In Massachusetts, students interested in studying practical nursing will find several community colleges that offer undergraduate certificate programs in the field. Programs combine lectures with labs and clinical components and typically require completion of 42-47 credit hours. Courses cover anatomy and physiology, psychology, human development, nutrition, pharmacology and patient care. Practical nursing program applicants might have to take a placement test. In addition, some schools require applicants to complete certain prerequisite courses, such as chemistry or biology.
Below are brief overviews of ten practical nursing programs approved by the state, followed by a table containing important information about each school.
Berkshire Community College
Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield has a certificate program in practical nursing that runs from the beginning of the fall semester through the end of June. Prior to enrolling, applicants must demonstrate competency in reading and writing; they must also complete courses in English composition, anatomy/physiology and psychology. Nursing courses include family health care and health maintenance of the aging adult; both courses have clinical components. Students get additional hands-on experience during a practicum in gerontology.
Greenfield Community College
At this college in Greenfield, the practical nursing certificate program requires 43 credits of liberal arts and nursing courses. Students learn about the fundamentals of nursing and family care and hone their skills during clinical work. Courses in introductory psychology and human development are also part of the curriculum.
Holyoke Community College
At this Holyoke college, practical nursing students can earn a certificate by completing 44 credits of coursework. Two classes in anatomy/human physiology are required, as is a course in human development. Other courses include nutrition, pharmacology and nursing fundamentals. Students can sharpen their nursing skills through clinical experiences and lab work. A grade of C+ or higher is required in all nursing and laboratory science classes.
Massachusetts Bay Community College
Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley Hills gives practical nursing students the option of day or evening classes. Students attending the day program can earn a certificate in 40 weeks of full-time classes and clinical work from fall through June. The evening program typically covers two academic years and two summer sessions, with classes and clinical experiences held between 4:00 pm and 11:30 p.m. Both the day and evening programs require 49 credit hours. Courses cover family care, nursing for the aged, pharmacology, anatomy and microbiology.
Mount Wachusett Community College
The 45-credit practical nursing program at this school is offered in a daytime format, with classes at Mount Wachusett's Gardner campus and labs at the campus in Devens. Before applying to the program, students must complete a basic college math class. The practical nursing curriculum covers mother/child nursing and contemporary nursing issues through classroom work and clinical experience. Students are encouraged to take some of the required general education courses before entering the program.
North Shore Community College
At North Shore Community College in Danvers, students can earn a certificate in practical nursing with ten months of study that begin in the fall and run through June. Admission requirements include proving proficiency in math and communication through testing or coursework. The program totals 42 credits and includes courses in anatomy/physiology, nutrition, human development and pharmacology. Students learn about mother/child nursing, life continuum care and vocational trends in practical nursing through classroom lectures, labs and clinical work in area healthcare facilities.
Northern Essex Community College
Admission to the 47-credit practical nursing program at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill is competitive, and there may be a waiting list. Applicants must have taken a chemistry class and either a biology or human anatomy class in high school or college. Students get classroom, lab and clinical training in nursing skills; they also take classes in pharmacology and psychology.
Practical nursing students can earn a certificate at this college in Quincy. The program is available in a ten-month full-time day format and a two-year part-time format, in which classes are offered in the late afternoon and evening three days a week. Admission requirements include a placement test and proof of writing competency. The practical nursing program consists of 44 credits, including courses in human development, college math, nutrition and microbiology. Students learn about the fundamentals of nursing, nursing care for adults and medical/surgical nursing.
Quinsigamond Community College
In Worcester, Quinsigamond Community College offers a certificate in practical nursing through a 46-credit program of day or evening classes. Students take courses in biology, psychology, pharmacology and lifespan development. Nursing topics include mental health nursing and caring for the elderly, pediatric care and nursing leadership. The nursing courses include clinical experiences in area healthcare facilities.
Roxbury Community College
In Roxbury Crossing, Roxbury Community College practical nursing students can earn a certificate after a preparatory semester and three full semesters of study. Admission to the program is competitive, and applicants must demonstrate proficiency in intermediate algebra and biology through a placement test. Practical nursing students must take an English composition class before enrolling in general psychology and human development courses during the preparatory semester. The nursing curriculum includes an introductory course and two practical nursing courses that have classroom, lab and clinical components.
Practical nurses in Massachusetts are licensed by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), an individual must graduate from a state-approved practical nursing program, pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and meet the board's standards for good moral character.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||LPN Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*|
|Berkshire Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural||Practical Nurse Certificate|| $4,866 in-state;
|Greenfield Community College||2-year, public; distant town||Practical Nursing Certificate|| $5,210 in-state;
|Holyoke Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Practical Nursing Certificate|| $4,166 in-state;
|Massachusetts Bay Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Practical Nursing Certificate|| $4,496 in-state;
|Mount Wachusett Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural||Practical Nurse Certificate|| $5,188 in-state;
|North Shore Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Practical Nursing Certificate|| $4,536 in-state;
|Northern Essex Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Practical Nursing Certificate|| $4,560 in-state;
|Quincy College||2-year, public; large suburb||Practical Nurse Certificate||$5,524|
|Quinsigamond Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Practical Nursing Certificate|| $5,302 in-state;
|Roxbury Community College||2-year, public; large city||Practical Nursing Certificate|| $3,984 in-state;
Source: *NCES College Navigator.