Choosing an LPN Program in Kentucky
Geography is often a big consideration for individuals beginning practical nursing education. The Kentucky Board knows this; they have provided a tool that lets individuals search for LPN programs by county and by city.
Programs are distinguished, though, by more than just their place on the map. The following is a guide to selection.
The Nursing Career Ladder: Entry and Exit Options in KY
Nursing has a well-defined career ladder. Students don’t always know at the onset what level they want to practice at – or how far they can go. Some Kentucky nursing schools are multi-exit. Students may write the LPN examination or continue taking courses required for the RN license.
Students who complete LPN programs at the onset will have opportunities to articulate to higher programs later if they choose. In fact, LPNs training to become RNs are among those given preference through the Kentucky Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund (http://kbn.ky.gov/nisf/Pages/default.aspx).
The Admission Process
Prospective students will want to find out about the admission process. Admission is selective — the ACT may even be a requirement.
Some Kentucky schools have waitlists, but they do not necessarily stretch years on end. Schools assume that some accepted candidates will not complete requirements (paying fees, documenting immunizations) and that slots will open.
NCLEX Pass Rates in Kentucky
Certificate or diploma holders face one more challenge before they can be licensed as LPNs: They must pass the NCLEX-PN licensing examination.
Prospective students may visit the Board site to see five years of NCLEX pass rates by program (http://kbn.ky.gov/education/Pages/nclex.aspx). The Board cautions, however, that pass rates should not be the sole factor in choosing a program.
Program completion rate is, for some, a statistic worth considering. At some schools, a minority of students who begin LPN training actually complete the program. Admission policies have some bearing on completion rates. However, completion rates can also be an indicator of how much support is available to students who need it.
LPN Program Accreditation in KY
Accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is not nearly as fundamental as state approval. Still the Kentucky Board notes that the voluntary accreditation process “focuses on program excellence”. Currently, there is only one Kentucky school that has an ACEN-accredited practical nursing program; there may be more in the future (http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm).
Clinical experience gained as a student sometimes leads to permanent employment. It is sometimes an advantage if the school places students into many different facilities — they may find that they are not competing against each other to the same degree when it is time to seek employment.
Nursing is predicted to grow in demand. Still, job opportunities fluctuate according to economic conditions. Prospective students may want to ask about job placement services and rates.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Kentucky LPNs average $18.05 an hour or $37,550 a year. Salaries in nursing, like other fields, increase with years of experience, so a person often makes less at their first job.
It can also take some time to find the first position. The nursing school decision can feel less intimidating if one has received some scholarship money and is not relying too heavily on student loans.
There are special programs for individuals who need training to re-enter the job market. Some Kentucky programs are approved for funding through the Workforce Initiative Act (https://apps.kcc.ky.gov/training/Individuals.aspx). Eligibility for need-based federal moneys is determined by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
How much does nursing school actually cost? A search of WIA-approved practical nursing programs reveals highly variable tuition and fees. There are some programs that run $3,000 to $4,000. The most expensive programs are over $20,000.
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