An Associates Degree in Practical Nursing will prepare you for a career in the medical field as a Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Typically, LPNs and LVNs work in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities physicians offices and private homes. Most work full time. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) spend much of their time on their feet while setting up equipment and providing help for patients.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
You should expect to spend at least two years going to school full-time to earn your Practical Nursing Associates Degree. Though, some universities have specialized programs that allow their students to accelerate their final two years of their degree program. These students are able to complete the final two years of their Practical Nursing degree in 17 months. If you choose to attend school part-time for any reason, it could take you 6 years or more to complete your degree.
No matter how you choose to attend, you'll have to complete around 120 credit hours to graduate with a Associates in Practical Nursing degree. These credit hours include your general education (mathematics, history, humanities, and communications), along with your required major classes for your field.
Before choosing a major there are some important facts you should know about.
Before you enroll in a college, make sure that they have the major you are considering. For Practical Nursing, many universities have whole departments devoted to the subject. If that is the case, then make sure they have the specific branch of Practical Nursing that interests you. If you are starting out at a community college, they may not have a specific degree for Practical Nursing, but they may offer the right math and science courses you will need as prerequisites. Investigate how well your community college work will synch with your later work in a university before registering.
This is a very important question to ask yourself. Your major should play a big part in the schools you are considering. Not every college may offer the major of your choice, so doing your homework is the first step of the selection process.
Before you declare a major in Practical Nursing, you should have an idea of what kind of timeframe you're looking at. If you are trying to achieve an associate degree, you will only need to finish about 60 credit hours over 2 years. However, if you are going for you bachelor's (B.S. or B.A.) degree in Practical Nursing, you will need to complete 120 credit hours over four years. And, if you want to attain a master's degree as well, you will have to finish your bachelors first and then spend around 2 years completing 60 more credit hours. Some of the coursework you will find in a typical Practical Nursing degrees are:
If you're concerned about the specific graduation rate at each school you're most interested in, the Office of Institutional Research at each university should have that information. Nationwide, only 41% of university students finish within the two year timetable. The remaining 59% tend to stay in school for five years or more.
This can get very expensive. Students have to pay for additional terms of tuition. Universities and colleges may also penalize students who are taking too long to graduate. So, you need to have a plan that enables you to graduate within two to three years. See an advisor for your major every semester. Take the classes that they tell you are required. Try to take more than just the 12 minimum full-time credits per semester—instead, take 15; if you don't have to work more than 10 to 15 hours a week, try to take 18 credits. Take summer classes to get ahead (or catch up if you fail a class).
Don't change majors too often. If you're not sure of your major, take just your general education credits and try a few majors you're interested in—take an introductory class for each major and find the one that fits you best.
Depending on your school and if you are paying in-state or out-of-state tuition, a Practical Nursing associate degree can cost as little as $15,000 or as much as $150,000. The key difference in the price will depend on whether you attend a public, in-state school or a private school. Note that if you attend a public school in another state that you will probably pay twice (or more) of the base tuition. Private schools can be more or less expensive depending on the prestige of the school for Practical Nursing or if they are charging additional fees for out-of-state students to attend the college.
If you are going to spend a lot of time and energy to attain a Practical Nursing degree, you will certainly want some job placement assistance as you near graduation. Discuss this with your admissions counselor when you are considering the right program. In fact, you might want to broaden that discussion by asking about how your school handles internships and if co-op programs are available. Experiential learning can help you not only gain the skills needed to land a job, but you can also cultivate a professional network that will help you build the career you deserve.