Choosing an LPN Program in Maryland

The Maryland Board of Nursing has approved 13 practical nursing programs. The programs may be viewed by clicking here. Location is often an important factor, especially since one’s location within the state can affect tuition rates. Still, there are other distinguishing factors.

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The Nursing Career Ladder

Practical nursing is one step along the career ladder. Students may want to consider whether their program articulates into an associate degree professional nursing program. In other words, how easy will it be to continue one’s education?

The Board notes that the vast majority of Maryland LPN programs articulate directly (http://mbon.maryland.gov/Pages/education-index.aspx). A student who finishes the practical nursing program can go straight into associate-level RN training and finish in approximately one additional year.
There are also options to earn a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license en route to an LPN license.

Accreditation of LPN Programs in Maryland

Accreditation is a separate process from state approval. For a Maryland LPN, it’s not nearly as fundamental.
However, accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) signals that a program has been found to meet a long list of standards. Currently, only three Maryland LPN programs hold this accreditation (http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm).
In rare cases, accreditation may facilitate LPN to RN articulation options. This is more likely to be a concern to students who are considering relocation.

NCLEX Pass Rates in MD

All prospective LPNs must eventually pass the NCLEX-PN, a national board examination. A school’s pass rate reflects both the quality of instruction and the school’s policies for admitting, retaining, and graduating students. The Maryland Board makes NCLEX pass rates public (http://www.mbon.org/Pages/education-nclex-stats.aspx).
It is a good idea to view more than one year and take into account not just the rate but the total number of students taking the examination.

The Admission Process

Students will need to meet admission requirements. Often there are prerequisites. Maryland schools use different methods when there are more seats than applicants. They may become increasingly selective (http://www.ccbcmd.edu/media/nursing/lpn_faqs.pdf) or use a lottery system (http://www.howardcc.edu/admissions/docs/allied_health/LPN%20Admissions%20Handout.pdf). Residence may be considered.

Financial Considerations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average wage for Maryland LPNs as $23.99 an hour or $49,900 a year (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm). Prospective nurses should be aware that, while the education and qualification range is not as great for LPNs as it is for RNs, experience plays some role in determining earnings. Moreover, some students who begin LPN programs do not become nurses.

A prospective student may want to consider a program’s completion rate and employment rate. Completion rates depend on admission policies as well as program quality; many factors are within a student’s control. A variety of factors also influence employment rates, including the economy of the county or city. However, if employment rates are low, a student may well want to know the reason.

The initial investment will also be a consideration. The Higher Education Commission has provided tuition rates for the seven Maryland programs approved for training through the Workforce initiative Act; these range from $2665 to $14,310 (http://mhec.maryland.gov/preparing/Pages/FinancialAid/ProgramDescriptions/prog_nonresnurs.aspx). Prospective students should be aware that there are additional fees on top of base tuition. These are generally well over $500; in some cases, they may run several thousand.

There are many opportunities for financial aid. Displaced workers may qualify for funding through the WIA. The Maryland Board has provided a general resource for Maryland nursing students seeking financial aid. It can be viewed by clicking here. The Board recommends that prospective students actually visit the campuses and discuss financial aid opportunities.

Additional Information

For more information, a prospective student may want to visit “A Guide to Nursing Education in Maryland, a resource compiled by the Maryland Board of Nursing (https://mbon.maryland.gov/Pages/default.aspx).
Information sessions provide an opportunity to find out more about individual programs.

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Maryland

Career Overview: Becoming an LPN in Maryland

Maryland Board of Nursing

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