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Frequently Asked Questions about the Nursing Programs and the Mental Health Worker Program at RCC

Q. What is the difference between an Associate Degree Nurse (eligible to become RN) and a Practical Nurse (eligible to become an LPN)?
A. The practical nurse program is a 42 week certificate program. Most Massachusetts Licensed Practical Nurses are employed in long term care and rehabilitation. The acute care hospitals and clinics employ some LPNs. In nursing homes, LPNs often take leadership positions, being the charge nurse on a particular unit.

The Associate Degree Nursing Program is a two year program for students who wish to become registered nurses. The program of study for Registered Nurses has a wider breath and depth of knowledge. They are employed in direct care and leadership and management positions in acute care hospitals, home care agencies and community health clinics, in long term care, and in rehabilitation agencies. Today, most American nursing students who are studying to become registered nurses are studying in community college settings which offer the associate of science degree in nursing.
The Associate Degree nursing program has articulation agreements with many baccalaureate programs in the greater Boston area. Students who wish to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will be accepted to these colleges as third year students. Many RN’s choose to advance their education to the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral levels.

Q.  If I become a Licensed Practical Nurse – can I continue my education at RCC to become an associate degree nurse (eligible to be RN)?
A. Yes. The Nursing Department has a career ladder program that allows graduates of our practical nurse program or LPNs who have graduated from other nursing programs to enter the Associate Degree Nursing program with advanced placement.

Q.  What is the current salary for people in health care careers?
A. Local registered nurses are making over $25 per hour to start, more with experience. There is extra pay for evening and night shifts, holidays, and weekends. Radiologic technologists make comparable pay.
A. Local LPNs are making over $18 to start – more with experience. There is extra pay for evening and night shifts, holidays, and weekends. Mental health workers often work in group homes or acute care and often make between $8-15 an hour.

Remember – the majority of nurses and other health care workers work some evenings or nights, and some weekends and holidays. Illness does not stop for holidays!

Q. Are there jobs available for people in health careers?
A. There are MANY available jobs. There is a local and national shortage of nurses and mental health workers. Health care will be one of the professions in great demand for years to come.

Q. I have experience as a nurse aide or EMT or in the Armed Services – Do I get advanced placement?
A. No. These trainings prepare you in basic care or specialized skills only. The college health care curricula are at higher levels.

Q. Can I enter the health career programs directly from high school? Or can I transfer credits from another educational institution? What about advanced placement?
A. Yes. There are college level courses as pre-requisites for entry to both the practical nurse and associate degree nurse curriculum that must be successfully completed before applying to one of these select programs. Transfer credits will most likely be accepted after evaluation by the Registrar’s Office. See your advisor or call the division office to talk to a program coordinator with questions about transferring courses.

Yes, there is advanced placement options only in the AD-RN Programs, day and evening.

Q. How much time/energy does the successful nursing student devote to study?
A. The nursing programs at RCC are academically demanding. The students in the day programs are in class, lab or clinical 4 or 5 days a week. (There is an evening program for a smaller number of AD nursing students.) There is extensive reading and homework. Students often go to the hospital on the evening before their clinical assignment to do research on the patients they will care for. We often tell students that being a student nurse is like having a full time job- it takes just as much time. Nursing students and mental health worker students are in clinical for about six hours a day. Radiology students are in clinical for eight hours a day, two to three days a week, and over the holidays, and in the summer (5 semesters)

Q. Can I work for pay while in the nursing programs?
A. Some students work part time. We recommend that you plan to do most of your work for pay part-time, on weekends and on school vacation time. Students who are working full time have a very difficult time devoting enough time to their nursing studies. They sometimes regret not planning better.

Q. What are the costs of a health career education at RCC? How can I afford school?
A. College tuition and fees change on a yearly basis.  Click here to review RCC's tuition and fees list.

Q. What advantages are there to a health career education at RCC?
A. RCC offers you the opportunity to have health care experiences at some of the finest hospitals in the United States. We also have clinical experiences in the community. RCC offers an affordable option to higher education.  Our programs are relatively small and our full time faculty to student ratio is 7:1 in the clinical setting and a maximum of 25:1 in a classroom setting– giving you more individual attention. The nursing faculty is diverse and reflects the student population at RCC. Faculty is sensitive to student’s cultural needs. Faculty recognizes that students are adults with work and family commitments. We take a personal interest in you and your success. We have faculty-led supplemental instruction sessions and mentoring programs, pairing you with a student further along in the program.

We offer articulations with many Boston area colleges and universities- giving you the smoothest possible path to BS and MS degrees.

Q.  Can I attend the program part time? What about evenings or weekends?
A. You may take any or all of your general education credits before you enter a program. Courses range from 3 to 6 to 9 credits to 12 credits each. Although 9 credits is not considered to be full time, you are committed 4 or 5 days a week in an intense study course. Currently the college offers a full-time day program for the AD-RN Program, Practical Nursing Program. An evening and weekend program for a smaller number of selected AD-RN students is determined on a semester-by-semeter basis. Call the Division of Nursing for the most recent info.

Q. What if I completed some or all of my education in another country?
A. Students who have taken college level courses will need to have their transcripts evaluated. Visit the International Students page to learn more

At Roxbury Community College - a dedicated faculty will work with you to help you succeed academically. If you have further questions – come to one of our information sessions. Call the Division of Nursing, at 857-701-1645 for the time and date of the next open house/information session or look on the website at www.rcc.mass.edu/nursing