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Choosing an RN Program in Connecticut

A prospective RN in Connecticut must choose a Board-approved program. The list on the Board site includes fully 18 programs (http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp). They all qualify graduates to take the same examination and receive the same license. However, there are significant differences in programs. The following is a guide for selecting.

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Program Level

One consideration is program level. There is one diploma program in the state and multiple associate and baccalaureate level programs. Individuals who already have college degrees may opt to enter the field at the master’s level.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that BSNs (and graduate level nurses) are at a hiring advantage, particularly during difficult economic times. A recent study found that 86% of BSN graduates in the Northwest had found a position in the first four to six months after graduation; 96% of entry-level MSN graduates had (https://www.aacn.nche.edu/news/articles/2013/new-data).

The AACN found no significant difference between hiring rates between private and public universities or small and large ones. However, some schools do enjoy more prestigious reputations than others. (This is, after all, the state where Ivy League Yale is located.)

Timeline

Another consideration is the timeline. It’s not just the length of the program one needs to consider – it’s also the time it takes to get in. Although a few Connecticut schools report that the number of students admitted was slightly below seat capacity, many programs have far more qualified applicants than they have spots.

The AACN reports that 1,545 applicants were turned away from programs at the baccalaureate and graduate levels in 2012 – this is greater than the number who graduated; it represents an increase every year since 2006 (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/resources/connecticut1.pdf). There were 18 Connecticut nursing faculty vacancies reported in 2012.

Programs may handle demand by becoming increasingly selective or by implementing a waitlist. Prospective students should be aware that some programs do waitlist applicants. The Johnson and Johnson site is a place to begin the search for programs with no waitlist (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters). However, not all schools appear on the list.

Test Scores and Other Quality Indicators

Applicants may also wish to consider the NCLEX-RN pass rate. The Connecticut Board lists pass rates for the prior three years (http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3143&q=519800). Several Connecticut schools have pass rates averaging well into the 90s across the 2010 to 2012 years. (Schools must maintain first-time pass rates of at least 80% to remain in good status.)

Another possible quality indicator is the attrition rate: the percentage of students who withdraw from the program.

Other Considerations

Another issue is convenience. Most associate programs are offered in the day. However, there is one evening program in the state. The Connecticut Board has also approved an out-of-state distance learning program; students must do clinical rotations at an actual healthcare facility.

Financing Nursing School

Costs are highly variable. There are resources available to needy students. The AACN reports that Connecticut received well over a million dollars in funding through Title VIII in 2012. A majority of the funding went to support nurses pursuing advanced nursing education. $361,127 in Workforce Diversity grants were also issued to support minority and disadvantaged students.

There are also moneys available through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Candidates may look into the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program and the Nursing Education Repayment Program. Both require a commitment to working in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

For those who make it through school and build a career, nursing can be lucrative. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Connecticut’s registered nurses enjoyed a mean wage of $75,660 in 2012 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm). This figure reflects both early career and experienced practitioners.

Resources

RN License Requirements in Connecticut

Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3143&q=388910

Connecticut Nurses Association http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/affiliates/entry/california-nurses-association

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