Choosing an LPN Program in Virginia
Virginia practical nursing programs are housed in many different types of institutions: career and technology centers, community colleges, public school systems, healthcare centers, and proprietary (for-profit) private schools.
The type of institution will have some bearing on the experience. There are many other factors to consider. Here is a guide to explore your options.
A Program’s Track Record: NCLEX Pass Rates and Employment VA
After program completion, individuals must take and pass the NCLEX-PN, a national board examination. The Board publishes pass rates of Virginia programs. While the pass rate does give some indication of program quality, it also reflects the school’s admission policies.
Students may also want to consider the school’s gainful employment data and disclosures. Completion rates and employment rates are among the data that may be posted. Schools may also disclose prior students’ survey responses. For example, what percentage said the program prepared them for entry-level practice?
Finding a Spot in an LPN Program in Virginia
Enrolling in practical nursing is not as simple as signing up for courses at a community college. Programs typically have requirements that go beyond those of the school where they are housed. If demand is high, applicants may be ranked.
There may be differences in the system utilized even when programs appear, on the surface, quite similar. At Northern Virginia Community College, points are granted on the basis of previous education, healthcare experience, TEAS test scores, and interview performance. At Piedmont Virginia Community College, applicants are ranked on the basis of the number of prerequisite courses taken, the GPA, and the quality of a written essay. Again, there is some preference given to those with healthcare experience (http://www.pvcc.edu/docs/curriculum/hls/programs/hls_LPN_Admission_Requirements_Program_Information.pdf).
Students may consider how easy it will be to transfer to a registered nursing program later if they choose to do so.
The total hours and the breakdown (lecture, lab, clinical experience) vary by school. So do the scheduling options. Some schools, for example, have weekend options. Some are designed to get students through fast, others to allow them to balance schooling against other obligations.
Approval and Accreditation Status
A student will want to check that the program they are considering is not only approved but in good standing with the Board. The Board makes public any actions taken against nursing programs, for instance, if they have been placed on conditional approval or if full approval has again been granted (http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/edprogdiscipline.asp).
Accreditation by the ACEN, formerly the NLNAC, is not as fundamental, but is an additional validation of program quality.
Paying for Nursing School
A search through Virginia Workforce Connection reveals that the cheapest practical nursing program may cost less than $1,000. There are a number of programs that run less than $7,000. Some proprietary schools, though, cost significantly more. A prospective student will need to weigh cost against location, convenience, and whether they can find a seat. Some schools self-select partly on the basis of cost.
Many state financial aid opportunities are described on the site of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (http://www.schev.edu/students/payforcollege.asp). The Virginia Commonwealth Award supports students with financial need who attend state schools like community colleges (http://www.schev.edu/students/factsheetCOMMA.asp?from=). The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant assists students who pursue healthcare training at private nonprofit institutions. This is just a sampling meaning there are many more options.
Some Virginia practical nursing programs are eligible for funding through the Workforce Initiative Act.
Beyond Nursing School
The successful LPN is eventually well compensated. The average hourly wage for a Virginia LPN is $19.06, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm).
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