Choosing an RN Program in Michigan
Check out the list of approved registered nursing programs in Michigan, and you will find a lot of options (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch_nurse_approve_ed_prog_98366_7.pdf). There are also plenty of licensing qualifying programs in other states. Here is a guide to sorting through them.
Nursing programs may result in different academic degrees, yet still confer the same license. They aren’t necessarily equal. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has published information about the value of the higher degree, the baccalaureate, or BSN (https://www.aacn.nche.edu/news/articles/2013/new-data).
A related issue is articulation: how easy it is to move from one level of nursing education to another while taking your credits with you. Some schools allow a student to earn a practical nursing (LPN) certificate en route to an associate degree (ADN). The LPN certificate may be within reach after just one year.
Some Michigan schools have signed articulation agreements with other schools. They may determine that a student who has graduated with an ADN will be granted advanced standing and can enter a BSN program at a particular stage of the program.
All professional nursing candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN. Thus, pass rates may be taken into account when selecting a program. High completion/ graduation rates are another signal of a strong program – though admission policies must also be taken into account. Convenience is another issue. Some schools offer online courses in conjunction with an on-site skills laboratory and clinical practice rotations in healthcare facilities.
The Admission Process
Despite the well-publicized demand for nurses, nursing schools don’t have spots for all qualified candidates. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that 3,178 Michigan students graduated from programs at the BSN level or higher in 2012: a figure that includes both new licensees and those climbing the career ladder (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/resources/Michigan1.pdf). This may sound like a lot until you consider the 2,415 turned away. Schools don’t have the facilities — or the faculty. There were 28 Michigan faculty vacancies in 2013 according to the AACN.
Nursing schools may handle demand in two ways. One is by becoming more selective. Sometimes, though, qualified candidates are waitlisted. Some Michigan nursing programs have waiting lists as long as three years. There are plenty of schools, but if finding one becomes a problem, you can utilize the Discover Nursing search tool (http://www.discovernursing.com/schools#no-filters).
Out-of-State Nursing Programs
If a program is in Minnesota, it must be approved in Minnesota. If it’s in another state, its status is determined by the other state licensing agency. The Board also includes a link to nursing programs approved in other states — it’s a list of schools that have been granted NCLEX codes.
Financing Nursing School
Some Michigan associate level RN programs are WIA eligible; the Workforce Initiative Act is designed to provide assistance to allow workers to re-enter the workforce at a solid wage.
There are plenty of other sources of grants and scholarships at the higher levels of practice; Title VII funds many. You can check out a fact sheet to see stories of real nurses whose dreams became reality thanks to these programs (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/resources/Michigan1.pdf). Nursing students are also eligible for general financial aid like the Pell Grant.
Beyond the Degree
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average salary of $64,430 for Michigan RNs in May 2012 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm). This doesn’t mean a new graduate can expect to start at this wage; many positions are for nurses with expertise in a specialty area.
Some individual schools provide information about starting wages of graduates. Mott Community College has provided a figure of $20 an hour. When looking at these figures, you should also factor in gainful employment data. Some schools have better placement rates than others.
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