Completely at my wits end on how to start my nursing education

  1. Hello everyone,

    I've been wanting to share my situation with people who are capable of giving advice, so here I go... I apologize if the information in this post is a little scattered but I'm completely at my wits end on how to even start my education in nursing.

    I am 26, live in Los Angeles with my daughter and husband. So far I have only worked in retail. I have no medical background so I hope to determine whether nursing is a good fit for me by taking advantage of a 21 day trial period at a nearby career college (instead of doing all the prereqs at my local community first and finding out much further down the line).

    I am currently enrolled in a for profit college to become a LVN. I have read all the warnings about for profit schools, but I feel in such a rush to start my nursing career. I have read all the posts about how for profit schools are a financial rip off. I have a family member who will pay my tuition minus all the grants I am getting so I do not need to worry about loans. There are no community colleges offering LVN in my area so I'm stuck with private.

    However, I know for a fact that if I determine that I like the LVN program, I will want to eventually go for RN. I am aware of the job market for LVNs and that it might be very hard to land my first job as a LVN.

    I am worried about so many things. Even though my family is willing to pay for my tuition, I wish I didn't have to ask for such a huge amount ($21,000 to be exact, for one academic year). I am also worried about maxing out my Pell Grants, when I do decide to do LVN-RN, before I would be finished with RN since you can only get grants for 6 semesters in a lifetime. Another concern I have is how to keep supporting my my family with rent and other costs, so I am torn on how to get started...

    1. Should I become a CNA and work as one as I am enrolled for RN in community college? No need to ask for such an insanely high amount of money, but it would take much more time to achieve my goal. I'm already 26 and like everyone else, I need more financial stability through a career I truly love and better sooner than later.

    2. Should I study for LVN, work as a CNA part-time and when licensed, enroll in the LVN-RN program at the community college? Very expensive, but I would be an actual nurse around September of 2019. But there's more of a worry of not finding a job quickly.

    3. Is there a third path that I am missing or not aware off?

    I keep playing these scenarios in my head over and over everyday and I try to think of all the possible consequences of each decision but it doesn't become any clearer to me...

    Please, I'd appreciate honest advice from anyone, and thank you for reading my story.
  2. Visit sanb26 profile page

    About sanb26

    Joined: Feb '18; Posts: 5; Likes: 1
    from CA , US
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience


  3. by   elkpark
    I realize this is not an answer to any of the questions you actually asked, but I can't help myself: Good lord! $21k for an LVN program is highway robbery (and that's "minus all the grants I am getting"?? What's the full ride for the LVN program??). "There oughta be a law" (seriously). Even if it's not coming out of your pocket, are you really willing to rip off your family member(s) to that extent??

    I like the idea of getting certified as a CNA, working part- or full-time as a CNA (which will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not nursing is for you) and working your way through a legitimate nursing program, preferably RN (with family assistance if they are able and willing to offer it). Lots of people go that route (I've worked with many CNAs over the years who are working their way through nursing school). Yes, it will take you longer, but things worth doing are worth spending time on. It probably won't take you longer than doing the LVN program and then an LVN-to-RN program later, and you'll probably get a much better nursing education, to boot.

    I know these decisions are difficult to make. But schools that offer things like LVN programs for $21k that you can start tomorrow stay in business by preying on people who feel desperate and rushed and that they have no other options. Don't be one of those people! This is your future; it's worth taking some time to make smart, careful decisions for yourself.

    I always strongly encourage people who are considering going the proprietary (private-for-profit) school route to sit down and watch the "College, Inc." episode of Frontline on PBS before making a final decision: College, Inc. | FRONTLINE | PBS
  4. by   sanb26
    Thank you so much for your advice, elkpark. I will definitely watch that episode you recommended.

    The LVN program has a total cost of $31,100. My family member is happy and willing to help but that still doesn't justify this massive expense. Looks like I might need to start researching CNA programs instead. Knowing that I can get a pretty good idea of what the nursing field is like, at such a much more affordable cost...
  5. by   elkpark
    $31k for an LPN program?? That truly is highway robbery. Please don't fall for it! For that amount of money, you could get an entire BSN at a lot of respectable schools. Best wishes!
  6. by   amoLucia
    Not figuring in the cost of schooling, my concern is really your job opportunities prospects. Seriously, I don't think you really DO know & understand the limited scope of possibilities that may be avail. In all my readings here on AN, I believe that Calif has to be the most convoluted and difficult state for education & practice issues.

    Yes, there will be LVNs out there who were lucky and will tell you NO PROBLEM, but I truly believe them to be limited to few & far between. Finding that initial job and in a desired practice field may not happen.

    A second MAJOR concern will be that rarely are private-for-pay school credits accepted for college transfer. Your prospective school has to be accredited by certain institutions accdg to nat'l criteria, not some obscure agency that awards certificates (to a school that pays for its certification ).

    So your LVN-to-RN (BSN or MSN) can be critically & negatively affected. So can job & career opportunities, like for the Vet Admin and military.

    PLEASE! Take your time and do some very thorough research looking beyond cost and speediness. Please don't regret making a hasty decision.
  7. by   TinaMWrtr
    I understand you "want it now and fast" attitude. That's been me for about 4 years now. I had a career and when I was laid off, I wanted it then. I went for my CNA license and that has been the best thing. The pay is better than retail and so are the benefits. Get your CNA and take your prerequisites. Get most of your BSN classes done. Try and get a job at an acute care hospital as a CNA while taking all the classes. If you can't get one in an acute setting right away, get one at a SNF or rehab for a year, then try for an acute again. That's what I've done. I now work at a hospital that is going to pay, 100% up front, for my ADN. They will pay tuition, books, shoes, uniforms. I also don't have to compete with all the other students applying to the best ADN program in the Dallas, TX, area. I met the requirements and I am in. I just have to commit to 2 years to my hospital when I'm done with the program.
    I wanted to rush it so many times and my wife said to slow down and take my time. And it has proven to be the best course for me.
  8. by   Leader25
    unreal,I would not pay that much for LVN,how are you ever going to make the money back?
  9. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    Yeah $30K to be an LVN is insane. Don't do it!!! Lots of us had jobs while working on our RN. That for-profit LVN program sounds like a complete ripoff
  10. by   kaydxag
    Pell grants are 6 years, not 6 semesters! $30k for a LVN is far tooo expensive. Are they any community colleges near you that offer LVN programs? Usually CNA programs are only a semester long - so that might be a good start for you!
  11. by   Chazzie_Made_It
    I would heed everyone's warning and slow down. Don't rush into this. And stay away from the for-profit schools. I went the route of going to PCA/PCT training. Then about 3 years of pre-reqs. And then finally ADN school. I was able to pay for everything either with scholarships or out of pocket. No student loans. Now I am beginning an RN-BSN program from our state University. All in all the ADN program cost about $5,000 including books but excluding pre-reqs. I am 36. I went slow because I wanted to save money and pay for the costs up front rather than working to pay back student loans. Now when I get a paycheck I know I don't have to set aside money for student loan payments.
  12. by   sanb26
    Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond, I very much appreciate all of it and it is what I needed to hear. Right now I am already studying for my CNA program which will start mid May!

    Thanks everyone. I feel so much better!