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Choosing an LPN Program in Missouri

Missouri boasts 46 LPN programs which leads to the question, which program should you choose to become an LPN? With so many choices, it's not just a matter of geography, but program focus, quality, availability, and personal preference.

Program Intent

Different schools can have different missions. Many of the state’s LPN programs are offered by public institutions while a few are private.

Some programs are designed for particular populations, for example, the underemployed or unemployed. There may be services offered beyond just coursework and clinicals. Students may have access to career development and financial education.

Test Scores

The NCLEX-PN is a national board examination that helps assure that newly licensed LPNs have the skills needed for safe practice. Some programs include test prep as part of the curriculum. Since passing is a licensing requirement, a nursing student may want to compare pass rates by program (http://pr.mo.gov/nursing-education.asp).

Missouri expects all approved programs to boast at least an 80% pass rate -- on a first attempt. The Board publishes five years of testing results. Programs that have fallen below the standard are highlighted so that they stand out to those reading the list. Repeated failure to meet this benchmark results in a program being dropped to 'conditional approval' status; it can ultimately lead to loss of approval and closure. In order to be eligible for some forms of state financial assistance, a student must attend a school with at least an 80% pass rate.

IV Training for LPN's in MO

An LPN who seeks IV certification will need to complete an approved course (http://pr.mo.gov/boards/nursing/ivcourse.pdf). This does not necessarily have to be done at the same time as initial LPN coursework, however.

Admission

Schools typically have more applicants than slots. A prospective student will want to ask whether admission is determined by a point system or whether qualified applicants will be waitlisted.

Other Considerations

There are many factors that make a school feel right. Students can take the opportunity to attend information sessions at schools they are considering.

The College of the Ozarks has put together a list of questions that prospective nursing students may want to ask the programs they are considering. Topics include everything from program facilities to faculty (http://www.cofo.edu/Page/Academics/Academic-Programs/Nursing/Prospective-Students.157.html#h).

Paying for Nursing School in Missouri

Tuition at a state school may run about $9,000. This will vary somewhat by geographic location. There are many potential sources of financial aid. Many Missouri LPN programs are WIA-eligible. The Workforce Initiative Act is designed to help individuals re-enter the workforce at a good wage. Students who don’t qualify may still qualify for federal Pell Grants.

Full-time students at qualifying Missouri schools may be eligible for forgivable loans of up to $2,500 (http://www.health.mo.gov/living/families/primarycare/healthprofloans/). A loan recipient must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.5. He or she must be committed to working in a rural or underserved area of Missouri. If this obligation is met, the student will never need to make monetary payments. If the graduate is unable to honor the commitment, however, the loan will need to be repaid with interest.

Looking Beyond the Certificate

Successful LPNs ultimately earn solid wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists $35,230 as the average salary for a Missouri LPN (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm). This figure includes experienced LPNs, some of whom have supervisory duties. A new graduate can expect to make less.

During economic downturns, it can be difficult to secure a first position; one reason is that older nurses don’t retire at the expected rate. Prospective students may want to inquire about job placement services, job placement rates – and even what qualities distinguish successful and unsuccessful graduates.

Resources

LPN License Requirements in Missouri

Missouri Board of Nursing

Missouri State Association for Licensed Practical Nurses

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