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Choosing an LPN Program in Florida

A Florida LPN must complete an approved or accredited program. Programs that are accredited by ACEN – a respected national organization – are not subject to state regulation, but still appear on the list of practical nursing programs on the Board site (http://floridasnursing.gov/education-and-training-programs/).

Accredited or approved: This offers a lot of options.

Getting into a Program

The first hurdle: finding a spot in a program. The good news is there are a lot of practical nursing programs in Florida that don’t have wait lists. The bad news is this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to get in. Some programs admit a minority of applicants.

Academic requirements are generally set a good deal lower than they are for registered nursing programs. However, schools may take into account grade point average. An admission test may be required. In some cases, the admission process includes an interview. The decision may be based partly on references.

Success Rates

All practical nursing candidates must pass the NCLEX-PN to be license-eligible – otherwise nursing school is for naught. Passing on a first attempt is a money-saver. Florida takes pass rates into consideration and places programs on probationary approval status if their first-time pass rates fall too far below the national average for two consecutive years. Pass rates are public record and nursing students may want to take them into consideration.

The Florida Board posts pass rates on a quarterly basis (http://floridasnursing.gov/education-and-training-programs/). The percentage is of course less meaningful if only a few students take the examination in a given period. It is possible to see a couple years of pass rates by selecting the schools under consideration from the list of LPN programs and then selecting “compare”.

One other piece of “hard data” the Board makes public: retention rates. This is the percentage of students who actually complete the program.

The Cost of an LPN School in Florida

Fees are variable. There are multiple Florida programs in the $8,000 to $12,000 range. Proprietary schools often cost more than state schools.

Fees don’t necessarily come out-of-pocket. One option is the Pell grant, a federal grant. Individual institutions may also offer grants. Students will file a FAFSA to establish financial need. Those who make the nursing school decision as high school seniors may be eligible for other financial aid through the Bright Futures Scholarship program (http://ss.flvc.org/flvc/portal/Home_Page/My%20Records/myRecords.highSchoolStudents/Bright_Futures_Scholarship_Eligibility_Evaluation).

What can one eventually earn? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Florida’s licensed practical nurses averaged $41,050 a year in 2012. Salary tends to go up some with years of experience, so a beginning nurse will usually start out at a lower figure.

Convenience

It’s not just the quality of the instruction – or even the tuition – that determines whether an individual will make it through nursing school. There is also the question of how nursing school fits in with other obligations like family. Classes may be held in the daytime or evening, full- or part-time.

Florida does approve practical nursing programs where classroom instruction is carried out online. Nurses will still need to go out into the field to do their clinical rotations.

Articulation between Programs

Florida has an articulation agreement that can make it easy for LPNs who complete approved programs to get credit for entry-level nursing courses if they choose to enroll in associate level professional nursing programs later. However, there are some contingencies. Therefore nursing students who find themselves with multiple options may want to inquire about articulation.

On the other hand, it’s not critical. Practical nursing programs don’t include a lot of general education coursework, and in the best case scenario, one will get credit for just a few nursing classes.

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Florida

LPN Career Path: Becoming an LPN in Florida

Florida Board of Nursing http://floridasnursing.gov/education-and-training-programs/

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