Choosing an RN Program in West Virginia
West Virginia has approved nine baccalaureate level RN programs and thirteen associate level RN programs. That’s a lot of options! There’s far more than geography distinguishing one from the next.
Baccalaureate (BSN) and associate (ADN) programs both prepare graduates to take the licensing exam at the same level. BSN nurses typically have more advancement opportunities: for example, leadership roles and staff positions at magnet hospitals.
Articulation and Transfer of Credits
Nurses don’t necessarily do their education all at once. Students may want to consider articulation agreements between schools. These make it easier for a student to do pre-licensure coursework at the associate level, then transfer to a baccalaureate program later. (Even if there is no formal agreement in place, however, it doesn’t mean that the nurse can’t apply to an ‘RN to BSN’ program later.)
Some nurses choose to continue their education all the way to the graduate level and become advanced practitioners. Accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is especially valuable to a nursing student who is continuing this route.
NCLEX Pass Rates in WV
Professional nursing graduates must pass the NCLEX examination before they can be licensed. Programs have variable success in preparing their graduates. West Virginia has set an 80% pass rate as the minimum standard. A higher pass rate can mean a better program, but it can also reflect differences in admission policies; some schools are very selective. The West Virginia Board publishes pass rates by program and by year.
The Admission Process
Nursing programs have selective admission; it is often more difficult to get into the school of nursing than it is to get into the college itself. GPA requirements vary. There is often an examination. Schools may also interview candidates.
While some schools do maintain a waitlist, this does not mean that all applicants will be relegated to one. In some cases, this is a list of alternatives or second tier applicants.
Universities sometimes set different policies for incoming freshman than they do for students who completed their prerequisites elsewhere. High grades and test scores may guarantee a high school student admission to the school of nursing once lower division coursework is complete.
The Campus Experience
Some programs have multiple nursing organizations and honor societies. Nursing students may have a different experience based on qualities of the parent institution, for example, if it is affiliated with a particular religion.
Financing Nursing School in WV
Private schools and four-year institutions often charge more per term, but fees are not necessarily borne entirely by the student. Some financial aid opportunities are available to students across disciplines, for example, the Pell Grant and the Stafford Loan. There are additional opportunities available to nursing students.
A student can look to the West Virginia Center for Nursing for information about scholarship opportunities for West Virginia students. The Center has published a detailed 2013 to 2014 update http://www.wvcenterfornursing.org/scholarships/documents/2014/2013-14_GuideToProgramUpdates.pdf Some schools have additional scholarship opportunities. They may be put in place by the local community or may be in-house.
Ultimately, West Virginia RNs enjoy a mean wage of $54,490, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm).
West Virginia nursing students have the option of enrolling in programs approved by other state agencies. This may include programs with online coursework.
However, if they are doing their clinical rotations in West Virginia, their school will need authorization by the West Virginia Board (http://www.wvrnboard.com/default2.asp?active_page_id=133).
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