Choosing an LPN Program in Colorado

There are many practical nursing programs in Colorado. Picking one that works for you can mean you’re more likely to complete the program on-time and get your career underway.

One essential is state approval. A list of approved programs is available on the Board site (http://cdn.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DORA-Reg/CBON/DORA/1251632604231). All of these programs have met high quality standards – Colorado requires that nursing programs achieve accreditation by Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) within a specified period of time after approval.

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Another consideration is whether there is a waitlist. The following are other things to take into account when making a choice.

Types of LPN Programs

There are two distinctly different types of practical nursing program in Colorado. The first category is standard LPN certificate programs. The other is associate level/ RN programs that have an LPN exit option. There are now a number of these within the state.

A nursing student who opts for the latter will have some prerequisites to complete before beginning nursing coursework. Typical prerequisites include anatomy and physiology, biology, and algebra as well as college competition. LPN programs may have prerequisites, but they tend to be more modest.

A student who does not opt for a multi-exit program will not lose the opportunity to complete a degree and earn a higher degree or even to receive some credit. However, the process may not be quite as streamlined or quick.

Test Scores

Nurses across the nation are required to pass the NCLEX licensing examination. Pass rates are seen as one indicator of program success. The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence notes that Colorado programs should have rates of 75% or higher (http://www.coloradonursingcenter.org/documents/Nursing%20program%20questions.pdf).

Pass rates for graduates taking the examination for the first time are found on the Board site – they are listed separately for certificate and LPN exit programs. In some cases, as many as six years of testing data is shown. Some schools routinely post figures of 100% or at least well into the 90s.

Some schools – or some years – may not show testing data. The Board has opted not to publish pass rates when the total number of students taking the examination was ten or less.

Financial Considerations

The Bureau of Lab Statistics reports an average salary of $44,750 LPNs. It can take time to reach this figure and the cost of a practical nursing education can seem daunting.

Community colleges may offer programs for under $10,000 while proprietary schools run higher. The Pell Grant is a readily available form of financial aid as is the subsidized Stafford loan.

There are various financial incentives for unemployed and displaced workers. Workers who are unemployed may want to visit a workforce center to see what options are available (http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDLE-EmployTrain/CDLE/1248095319018).

Of course loans and out-of-pocket costs feel less daunting if you have a job soon after completion. Students may want to ask what percentage of those who complete the program have jobs six months after graduation.

It’s also important to remember that not all who begin programs complete them. You may also ask about academic support.

Practical Concerns

Scheduling is another consideration. There are options geared toward working adults. Students may have the option of taking classes in the evening and even doing clinical rotations on the weekends.

Additional Information

Nursing schools typically hold information sessions where one can learn the basics and get their questions answered. It is a good idea to attend one, even when it is not mandated. The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence has prepared a list of additional questions to ask (http://www.coloradonursingcenter.org/documents/Nursing%20program%20questions.pdf).

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Colorado

Career Resource: Becoming an LPN in Colorado

Colorado Board of Nursing http://cdn.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite

Colorado Nurses Association hhttps://www.coloradonurses.org/

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