How to Become a Registered Nurse

 The Secret Back Door to get in:

Let’s talk about the secret back door to becoming a registered nurse. People overlook this option, because they don’t even know it exists.

In nursing you always hear about the registered nurse (RN) and when you read the want ads it is always the registered nurse(RN) that is mentioned  and offered the big salary.

What many of you don’t know: there is another level of nursing called LPN or PN/VN or LVN  licensed practical nurse, practical nurse, vocational nurse, or licensed vocational nurse (different  terms used by different states).  This nurse requires licensure by the state after an exam is taken just like the RN( NCLEX-PN). The time & courses  to complete this program is less than an RN and usually no degree is given by the college (except for North Dakota). The back door has to do with many schools offering this program and not an upfront RN program.

Registered Nurse

THE REAL BACKDOOR IS:  They offer a PN program and an additional  PN to RN program. After completing the PN program you can work and make a good wage and get experience and then come back and finish (usually an additional year for your RN). Better yet for some programs you stay in and finish the PN to RN program….. and you have the ability to work as a PN while finishing the RN making a pretty good wage while doing it. This could be a win-win opportunity for you.

Another back door is going to a school that offers only a PN and then switching to a school that offers the PN to RN track. Competition for these PN programs cost far less than the RN programs.

Students overlook this option because they focus on the PN and know they want the RN…. BUT use this back door and consider the PN to RN route. This strategy alone could change your life!!

Secret : Hidden truth about Accreditation vs. Approved

This knowledge could save you thousands of dollars ,time and grief. It is the saddest thing to talk to a student about the thousands of dollars that they turned over to an online college and the time they invested in an education only to find out that the program was not approved and therefore they do not qualify to take the RN exam and get a license. You’re out time and money and no JOB!

I’ve even seen really bizarre programs that require you to go to another state for clinical training after you finished your online portion of the academics…… and then only in that one state could you become an RN. So unless you wanted to move to this state, you are in a world of hurt, oh,….. did I mention that FEW were prepared to pass the clinicals and failed even if they did go to the other state?

So, the first thing on your radar before applying to nursing school is to make sure the program is approved in your state. If it is on the list that I discussed at the end of secret #2, again go to the state board of nursing for your States website and look at the list of approved nursing programs.  Your state may use the term accreditation vs. approved. Whatever the term, just make sure the school you want is on their list.

Now for the tricky point that could get you into a nursing program that you may have ignored applying to due to these terms.

Programs may say that they are accredited by the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). For accreditation these national groups must have visited and examined the program for certain standards. This might let you sleep better at night knowing that someone o.k.’s the program, but keep in mind there still may  be major flaws in the program even though it has accreditation by these national groups. Keep reading in my secrets so you can identify the additional questions you will need to ask.

There is a small group of nursing programs that are approved by your state but are not accredited. Don’t blow these off your list yet. In fact they might be your best chance for becoming an RN. There may be several reasons they are not accredited but still be a darn good program.  Some of those reasons might be:

  • Accreditation costs money, and with budget cuts this might be one of the things to go.
  • New programs just getting started might want to get the bugs worked out first.
  • The program might not have jumped through the right hoops for these people and so did not receive the accreditation but still may produce a great RN.

These programs will need more investigation and a few more questions answered about NCLEX pass rates. Check with large hospital RN recruiters to see if they care… 9 out of 10 times their biggest question is: Did you pass the NCLEX board and do you have your RN license? vs. does the program have accreditation.

Secret Pass rates:

Pass rates of what? The school program? We will get there….for now let’s talk about the pass rate of the national RN-NCLEX exam that all RN candidates have to take and pass to receive the RN license to practice and get a job. Most departments of nursing for your state will have the most accurate percentage of passers for their first try broken down by each school. The school may try to scam you and keep their pass rate a secret or give you an old percentage or a number that reflects multiple attempts at the exam… want a percentage of first timers taking the exam .

Why is this so important to know? Well if you pick a school to go to that has a 50 % pass rate, you do not want to finish all that schooling, time and money to find that you have only a 50% chance of actually getting a license to work as an RN.  Now if the rates jump to 75% on people taking the exam on their second time then…it may be worth the risk especially if this is one of those easier schools to get in to. And there are ways to boost the odds in your favor that you will be the one in the 50% to pass and get your license. So don’t totally rule out these schools…but, if you get accepted to more than one school this is a  consideration for which school you should attend.  Below is the national pass rate average …use this link to see how the schools you are looking at compare to the national average:

In the Bonus Manual you have the complete list of states with addresses, websites and phone numbers to refer to for finding the nursing schools in your state or neighboring states or where you want to move to. The links will take you to the NCLEX pass rates and knowledge if the program is approved.  A few states do not post this information online. Use the phone numbers provided to contact the state agency to find out what the pass rates and approval lists are for the schools in your area. This state site will provide additional information like state scholarships, laws and practices for your state, and  application for your RN.

One last secret: be aware of really high pass rates and really high attrition rates. There is a nursing program in my area that was boasting a 100% pass rate on the national NCLEX RN exam. This looked wonderful on the surface until you found out that the school had a 70% attrition rate…only 30% of the students finished that started. They would give a national type exam every quarter to the students and if they failed the first time they were out of the program.

So who was left?….. students who knew how to study for and pass a national exam, which the NCLEX exam is. There was poor instruction going on with a high turnover rate of instructors which also contributed to the problem. If you did not ask both questions together you would be led to believe this is a wonderful nursing program, with such high pass rates. This leads to our next secret with more information on attrition rates.

Secret of:  Pass rates ( a different kind )

Before you can take the NCLEX RN exam for licensure you will need to pass through the nursing program successfully. And before you sign on to the program you will need to ask….” what is your attrition rate?” .

Attrition rate is a fancy way of saying, ” how many started the program and did not finish”?. If they say there is a 75% attrition rate this means in layman terms that if 100 students started the nursing program only 25 student graduate. Ouch!!…. you will need to consider running from this program. But, you will need to play detective to find out the real reasons before running for the hills.

If the attrition rate is high because the program is non-competitive and the average GPA coming into the program is 1.5.,you may want to consider staying, especially if your GPA is higher.

What is the average number of outside working hours for the students? How many hours are the students trying to work while going to school? Academic failure could be nothing more than working to many hours to support themselves or others …this leaves no time for study.

Talk to other students in the program and get their feedback. Is there no support, poor instruction, no continuity, high faculty turnover, overzealous exams? Then ask yourself if these are things you can overcome? Do you have the support to succeed and be one of the 25%?

I would be very hesitant to sign on to this program.  As they say in poker “play the odds” and 25% odds is not so good considering all of the time, money and effort you will be putting into schooling. If this is the only school you are accepted into, then you will need to work hard and overcome the odds! Use my bonus manual on passing exams to help you.

Some states will have studies where you can find the average attrition rates. For example . California has a  66% on time completion rate in 2000-2001( it varied from  4.3 to 100%) (delayed rates averaged 14.5 %, meaning some students had to repeat a quarter or semester or took off some time for some reason, they finished, just not on time) with the average attrition rate at 20% in CA . This study was done in 2000-2001 and may have changed. Here is a link to the study:

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