Choosing an RN Program in Maryland
Geography often plays some role in one’s choice of a nursing program. Maryland students may get different tuition rates based on their county of residence, at least at the associate level. Still, there are many factors to take into account when choosing a program.
Professional nursing programs award different degrees. Most Maryland RN programs fall into two categories associate and baccalaureate. There is one direct-entry master’s program for students who already have degrees.
Associate degree programs in nursing are of course shorter, but they are generally more than half the length. The Maryland Board refers to associate degrees in nursing as three year programs and notes that the actual time is generally five to six semesters. An accelerated program may be much shorter. The student will need to go to school year-round.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has noted a “BSN advantage, when it comes to (among other things) finding a first position (https://www.aacn.nche.edu/news/articles/2013/new-data).
Maryland Associate Degree Nursing, a professional organization, offers a different perspective on the relative values of the degrees (http://www.marylandnursing.net/positionstatement.php).
The Application Process
Selection is competitive, but not identical across programs. The TEAS skills test is a common requirement. Grade point average and grades in prerequisite courses can both be important. Schools have differing policies regarding points for CLEP and other advanced placement.
Some nursing programs admit a smaller percentage of applicants than others. A perspective student should be aware that it is not necessarily the higher level programs that have low acceptance rates. After all, individuals are drawn to community colleges for many reasons, including their lower per-semester costs. Hartford Community College notes that there can be up to 300 qualified applicants — when less than 100 can actually be admitted (http://www.harford.edu/~/media/PDF/Nursing/FAQ.ashx).
The AACN reports data for BSN and graduate programs at the state level. In 2012, there were reportedly 397 qualified applicants turned away statewide – not so bad when you consider that 1,888 received their degrees (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/resources/Maryland1.pdf).
Still, at the associate level, the applicant pool may have, as a whole, lower academic qualifications. Hartford Community College reports that most accepted applicants have GPAs above 3.0 but that, no, a 4.0 isn’t necessary!
Some Maryland schools do have waiting lists, but this does not mean that all students who meet stated requirements will be admitted — or that the wait will stretch for years. In some cases, this is a list of alternates and is only valid for one admission cycle.
Articulation and Accreditation
Most Maryland nursing schools participate in the statewide articulation agreement. This means that students who complete associate degrees in nursing can expect a certain amount of credit if and when they transfer to baccalaureate programs.
In the case of out-of-state schools, programmatic accreditation can be a factor in determining who will be admitted to a higher level program.
There is just one national accrediting agency for associate programs, the ACEN (formerly NLNAC).
Schools at the baccalaureate level are frequently accredited by CCNE. Programmatic accreditation can be especially important for those who will eventually pursue nursing studies at the master’s level.
NCLEX Pass Rates in Maryland
Students may also consider the school’s pass rate on the national board examination that is required for licensure. Maryland has made twelve years of data available. Click here to see the data.
Healthcare practitioners may have other needs. Some Maryland programs offer options for LPNs and military medics. The state has approved just one online LPN to RN bridge programs (http://www.mbon.org/Pages/education-index.aspx).
Financing Nursing School in Maryland
Some Maryland nursing students qualify for tuition and living expenses through the Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant Program. The Higher Education Commission is a resource for those seeking out additional state financial aid opportunities (http://www.mhec.state.md.us/preparing/Pages/FinancialAid/paying.aspx). The federal government, meanwhile, awards Pell Grants.
Eventually Maryland RNs do earn good money, averaging $71,090, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm).
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