Choosing an LPN program in New Jersey
New Jersey has many approved LPN programs (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/nursing/nur_consumers.htm). They are offered by a variety of institutions, from public adult schools to career institutes. Here are some considerations when choosing one.
NCLEX Pass Rates
Whatever program you complete, you will eventually need to pass the NCLEX-PN national board examination. If you enroll in a program with a high pass rate, you may feel more confident in your own potential for success. Pass rates are available on the ‘consumer information’ section of the Board site (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/nursing/nur_consumers.htm).
Expenses are far more than just tuition. Fees may add $1,000 to $2,000 to the total. The estimated cost for books and supplies could run as high as several thousand. New Jersey Training Opportunities, a governmental site, allows you to search for training opportunities for various professions. The cheapest programs in the state cite total costs in the $6,000 to $7,000 range. Some programs cost several times as much.
The cheapest program does always mean the lowest out-of-pocket costs as choice of institution may influence financial aid opportunities. A practical nursing program that a public school system chooses to provide to adults in the community may be perfectly acceptable to the New Jersey Board and may provide quality education. However, it may not qualify students for federal grants.
Such programs may still be WIA eligible. The WIA provides training for some individuals who need assistance re-entering the workforce.
Some programs cite on-site job placement assistance as a perk.
Students often like to view a program’s gainful employment data. This may include the percentage of students who completed the program and the percentage who went on to secure employment in the months following completion.
You can expect any New Jersey LPN program to include clinical practice in healthcare facilities. However, the breadth of the experience may vary.
Schools may have various types of special emphasis. At least one New Jersey LPN program has a bilingual focus, with the goal of preparing LPNs who can practice competently in both English and Spanish.
Balancing School with Other Responsibilities
Some schools make it easier to balance education with other responsibilities, like raising a family. They may offer on-site child care or offer assistance with finding child care elsewhere. They may give the option of taking classes in the evening. Although an LPN program can be completed in less than once calendar year, some schools give students the option of going part-time for two years.
The Application Process
Applicants are expected to be current on vaccines and free of disqualifying criminal history. They may need to complete a few academic prerequisites. There is often a pre-admission examination. New Jersey LPN schools often require references and/or interview prospective students.
Sometimes applications exceed capacity. Schools handle this by becoming more selective or instituting a waitlist.
As requirements vary quite a bit from institution to institution, it can be a good idea to shop around. The Discover Nursing website has a search tool to locate nursing programs without waitlists (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters). However, some pass beneath the radar.
Schools typically host information sessions. They may also provide detailed written information to candidates.
Beyond Nursing School
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists $24.69 as the average hourly wage as for LPNs in New Jersey. Schools can often provide information about the starting salaries of their graduates; these may vary from community to community within the state. Cape County Public Schools, for example, notes that their graduates typically start between $20 and $25 per hour and move into the $25 to $30 an hour range after about five years in the field (http://www.capemaytech.com/adult-education/post-secondary-programs/practical-nursing.html).
New Jersey Board of Nursing http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/nursing
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