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Choosing an LPN Program in Arizona

There's just one essential for a person looking for practical nursing education: A prospective LPN must select a Board-approved program (https://www.azbn.gov/education/nursing-programs-lists/). If an Arizona program appears on the list on the Board site, it is license-qualifying and perfectly acceptable -- as long as a person meets admission requirements and finds a spot.

This doesn't mean that all programs are equal, however. Programs are offered by a variety of institutions, including technical institutes and community colleges. Among the things that vary: the attrition rate and the hiring statistics. Not all students who make the investment complete the program and go on to complete the program and become nurses.

Here are some things to evaluate when choosing an Arizona program.

Articulation Options

Many LPNs eventually pursue an RN license. Some Arizona programs are multi-exit. A student may opt to take the NCLEX-PN or continue on for an RN.

Program Accreditation

Accreditation means that a school or program has met the standards of a recognized third party organization. The Arizona Board has provided a fact sheet to help students understand how accreditation and approval may affect future career options (https://www.azbn.gov/education/nursing-programs-lists/).

All Arizona programs hold institutional level accreditation. This may be national or regional (https://www.azbn.gov/education/nursing-programs-lists/). The Board notes that credits transfer more easily from school to school when an institution is regionally accredited. (However, since practical nursing programs are short and don’t include a lot of general education coursework, this may be less of a concern than it would be at a higher level.)

No Arizona practical nursing programs have programmatic accreditation. Some multi-exit (LPN/RN) programs are accredited by the ACEN.

Admission Requirements

Most programs require a pre-nursing admission test which maybe HESI or TEAS; there is some variation in minimum score. Most programs at this level do not have prerequisites, but there are some exceptions. Multi-exit programs, on the other hand, typically do have prerequisites: courses like college algebra, biology, and psychology. They may also set test score requirements higher.

Most schools require a background check and drug testing. Some schools require previous nursing assistant certification or coursework. Arizona lists admission data by approved program, but notes to check with individual schools as some information may not be current. (https://www.azbn.gov/education/about-us)

Timeline

Prospective students should be aware that some programs do have waitlists; there may also only be a couple short windows a year when applications will be accepted, even for the waitlist.

Prospective students may also want to consider whether students are indeed completing the program and doing so on the timeline indicated. 2012 on-time graduation rates ranged from 27% to 83% by program. The state on-time completion rate average for practical nursing programs is 54% (https://www.azbn.gov/education/nursing-programs-lists/).

Test Scores

In order to be licensed as an LPN, a graduate will need to take and pass the NCLEX-PN. Candidates will be glad to know that the average score in Arizona is well above the national average. The Board publishes test scores by program (https://www.azbn.gov/education/arizona-nclex-pass-rates)

Financial Considerations

Costs vary greatly from program to program in Arizona. In some cases, residents of a particular county are given lower rates.

Students are eligible for general financial aid like the Pell Grant; under normal circumstances, this does not have to be repaid.

Some Arizona LPN programs are available for funding through the Workforce Initiative Act (https://www.azjobconnection.gov/ders/ea/wcmrs/services/schools/schsearch.cfm). However, they are not necessarily the cheapest programs.

Those who succeed are financially rewarded. The average salary for an LPN in Arizona is $50,290, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entry-level workers generally have salaries somewhat below the mean.

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Arizona

Career Overview: Becoming an LPN in Arizona

Arizona State Board of Nursing https://www.azbn.gov/

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