Choosing an LPN Program in Idaho

Prospective Idaho LPNs have a variety of options, with practical nursing programs housed at both public and private institutions. Cost and location are obvious issues. What else should you consider before enrolling?

Approval and Accreditation

It is essential that a program be state approved or authorized. Accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is an extra validation of program quality, but is less fundamental (http://acenursing.org/).

The Admission Process

Demand often exceeds available seats. LPN programs may institute point systems to determine who gets in. Candidates often need to take a few prerequisite courses; maintaining a strong GPA can help them make the cut. The TEAS admission test is a common requirement.

It’s important to remember that it’s not all about academics. Being a resident of a particular county may award you some points. Some schools value nursing assistant certification. Some schools use an interview to make the final cut. Some practical nursing programs choose to be more inclusive but to institute a waitlist. And some simply have more available seats, though there may be trade-offs, like higher tuition.

NCLEX-PN Testing Data

The NCLEX-PN is a licensing requirement. You may want to consider a program’s track record in preparing its students for this exam.

While NCLEX-PN pass rates can help identify strong programs, they shouldn’t be the sole criteria. They may also reflect admission and retention policies.

Idaho LPN Employment Data

You may also be interested in the program’s gainful employment data. The report typically includes the percentage who made it through to program completion as well as the percentage of program completers who were hired within a specified time period.

LPN programs sometimes have high attrition rates. Despite selectivity in the admission process, students find portions of the program challenging. A high completion rate can mean that the school is doing a good job of identifying those who need extra support and providing it.

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The Nursing Career Ladder

Nursing has a career ladder. You may want to consider how easy it will be later to complete a degree and achieve a higher level of licensing. Some schools offer both LPN and associate-level ADN programs. Idaho allows students who begin RN programs to exit early and test as LPNs. However, this could preclude licensure in some other states.

Clinical Rotations

An LPN education includes clinical practice as well as coursework. Most programs utilize multiple facilities. You may want to ask where clinical rotations are located, when they take place, and how placements will be determined.

Financial Considerations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Idaho LPNs average $18.49 an hour (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm). This can feel a long way off, though, when you first begin a program. While some Idaho LPN programs charge around $7,000 for tuition, fees, and books, others run substantially more.

You may want to consider what financial aid opportunities are available at your institution. Practical nursing students at accredited colleges and universities are often eligible for need-based Pell Grants; students with the highest financial aid may also receive Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) through participating institutions.

Some students are eligible for other moneys based on military status or other life circumstances. Students with high grades may be eligible for health service scholarships through their own school.

Many students do need to take out governmental loans. Information about average debt load can generally be found in a school’s gainful employment report.

Practical Concerns

The scheduling of classes and the total number of semesters may be among the deciding factors. Students who do not live within commuting distance may want to consider campus housing options.

Resources

Idaho Board of Nursing http://ibn.idaho.gov/IBNPortal/

Practical Nursing License Requirements in Idaho

A career overview: Becoming an LPN in Idaho

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