How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Massachusetts
Licensed Practical Nurses, also known as LPNs, work with Registered Nurses (RNs) and doctors to provide hands-on patient care. They also perform some administrative duties. The state Board of Nursing where the LPN is employed will usually dictate what duties an LPN can do. They usually are supervised and answer to an RN, but in many states LPNs have many of the same responsibilities that RNs have. Some general tasks that an LPN may perform include:
- Monitoring a patient’s vital signs
- Notifying RN or doctor about changes in a patient’s condition
- Giving medication
- Administering wound care
- Getting a patient’s medical history
- Collecting samples
- Helping patients with personal care
The United States is presently experiencing a shortage of workers in the healthcare field, especially nurses. Most LPN training programs can be completed in a year, where it can take anywhere from two to four years to become an RN. If you are interested in working in healthcare, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time in school, you should consider becoming an LPN in Massachusetts.
Licensing Requirements in Massachusetts
The requirements for becoming an LPN in Massachusetts are much like the requirements for most other states. First, you should either be a high school graduate or have a GED. Then you will need to complete an accredited Practical Nursing educational program that has been approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing (Board). These are usually certificate or diploma programs. Once you have graduated from one of these programs, you must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). NCLEX testing centers are located in Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, Springfield, Wellesley and Worcester, MA. After being fingerprinted and passing a background check, you can apply for state licensure through the Board.
If you have been licensed as a Practical Nurse in another state, you may be eligible for licensure in Massachusetts through reciprocity. You will need to verify your nursing license through the Nursys system and pay an application fee.
Once you are licensed in the sate of Massachusetts, you must renew that license every two years. Renewal must be done by your birthday on odd-numbered years. You can renew as early as 90 days prior to your birthday. Renewal is done online. A fee is required, as well as showing proof of having taken 15 hours of continuing education in nursing.
LPN Programs in Massachusetts
Most LPN programs can be completed in 12 months or three semesters of study. Here are some of the best training programs available in Massachusetts:
- Berkshire Community College. The program at Berkshire is a combination of clinical practice and classroom learning. This is a full-time program that takes 10 months to complete. Graduates will receive a certificate in Practical Nursing. This program is approved by the Board.
- Northern Essex Community College. This Board-approved, full-time Practical Nursing program can be completed in three semesters. It is a combination of classroom and clinical study, as well as hands-on lab experiences. Students who complete the program will receive a Practical Nursing certificate.
- North Shore Community College. Students who complete this 10-month program will be prepared to work as an entry-level Practical Nurse and to take the NCLEX and apply for state licensure. This program is approved by the Massachusetts Board. A Practical Nursing certificate is awarded to those who complete the program.
Salary and Career Outlook for LPNs in Massachusetts
Nationally, the number of LPN jobs are expected to see a 12.3 percent increase by the year 2026. The state of Massachusetts is expected to see an eight percent increase, which is slightly lower than the national figure, but still shows that state will see growth in this area. According to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), 16,800 LPNs were working in the state in 2016. With the predicted growth rate, that number should be at least 18,210 by 2026.
Where salary is concerned, Massachusetts is the second-highest paying state in the United States for LPNs. In 2017, according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs in the state were earning $27.79 hourly and $57,800 annually. The highest earners in this field can make as much as $74,780 annually.
Working in Massachusetts as an LPN
Licensed Practical Nurses work in a variety of healthcare settings. Most of them work in nursing homes or home health care, but they also work in hospitals, clinics, correctional facilities, schools and rehabilitation facilities. Some LPNs may even work in the military as medics.
While the pay for LPNs in Massachusetts is good throughout the state, some cities are higher paying than others. Among the top paying cities are Beverly, Boston, Cambridge, Lynn, Marblehead, Newton, Peabody and Salem. Other cities that have high employment rates for LPNs are Brockton, Fall River, Needham, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield, Woburn and Worcester.