance the added expense and slight delay in entering the workforce with the potential benefits. Trident Technical College notes that while there is some BSN preference, ADN programs may enjoy good placement rates and that an ADN who has a plan to pursue a BSN in the future can be an attractive candidate to many hospitals (http://www.tridenttech.edu/Rumor-vs-Reality.pdf).

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Licensing Examination Pass Rates in SC

NCLEX-RN scores are often given consideration. While pass rates may be affected by admission and retention policies, a serious or repeated deficiency raises questions about instruction. South Carolina programs vary a good deal with regard to pass rate (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/Nursing/index.asp?file=NurPrograms.htm).

Programmatic Accreditation

Students may also consider accreditation. Many, but not all, South Carolina programs hold programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/ccne-accreditation/accredited-programs) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (http://acenursing.org). Students can check accreditation status by visiting the website of either accrediting agency.

South Carolina has a mandated articulation agreement that makes it easy for ADNs to enter BSN completion programs (https://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/articulation-agreements). In some places, though, graduates of accredited programs have an easier time transferring credits. Programmatic accreditation is separate from institutional accreditation and does not impact a student’s ability to get financial aid.

The Admission Process

Some South Carolina programs are open to all students who meet stated requirements (for example, test scores and GPA). The minimum GPA may be as low as 2.0. The downside is that a student who has completed prerequisites may have another year or two to wait before enrolling in nursing coursework.

Many South Carolina programs utilize a competitive admission process. Grades are the primary determining factor at some schools. Others, though, take many factors into account. The program will generally not be able to tell a student the cut-off scores in advance, but may offer general advice. If a student is waitlisted at a nursing school with a competitive process, it generally means that they were not one of the top candidates but that they may be given a seat if some admitted students do not enroll. It is sometimes more difficult for a transfer student to gain admission than for a student who has completed their prerequisites at the school.

Should identifying programs without waitlists become a problem, prospective students may consult the Johnson & Johnson site (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters)

Out-of-State Programs

The South Carolina Board accepts pre-licensure programs that include online courses (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/Nursing/pdf/FAQforEdu.pdf). Prospective students must make sure that the program has been approved by the board of the state where it is located. The South Carolina Board notes that the way to make sure that a program has been approved by some state board is to check that it has been assigned a NCLEX code.

The Board further notes that any out-of-state program that is supervising clinical experiences in South Carolina must have permission.

Paying for Nursing School

Students may qualify for various need-based financial aid programs, for example, Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, South Carolina Need-Based Grants, and/ or Stafford Loans.

Some students opt for tuition payment plans so they can pay in small installments without being charged interest. Work study is another option. South Carolina RNs enjoy a mean wage of $58,940, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm). What a nurse actually earns will depend on many factors, including experience, educational level, specialty, and geographic location.

Resources

RN License Requirements in South Carolina

South Carolina Board of Nursing

South Carolina Nurses Association

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