Choosing an LPN Program in Vermont
Vermont has one practical nursing program, at Vermont Technical College. There are several campuses programs as well. Some students may opt for programs on the other side of state borders. A Vermont student who plans to enroll in a program in another state, but seek Vermont licensure, should make sure that the program includes the required theory and clinical hours.
The Application Process
For many prospective nurses, the big concern is finding a spot in a program. Practical nursing programs must employ some selectivity just to make sure that those who enroll will be successful. There are often prerequisites. Many programs require candidates to take a test. Some value prior experience as a nursing student.
Some programs are more selective because they have many more applicants than they have spots. In the 2011 to 2012 reporting period, just 244 of 667 Vermont Technical College applications were accepted (http://www.choosenursingvermont.org/pdf/2011_Board_of_Nursing_Relicensure_Survey_RN.pdf). This figure does reflect all applicants, not just those that met some minimum standard.
Nationwide, some nursing programs accept a greater proportion of candidates. In some cases, though, there are long waiting lists. In other cases, tuition rates are higher and in the case of private colleges, students sometimes self-select based on their ability to pay.
Program Completion Rates
Although Vermont technically has only one program, there are minor differences in prerequisites from campus to campus. Despite selectivity, many students who begin practical nursing programs don’t complete them. Completion rates can reflect many things, including the selectivity of the admission process and the amount of support available at the institution. The nursing workforce site, Choose Nursing Vermont, reports a 91% completion rate for Vermont’s LPN program.
Articulation and Transfer of Credits
Some practical nursing students choose to complete more education later and become registered nurses. Students may want to consider whether the program holds accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). In some cases, this makes it easier to enroll in an RN program later. It is not a universal expectation, however.
Vermont’s practical nursing program is ACEN-accredited. It awards a certificate with transferable academic credits. The same institution also offers an associate-level RN program.
NCLEX Pass Rates in Vermont
The NCLEX-PN board examination is a licensing requirement. Prospective students may want to consider the percentage of students who pass on a first attempt. This is an indication of how well the program is doing in preparing its students.
Facilities and Instructional Opportunities
Students may also consider the facilities and equipment. Schools may utilize high-fidelity simulations; these are technologically advanced mannequins that have physiologic responses a lot like real human beings. Vermont allows medium and high fidelity simulations to count for up to 25% of the required clinical hours.
There are advantages to spending a lot of hours in the field, though. Clinical rotations can be an opportunity to collect references and make positive impressions on potential employers.
Paying for Nursing School
Practical nursing students may be eligible for nursing scholarships and or general need-based financial aid. Information about general state financial aid opportunities can be found on the site of Vermont Student Assistance https://www.vsac.org/. A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine eligibility for many need-based programs (https://fafsa.ed.gov/).
Vermont LPNs average $20.38 an hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm). A novice nurse typically starts below the mean, but starting salaries vary from region to region within the state.
The first challenge is securing that first position! A prospective student may want to study a program’s gainful employment data. This often includes the percentage of students who obtained a position in the field in the months after graduation.
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