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Choosing an LPN Program in Connecticut

Connecticut has seventeen approved practical nursing programs (http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3143&q=388916). They are designed to meet a variety of needs, including those of adult learners. Some schools have both day and evening options. Some schools admit a new class as many as four times a year while others admit students only once every 18 months. Some maintain short wait lists.

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All these factors, along with geography, can influence enrollment decisions. What else should a prospective practical nursing student take into account? How does one pick a program that will prepare them for success?

Getting into a Program

Academic requirements are lower at the practical nursing level. There are usually no formal academic prerequisites. There is selectivity, though, even at the entry level of nursing. Requirements vary by program. An entrance exam is often required. In some instances, applicants go through an essay and interview process. Some admission requirements may pose more of a hurdle than others.

Test Scores and Other Quality Indicators

LPN candidates across the nation must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). First time pass rates can be an indicator of a sound program, though selective admission can also be a factor. In general, Connecticut programs have good pass rates – the state requires an 80% pass rate to maintain full approval. Pass rates are posted by program on the Board site.

Candidates may also consider the attrition rate – the percentage of students who drop out along the way. At some schools, it is more than 25%. The Board publishes this information in the practical nurse educational program statistics (http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/phho/nursing_board/practical_nurse_educational_programs_statistics_reporting_sheet_2013.pdf).

Prospective students may also be interested in the educational level and qualifications of instructors, and in the program facilities.

Articulation between Programs

Articulation options – opportunities to transfer credits to a higher program – are generally not an issue when choosing between LPN programs in Connecticut. The state has a mandated articulation agreement; associate’s programs will award a minimum number of units to a licensed LPN without regard to which school practical nursing training was completed at. (The nurse does have to meet admission standards, however.)

Paying for Nursing School

There are programs that run less than $12,000, but some cost much more. The full cost of nursing school does not necessarily come directly out of pocket. Practical nursing students are often eligible for federal aid in the form of Pell grants and subsidized Stafford loans. Some schools offer their own scholarships. Prior to enrolling, a student generally fills out an FAFSA.

Some schools are approved for funding through the Workforce Initiative Act (WIA). However, these are schools that carry a fairly steep price tag and may not be feasible without multiple sources of financial aid.

What can a nurse expect to get back from the investment? The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists $25.7 an hour, or $53,560 a year, as the average wage for Connecticut’s licensed practical nurses. Experienced LPNs make more, so new graduates can expect to start below the mean.

Landing that first position sometimes poses a challenge. A prospective student may want to consider gainful employment data: What percentage of students went on to be employed in the field within a short period of time after graduation?

One may also ask about employment services: What support will the college provide when it comes to helping a person develop job search skills and actually secure a position?

Cautions

A school that has conditional approval can be a caution. In Connecticut, this can mean that the program has not met all standards or requirements. It can also mean that there have been major changes to the curriculum.

Resources

Board of Examiners for Nursing http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3143&q=388910

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