Choosing an LPN Program in Ohio
Ohio boasts nearly 70 PN programs, according to the Ohio Board’s annual report. Some programs serve limited populations, for example, high school students, but many are open to all who meet admission standards. With so many programs, how does one choose?
Accreditation and Articulation
Program level accreditation, though not required for licensing purposes, is a sign that a program has gone through a rigorous evaluation process. Only three of the state’s PN programs are currently accredited, according to the 2013 annual report. A number of others are considering accreditation.
In some instances, accreditation can make it easier to articulate to a higher level program. It is a less common expectation at the LPN to RN level, however.
Candidates who have no plans to leave Ohio may consider articulation agreements between the state’s schools. The Board reports that 29 of the programs that serve adult populations have articulation agreements with associate level professional nursing (RN) programs. Just nine, though, have articulation agreements with bachelor’s level RN programs (http://www.nursing.ohio.gov/Education.htm).
Quality of Training
Some programs give students more experience in the field. According to the 2013 annual report, the program with the most clinical hours clocked more than three times as many as the one with the least – 609 to 202.
Facilities are another consideration. Nearly half of the state’s LPN programs (30) have high or moderate fidelity patient simulations. The hours spent in the lab can vary greatly from two to more than 160!
Then there’s the issue of the professionals carrying out the education. At the practical nursing level, educator qualifications are highly variable. Staff-student ratios also vary. A majority of Ohio’s programs report faculty-student (or teaching assistant-student) ratios of 1:8 to 1:10, but there are some with even better ratios.
Preparation for the Licensing Examination in OH
Wherever they do their education, practical nursing graduates must eventually pass the NCLEX-PN. NCLEX scores are commonly used as a gauge of program quality. The Ohio Board makes program pass rates available (http://www.nursing.ohio.gov/education.htm).
Prospective students may also want to consider how easily nursing school can be balanced with other commitments. Practical nursing training can be completed in about a year. However, some programs offer part-time training over a two-year period.
Advanced Placement Options
Students with prior healthcare training may have different needs. Some Ohio nursing schools grant advanced placement to individuals with training as nursing assistants or emergency medical technicians.
Financial aid opportunities vary somewhat by program. 14 schools have been approved as WIA training providers for displaced workers in Ohio. This list includes programs in neighboring states (https://jobseeker.ohiomeansjobs.monster.com/).
Practical nursing students are often eligible for federal grants and loans.
What does nursing school cost? At the 14 programs approved for pre-licensure practical nursing training, tuition ranges from under $5,000 to nearly $20,000. A student can expect to pay at least $1,000 of additional fees; it is common to pay several thousand.
Ultimately, Ohio LPNs enjoy a mean salary of $44,460 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm). It can take some time, though, to reach this figure.
The Admission Process
It’s not all a matter of finding the ideal program. It’s also a matter of getting in. The 2013 annual report reveals that 213 qualified applicants were denied admission at the practical nursing level due to a lack of seats.
Some schools will guarantee you admission as long as you meet their minimum standards (for example a 2.0 GPA). The downside is that there is often a waitlist. Other schools use a competitive process.
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