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Choosing an LPN Program in Minnesota

The Minnesota Board of Nursing has approved more than 20 practical nursing programs. Most programs are housed in technical or community colleges. Location will be the determining factor for some. Here are some other things to keep in mind.

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Accreditation

Programs must be state approved. Accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is another validation of program quality. Beginning in 2016, Minnesota will require nursing programs to hold accreditation or be actively seeking it. As of early 2014, only a few of the state’s practical nursing programs are accredited (http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm).

Articulation and Transfer of Credits

Many practical nurses eventually complete degree programs in professional nursing and earn higher licenses. Minnesota actively encourages this. The state has a mandated articulation agreement governing transfer of credits from LPN to RN programs. If students opt to do their education at Minnesota schools at both levels , their choice of LPN program will probably have little effect on their articulation options. In some locales, it could. A student who is considering relocating may want to do some research.

Some students enroll opt for a mobility program at the onset. They have the option of exiting the program with a diploma after one year and pursuing LPN licensure. Those who continue for another year can earn an associate’s degree and test at the RN level.

NCLEX Pass Rates in Minnesota

Prospective students may want to consider program pass rates on the NCLEX-PN licensing examination. First time NCLEX pass rates are one measure of program success. However, they reflect admission policies as well as instructional quality. Minnesota LPN programs tend to have pass rates a little above the national average while RN programs average a little below.

Interested individuals can view pass rates by program on the Board site (http://mn.gov/health-licensing-boards/nursing/public/nursing-ed/data-approved-progs.jsp). Currently the years 2010 through 2013 are posted.

Scheduling Options

Programs may be full-time or part-time. It is also possible to complete a Minnesota practical nursing program through distance learning. However, the program won’t be conducted entirely online. Students should be prepared to do some skills sessions at a physical campus. They will also need to complete clinical experience hours.

The Application Process

LPN programs are selective. Meeting the admission requirements of the parent institution does not guarantee that a person will be allowed to take clinical nursing courses. There may be a multi-step process. Students who do well in prerequisite courses may be invited to take an admission exam.

Often there is more demand than there is space available. Some Minnesota nursing schools do have waitlists. There are, however, instate options without. A student who has trouble locating one may try the Discover Nursing search tool (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters). Some programs that are without waitlists may not show up. Since procedures vary from school to school, it can be a good idea to research several.

Paying for Nursing School

Filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is often the first step in the financial aid process. Some students will qualify for need-based grants. Tax credits can often help offset the cost. Some students may qualify for stipends or training funds. Americorps service is one option.

Beyond Nursing School

Minnesota LPNs average $40,620 a year ($19.53) an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm). However, starting wages may be lower. Some graduates, like graduates in other fields, struggle to find employment. Students may want to inquire about career services and about the program’s track record in placing individuals. Placement rates and average debt load are typically found in a program’s gainful employment report. Often this information can be found on the school website.

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Minnesota

Minnesota Board of Nursing

Minnesota Licensed Practical Nurses Association

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