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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. The college tuition and general fees are $107 per credit (* subject to change). There are some additional fees for allied health students and additional costs such as books, uniforms, immunizations, CPR certification, licensure application fees, and preparation course costs for the licensure exam. The greatest outside cost is books - it may be up to $400 the first semester, $150 each additional semester, approximately. Please remember to plan for additional personal expenses that will make it easier for you to be successful in the nursing program, for example, day care.

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 have student placements at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, New England Baptist, and Boston Medical Center, to name a few. 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 ratio is high – 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 program is also an option for a smaller number of selected AD-RN students three evenings a week which runs through the summer months. Call the Division of Nursing for the most recent info.

Q. Are there men in the health programs?
A. Yes. About 15% of our nursing students are men and there are both men and women in the mental health worker and radiology programs. There are equal career opportunities for both men and women.

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. There is a fee for this service and the results should be sent to the Admissions Department and Registrar.
Please contact:
Center for Education Documentation
PO Box 326
Boston, MA 02130
Tele: (617) 522-4738
The Boston Welcome Back Center can help individuals who have received health care training and education from other countries. Please contact them at 617-228-4226 or by email at welcomeback@bhcc.mass.edu
Graduates of schools of nursing in other countries who want to take the National Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to practice nursing in the United States should contact:
Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools
3600 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2651
Tele:  (215) 349-8767

Q. What is the level of responsibility for a nurse? How do they relate to physicians?
A. Nurses take much responsibility for patient care, for patient and family teaching, and for management of the unit. Nurses use critical thinking to make decisions regarding patient care every day.
They work collaboratively with all health care team members.
In most patient care situations, doctors visit the patient briefly - but there is a nurse assigned to the care of that patient 24 hours per day. There are “physician’s orders” to order medications and diagnostic tests. However, nurses make the hour by hour decisions that guide patient care. Nurses need to understand the patient’s medical problem in order to plan care and to know if the patient is making progress or developing problems. Much of a nurse’s job is to assess - really look at the patient, conduct a physical exam and monitor for potential problems. Nurses solve problems before they arise!
Every nurse has some managerial function. Nurses delegate care to nurse aides and plan the daily activity of the unit. They need to supervise others effectively and fairly. People who are ill are sometimes unpleasant. Their families are often distressed and angry. A good nurse learns how to work well with others in stressful situations.

Q. Are these health career programs academically difficult?
A. Yes. All students must understand science. So nurses must learn how many medications work and how to look for/avoid side effects. All need to understand how the treatment for one problem may affect another. There is not always a “right answer” – because what is right for one patient may be unacceptable to another in a similar situation. Health care professionals need good writing skills, oral communication skills, and computer skills. They write notes that have legal significance. All also need good critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, group membership skills, and excellent caring and ethical behaviors. Health care career study and practice is difficult, challenging, and rewarding. It requires intellect, problem solving, commitment, compassion, and good humor.

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 617-541-5313 for the time and date of the next open house/information session or look on the website at www.rcc.mass.edu/nursing