Choosing an LPN Program in West Virginia
West Virginia has approved more than 20 practical nursing programs. The State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses sets standards high, requiring programs to demonstrate that their graduates do well on the licensing examination and are employable. However, the programs are by no means the same. They are offered by a variety of institutions including vocational centers, technical and community colleges, and even public school systems. Students may have very different experiences based on the type of school they select.
Students who live near state borders sometimes do their training through schools approved by other licensing agencies. In short, there are a lot of options! Here is a guide for evaluating them.
Approval and Accreditation Status
Students must make sure, at the least, that they are selecting a program that is authorized to operate. Otherwise, they won’t be able to take the licensing examination.
West Virginia programs may have tentative, full, or provisional approval. Full approval is the safest bet. Tentatively approved programs are new and haven’t yet had a chance to demonstrate that their students can pass the licensing exam. Provisionally accredited programs, on the other hand, have failed to meet one or more state standards. The West Virginia Board allows these programs a maximum of three years to demonstrate that they’ve made corrections.
West Virginia refers to the state approval process as accreditation; this is not the norm around the nation. There are other forms of accreditation that may be confused with state accreditation. Many programs nationwide are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN. Very few West Virginia programs hold this status. It’s not necessarily a big concern; some jurisdictions place more emphasis on national accreditation than others.
School-level accreditation is also granted by recognized third party agencies; this has some bearing on financial aid opportunities.
The Admission Process
Prospective students must also consider the admission process. West Virginia programs have selective admission. Typically, this includes some “hard data” like academic performance and scores on admission tests. It’s also common to require references and put applicants through an interview process.
Candidates should be aware that the standards are not identical from program to program. The number of applicants varies as does the number of seats — it can be a good idea to do some research.
Most programs are full-time and last a year or slightly under; some may be finished in nine months. A search will turn up some part-time options.
Most programs that show up through a search on Work Force West Virginia have tuition rates between $3,000 and $8,000. There are other associated fees; in some cases, these may run as high as a few thousand dollars. There are a few more expensive programs. These tend to be ones that are located in neighbor states, but that West Virginia students may attend (in some instances, receiving state funding).
Some programs are eligible for funding through the Workforce Initiative Act. Students may be eligible for other funding based on their life circumstances. One West Virginia program cites Worker’s Compensation, Rehabilitation, Veterans, and Single Parent among the accepted programs.
The Pell Grant is a common form of financial aid. Some students may also receive scholarship assistance. The West Virginia Center for Nursing provides information about nursing scholarships. http://www.wvcenterfornursing.org/scholarships/ Students who are paying for their educations themselves may be allowed to make a payment plan.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that West Virginia LPNs average $16.18 an hour. Still, finding a first position proves challenging for some. Students may want to inquire about career services.
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