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Take the lpn route in this economy?

beachmum beachmum (New) New

Hi, I'm new here! I'm a "nontraditional student" i.e. single mom in her 40s with a mortgage, starting my prereqs at BHCC with an eye on a BSN Accelerated program later, (I have a nonnursing bachelors) or at least an ADN now.

My question is what the best route to do if I need to work and go to school, or get in and out of school as quickly as possible...

    I understand Boston hospitals want RNs, but with this economy, is it better to start out with an LPN or ADN? Do any of the schools offer more financial aid than others, if any? (I don't qualify for pell grant).

    [*]Since i have to take a lot of prereqs, it's going to be at least a year before i can enter a BSN program. I have no medical background; Aside from working in a nonmedical field, what's the best way to get started now while i take prereqs?

    [*]I see a lot of jobs for LPNs, and they don't pay too badly, and the tuition doesn't seem too bad at a community college, vs. $25K and up for a BSN. Would it make sense to go the LPN route first, then do a bridge program for an RN? Is there a good chance of getting tuition reimbursement as an lpn?

    [*]If I lose my job, I heard that there may be unemployment training programs to help earn a degree or certification, is this true? Would a CNA certification at the Red Cross be worthwhile? I heard you can get certification in nursing school, but that's a ways off.

    Thanks for any advice for any of my barrage of questions!:o

I am in a somewhat similar position - married guy in my 40s, kids, mortgage, etc, making a change into healthcare from an unrelated education & work background. From what I can tell, best thing is to just get yourself actually working in some aspect of direct patient care as much and as soon as possible. I'm currently working full-time as an EMT while working on my prereqs, with my eye on a direct-entry NP program. For you, this may mean taking whatever courses you need to start working ASAP as an LPN or even a CNA/PCT.

In this economy, I think you absolutely HAVE to get your foot in the door with some sort of patient care exposure. Use your remaining prereq time to start building this work experience.

[*]If I lose my job, I heard that there may be unemployment training programs to help earn a degree or certification, is this true? Would a CNA certification at the Red Cross be worthwhile? I heard you can get certification in nursing school, but that's a ways off.

>> BE WISE, if you get retraining money, because you only get ONE training. ONE. So use it toward the LPN or RN, not some little thing that doesn't pay well. Because, after you are trained, you are employable, and you don't want to be employable at $8 per hour and stuck with that and denied any further funding down the road because you have job skills.

Check with your local OneStop, the unemployment office. Workers and Unions - Labor and Workforce Development What's usually available is WIA (Workforce Investment Act) money, and the amount of it and how it is administered varies with the state, the time of year, and some other seemingly arbitrary and capricious rules. You can use WIA money toward any "demand" occupation that is on the state-approved training provider list. If it's not on the list and you can prove "demand" it can be added. If it doesn't pay the whole bill, you pay for the rest of it, either with other grants, loans, savings, or wages.

In PA, the WIA money is administered by WIA zones, and my locale is a 2-county zone. The amount of grant money available to me for retraining was $4000 total, and that was divvied out at $2000 max per year. (Some other states might be $8000 total and $4000 per year. It varies.) That money gets dumped into the funds pool once a year (or maybe 2x but not more), and all the unemployed people are competing for it. At times, the unemployed are getting retraining money handouts like candy, and then at other times you'll be told you are eligible but there will be no money until July 1 or whenever the pool is refilled. In some states, you can't get WIA or TAA retraining money if you have a college degree. But that has changed in a lot of places over the past 2 years, because so many white collar jobs have been lost forever, and the states don't want to deal with the educated ones who'll yell "Discrimination!" And the "powers" have figured out that having a college degree or at least a successful semester or two is a good indicator of success. Between you and me, I think there's currently a little more bias toward helping the higher skilled laid-off workers, including the college grads, because they are swifter on the uptake and better educated and better prepared to succeed and land a job in the post-industrial job market than are the poorly educated people that dropped out of high school.

The real sweatheart deal for retraining is TAA, Trade Act Assistance. Started as a NAFTA thing but expanded to be anyone (meeting certain conditions) who lost a job due to foreign competition. That has about up to $20,000 to $27,000 of schooling grant money, and also offers relocation assistance, plus up to 24 months of TRA special unemployment that you can collect while going to school.

As for LPN vs. RN, in some locals like mine, we almost have more LPN jobs that RN. LPN here pays about $15-$16 per hour but you can get $18-$20 closer to Pittsburgh, and beginning RNs are only averaging $22. (+ benefits on all of those salaries)

For the long haul, you want BSRN, but that can be done in stages. I chose RN over LPN because I could afford to do it right now, and I don't have children or husband or much of anything else to distract me, and I can do RN without incurring and debt. Call me a snob, but I also have almost all of my non-nursing college work completed, and have 2 college degrees, and I felt that I'd have more in common with RN students than some of the LPN students. LPN gets a huge diversity of students, but I thought I should push on and go straight for RN because I might not ever get as good of a chance again.

Edited by Streamline2010


I am in the same predicament as you & have decided to follow the LPN route ~ work as an LPN & for for my BSN as I currently hold a Bachelor's ~ in, like you ~ a non-health related field. Good luck to you :)


Oh, and the Pell and other grants depend on your household income, so you have to fill out the FAFSA online and be evaluated for those types of grants. Pay attention to the deadlines, because that money also runs out early.

eta: You mentioned Pell, so you must have done the FAFSA. You'd need to FAFSA for any of the WIA or TAA money, too, just to prove that you are not eligible for any other grants first.

Edited by Streamline2010

If you're planning on becoming an RN in the future either way, I would say don't waste your time or money on an LPN program. I know a lot of new LPN grads who cannot find jobs for months now - and they ended up back in school going for their RN because of it. They feel it was a complete waste of time and money for the outcome. I know everyone's situation is different, but I would tell you to go for the RN degree. It will benefit you greatly in the short-term and long-term. You could always go back and complete your BSN - Most jobs will reimburse you or finance your way to your BSN.

Hope this has helped.

Chin up

Specializes in Med surg, LTC, Administration.

In this economy, I would do LPN. Especially in MA where our pay rate is very good compared to other states. You can start off out of school, making 50k. Of course you will be restricted to LTC. I saw a post above stating LPN's making 15-16 dollars an hour. I haven't seen a rate that low, since the early eighties. Most LPN's I know make upward of 25 dollars an hour, with experience, upward of 30. I do mean in the Boston area. The further out you go, the less you make. But a good investment and jobs are always plentiful. One poster said a waste of time, I disagree, completely. I may have capped out at 80k, but I have always been employed, have always had flexibility and have always found a job within weeks.

You can bridge to RN, while working. In this economy, I say go for it. If your situation were different, and or the economy was stronger, I would say, go for your RN. That was my mantra. But now, whatever is best for you and your family. Peace!

I am in a similar place,OP, and I also say go for the LPN. While others are waiting years to get into an RN program, you will be a nurse while waiting to get on the RN track.

I am in a similar place,OP, and I also say go for the LPN. While others are waiting years to get into an RN program, you will be a nurse while waiting to get on the RN track.

Actually, to get into the lpn program, it would have taken me a year to get prereqs, deadlines etc. I am not eligible for Pell because I have a BS already. The One-stop work centers said the money ran out, at least in this area, for paid CNA training, although it may renew July 1, they don't know.:uhoh3:

I did get accepted to LM/Regis today! now I have to worry about money, waiting for the finaid info... I liked Regis because I didn't have to take prereqs before being accepted. If this doesn't work out, I suppose I'll get my prereqs done in the next year, to open up my options...thanks everyone for your help!!:yeah:


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