Choosing an LPN Program in New Mexico
Begin your practical nursing education in New Mexico by seeking out an approved program. All programs listed on the Board site as having “full approval” have completed the initial approval process and found to be in compliance with state standards. However, they aren’t necessarily equal. Here is a guide to factors that distinguish one program from another.
Types of Nursing Programs in NM
There are two types of nursing program that potentially lead to licensure as an LPN in New Mexico, practical nursing programs, and career ladder programs. The list of approved programs currently shows just two LPN-only programs. One of these serves a limited population of Bernalillo County residents (http://nmbon.sks.com/Approved_Nursing_Programs.aspx).
Career ladder programs allow applicants to complete practical nursing programs after one year. Students may exit the program and become LPNs or continue on for another year and sit for the professional nursing (RN) examination. There are nine career ladder programs, offered by various public and private institutions.
New Mexico requires nursing programs to be state-approved, but does not require them to go through the national accreditation process. Some New Mexico practical nursing and career ladder programs, however, are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). This signals that the program has gone through a rigorous review process.
The New Mexico Board has provided a primer on accreditation and approval with links to relevant agencies (http://nmbon.sks.com/Approval_and_Accreditation.aspx).
The Admission Process
Prospective students should be prepared for a selective admission process. There are often prerequisite courses. Students may be required to score well on an examination like the TEAS or HESI. The HESI is geared specifically toward the health care arena and includes concepts that are not covered on the TEAS.
A strong student is often admitted immediately, though some schools maintain lists of alternate candidates. Students should be aware that some schools have just one application window per year.
Pass Rates on the NCLEX-PN in New Mexico
The NCLEX-PN is a licensing requirement. The Board makes pass rates public (http://nmbon.sks.com/NCLEX_RN_Nursing_Rates.aspx). In the case of career ladder programs, two percentages are provided. The designation “LPN” notes those who took the examination at the LPN level.
The percentage is less meaningful when only a few candidates took the examination in a given year. Candidates will want to look at multiple years of testing data and make inquiries if they have concerns.
Preparing for Success
Prospective students may want to consider a program’s gainful employment data. This includes things like the percentage of students who complete the program on-time and the percentage who are employed in the field within a specified time after graduation. While these figures may reflect some things that are outside the program’s control, they may either raise flags or quell concerns.
Students may also consider what services, academic and otherwise, are available on-site. They may also consider factors like class size and instructor qualifications.
Nursing schools hold periodic information sessions. Ultimately, there’s something to be said for going down to the campus and seeing how it feels.
Affordability of New Mexico LPN Programs
There are also financial considerations At a publicly funded institution, a practical nursing education may be had for around $5,000 to $6,000. Some schools, though, charge much more. Eligibility for various need-based programs is based on a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
In addition to standard need-based grants and loans, there are some New Mexico programs that have been approved as training providers through the Workforce Initiative Act (https://www.jobs.state.nm.us/vosnet/Default.aspx).
Successful practical nurses do eventually bring home good money. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average wage for a New Mexico LPN as $22.59 an hour or $46,990 a year (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm).
Becoming an LPN in New Mexico: Making sure it is the right path
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