Across the country, there is a significant shortage of nurses. This is why considering a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a really good idea. Training as an LPN can generally be completed in under one year, which is one of the reasons why it is so popular. However, it is important to understand that the LPN career is not the only option available to enter the field of health care. Choosing an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, or becoming a medical assistant or a CNA are all other options. This is why it is important to look into the ins and outs of being a Licensed Practical Nurse in Massachusetts before deciding whether or not this is the career for you.
About LPNs in MA
Becoming an LPN in Massachusetts is reasonably straight forward. Essentially, you need to do around a year of training, during which you will also get hands-on practice. Once completed, you pay an $85 fee to the Massachusetts Board of Nursing to apply for licensure. Your school will need to send them a transcript as well. Finally, you will need to obtain a CPR card (some schools will require you to have this before you start) and then pass the NCLEX-PN examination.
In Massachusetts, this is generally the quickest way to become licensed. It is very important, however, that you choose a program that is fully accredited, which means it has demonstrated that it offers both the theoretical and practical knowledge required for the job. It is best to speak to a number of different schools in terms of what their programs offer before you decide which one to enroll with.
Once you hold an LPN license in Massachusetts, you must renew it every year. To do this, you must have taken part in 15 contact hours during the year. One contact hour is 50 minutes of education through a board approved institution and this can be done online.
What Jobs Does This Lead To?
LPNs are incredibly valuable members of the health care team. They usually work in physicians’ offices and ambulatory care centers, where their abilities and diverse skills can best be used. Usually, LPNs are managed by registered nurses and sometimes by physicians. In most cases, an LPN is not allowed to work in emergency rooms or critical care settings. However, they can often work in hospices and nursing homes.
The average salary for Licensed Practical Nurses in Massachusetts is 15% above the national average. This means their average earnings are around $54,000. However, those who have just started their career will generally earn less than this. Newly graduated LPNs usually earn between $25,000 and $30,000. Those with the most experience and particularly those that have been with the same employer the longest tend to earn the most, with the top 10% earning as much as $65,000 per year.
There are a number of things you can do in order to improve your salary prospects. Firstly, you could choose an employer that is known to pay more. Corporate companies, private practices and specialized hospital units usually pay more. Some of the specialized units you could choose include cardiology, neurology, pediatrics, and geriatrics. However, these locations do often require further education. Because the knowledge and experience you require in order to work with these types of patients is so extensive, they are also the best paid positions.
Additionally, you could choose to work difficult and unsociable hours. Undesirable schedules are very difficult to fill for employers. Most people do not want to work extended hours and they often avoid the graveyard shift. However, if you are willing to work those hours, you can expect to be compensated for that as well. Indeed, the average hourly extra for working during these hours is $6 above the regular salary. This is both compensation and an incentive to work.
There currently is a significant shortage of nurses across the country, and this shortage is worsening. Because of this, the demand for properly qualified nurses is climbing as well. The Massachusetts health industry is no different and job openings for LPNs are numerous. All fields of nursing currently have requirements for LPNs, including home health companies, hospitals and doctors’ offices. To attract more and better staff members, they now offer educational benefits, flexible schedules and higher pay, as well as a number of other incentives. Indeed, some hospitals now offer student loan reimbursements (up to a certain amount) and bonuses to new members of staff.
The comfort score for LPNs in Massachusetts is currently 82. This score looks into the spending power of professionals, comparing how much they earn with the cost of living. A comfort score of 82 places Massachusetts at 16th place in the country, which is very good. However, the comfort score for more highly qualified nurses is even higher, which could be a good incentive to further your education. On the other hand, the fact that the comfort score is so high is a great incentive to start working as an LPN first.