Choosing an RN Program in Kansas
The Kansas Board has approved a number of registered nursing programs. From the standpoint of Kansas licensure, all are equal. From the standpoint of someone beginning a career, they are not necessarily equal. Here are some issues to consider when selecting a program.
Board approval is sufficient for a candidate to sit for the nursing examination in Kansas. However, accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is desirable. Accreditation is especially important for nurses who plan on pursuing higher education.
There are 13 CCNE-accredited baccalaureate programs in the state. You may see a list of them by clicking here. There are 19 ACEN-accredited professional nursing programs, most of them at the associate level. Both degrees qualify graduates to take the same licensing examination, which assesses competent entry level practice. Still, many roles are reserved for those with baccalaureate degrees, or BSNs.
Institutional accreditation may also be considered. Regional accreditation is desirable for students who may ultimately study at the graduate level (whether in nursing or another field).
Accreditation isn’t the only consideration for those planning to climb the career ladder rung by rung. Schools also have articulation agreements governing transfer of credits. In some cases, one can even progress seamlessly from ADN to BSN level online.
Some associate programs are structured such that one completes a course of study in practical nursing first, then continues on for professional nursing education.
Since the NCLEX is a licensing requirement, candidates may want to consider how well graduates of the various programs do on a first attempt at the examination. The Board has published pass rates by program (http://www.ksbn.org/education/Resources/multiyearpassrates.pdf).
A full five years of data is available. The state average has generally been a few points below the national average, but there are schools that routinely post rates above.
The Kansas Organization of Nurse Leaders has identified some additional questions nursing students may ask. Click here to view the list of questions. They may inquire about the qualifications of faculty and about the faculty-student ratios. Some students may even want to request that a recent graduate call and discuss nursing school experiences.
The Application Process
Sometimes it’s less a matter of putting together a wish list than finding a spot. Schools have more applications than they have seats. The good news is that there is some movement away from waitlists. The bad news is that community colleges are not necessarily as open-to-all as they were in years past. Kansas applicants may be admitted based on a point system. There is often an admission test. The particular test varies from school to school. Extra points may be awarded for healthcare experience (for example, Certified Nursing Assistant).
As can be expected, expectations at the baccalaureate level are higher. At this level, a wide variety of material may be considered: everything from scholastic achievement to extracurricular activities. Application typically takes place as a person is nearing the end of general studies requirements.
Paying for Nursing School in Kansas
The salary average for the state’s RNs is $56,040, according to the BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm). This doesn’t mean a new graduate will start at this figure.
Not all schools have equal prestige, and not all school have equal job placement rates. A prospective student may want to see some “hard data” for gainful employment, and may want to inquire about where the typical graduate applies and finds work.
Yet another thing prospective students may inquire about is financial aid options.
Programs may boast a surprising number of grants and endowments. Title VII grants alone amounted to $1,819,406 in 2012 (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/resources/Kansas1.pdf).
Pell grants are another widely available source of financial aid.
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