Practical Nursing

GCC requires all students who enter the Associate Degree Nursing or Practical Nursing Certificate program to be and remain up to date with COVID vaccination. According to CDC guidance, that means that you have completed the primary series of vaccine (either both doses of the two-step (Moderna or Pfizer) or the one-time vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) AND have the most recent booster. Because all GCC clinical partners now require full vaccination and testing, participation in our nursing programs is not possible if you are not vaccinated. Vaccines are now readily available at most pharmacies and healthcare facilities
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In as little as ten months, our Northampton-based program prepares you for a respected career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), providing direct and competent nursing care to adults and children in nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and out in the community. Consider becoming an LPN if you are interested in being a “bedside nurse” who delivers “hands-on” patient care.

What is an LPN?

LPNs enjoy a rewarding, meaningful career in today’s healthcare system. LPNs have full responsibility for the quality of health care they provide to patients since they are a graduate of an approved certificate program and licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The LPN implements nursing care for adults and children with common health problems by providing patient care, administering medications and patient treatments, assisting with diagnostic procedures, and generally organizing the care of their patients.

LPNs are employed in an exciting variety of health settings including long-term care facilities and ambulatory settings such as doctor’s offices. With 25% of LPNs in Massachusetts age 55-65 in 2013 and an increasingly older general population, employment opportunities are projected to steadily increase by 20-25% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pay scales are also steadily increasing in this area of Massachusetts. Employment benefits generally include health insurance, paid vacation and sick leave. Extra pay is earned for working evenings, nights and/or weekends. LPNs enjoy a wide variety of work schedules providing great flexibility when attempting to juggle career and family responsibilities.

Interested in our program? Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the Practical Nursing Information Packet prior to applying. Most questions related to the admissions process can be answered with these two resources!


Practical Nursing is a health occupations program with a special admissions process and health requirements. You must submit a separate application to this program in addition to a general application for admission to GCC. Please review all criteria prior to applying!

What You'll StudyCourse Sequencing

Students in this program take 43 credits of rigorous liberal arts and clinical nursing courses over a period of 40 weeks between the beginning of September and the end of June. The program prepares students for, but does not guarantee successful passing of, the NCLEX licensure examination. However, our graduates usually pass the examination, with some classes enjoying a 100% success rate.

You will take at least 25-35 hours per week of laboratory science classes and clinical practice, with many more hours per week of study and preparation required in order to be successful. Attendance at all scheduled classes, clinical laboratories and clinical practices is expected, with a grade of at least “C” in every course in order to continue in the program. Students must have at least a 2.0 GPA to graduate.

Curriculum Documents

To plan certificate completion, see the course descriptions in the academic catalog which specify the planned semester(s) in which required classes are to be scheduled.

Course sequencing is outlined in our Practical Nursing Program Information Packet.

Course descriptions are available in the academic catalog. Find courses

Program Learning Outcomes

Students completing a course of study in this program will be able to:

The specific nursing curriculum is organized and based on concepts and principles aspired to by GCC’s Principles of Education. The curriculum design flows from these principles as seen below.

Program Outcomes

The PNC graduate will:

Patient-Centered Care

Provides holistic care that recognizes an individual’s and family’s preferences, values, and needs, and respects the client or designee as a full partner in providing compassionate, coordinated, age and culturally appropriate, safe and effective care.


Deliver standard-based care that is consistent with moral, altruistic, legal, ethical, regulatory and humanistic principles. 


Guide the behavior of individuals or groups within their environment in order to facilitate the establishment and achievement of shared goals. 

Systems Based-Practice

Demonstrate the ability to effectively apply work unit resources to provide care that is of optimal quality and value while maintaining awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context of the healthcare system. 

Informatics and Technology

Use technology and information to analyze as well as synthesize information to make decisions that optimize patient outcomes.


Interact effectively with patients, families, and colleagues, fostering mutual respect and shared decision making, to enhance patient satisfaction and health outcomes. 

Teamwork and Collaboration

Function effectively within nursing and interprofessional teams, fostering open communication, mutual respect, shared decision-making, team development. 


Minimize risk of harm to patients and providers through individual performance within health care systems.

Quality Improvement

Uses data to monitor the outcomes of care processes, and recommend improvement methods to design changes to continuously improve the quality and safety of the health care systems.

Evidenced Based Practice

Integrate the best current evidence coupled with clinical expertise for the delivery of optimal health care. 

Expected Level of Achievement for Approval

  1. 80% of students will pass the NCLEX PN exam within 12 months after completion of the program.
  2. 85% of students will complete the program within 36 months of enrollment in the first nursing course.
  3. 80% of students who respond to the post-graduation employment survey will be employed 16 hours or more within 6 months after graduation.
  4. 100% of students enrolled on the first day of classes are filled by qualified applicants meeting the PN nursing admission requirements.
  5. 0% of complaints to the MA Board of Registration in Nursing.

What's Next

Take the LPN licensure examination and enter the LPN work force. Generally, an LPN can expect to find employment caring for patients in structured settings such as long-term care facilities as well as in ambulatory settings such as doctor’s offices. However, there are a variety of options available to the practical nurse, especially if they have previous experience in related fields. In summary, the LPN is usually characterized as the “bedside nurse” who delivers hands-on patient care.

The GCC Practical Nursing Program aspires to be an agent for a more equitable, just, vibrant, and resilient world through education and development of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Our vision is to prepare practical nurses who are capable of meeting the basic psychosocial and physical needs of all individuals and their families with common, well-defined health problems in a manner in which personal preferences and beliefs are honored.

The GCC Practical Nursing Certificate Program is committed to providing individuals the education necessary to become an integral part of the health-care team and assume positions as practical nurses in structured health-care settings. Practical nursing education is a planned sequence of teaching-learning activities utilizing the nursing process and clinical judgment as clinical reasoning and problem-solving techniques. A graduate of the Practical Nursing Certificate Program will be prepared to practice basic therapeutic, restorative, and preventive nursing in a safe, caring and competent manner.

We believe that nursing is an art and science that assists, guides and supports individuals and their families in adaptive responses that promote well-being. Individuals and their families are by nature whole, complex, multidimensional systems. Holistic health is the state of well being of the whole person. Adaptive responses between the individual and their internal and external environment promotes health, improves the quality of life and allows for dignity in death.

Our faculty appreciates the diversity and individuality of our students. We encourage them to actively participate in their own learning which we view as a life-long process in an ever-changing health-care environment.

Concept of Nursing Education

  • Nursing: The faculty views nursing as an art and a science. The art of nursing is the expression of nurturing, caring, and comforting. Science is the application of relevant theory, practice, and principles. The nurse uses professional communication to integrate the application of knowledge and the maintenance of individuality and culture in providing services to individuals and families.
  • Humanity: Persons are physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual beings. The faculty teaches this holistic approach to the person throughout the curriculum. Nursing courses emphasize assessment of individuals and their potential for growth. Liberal arts courses and the biological sciences provide the student with a foundation to understand the dimensions of the individual.
  • Environment: Environment includes internal and external elements that affect the individual. Nursing focuses on the person(s) in relation to their total environment. There is constant interaction between internal and external environments; it is impossible to separate the person from the environment.
  • Health/Illness: Health and illness are dynamic and ever changing throughout the lifespan. They are separate but may co-exist as is represented by a continuous line called the health-illness continuum. This continuum spans highlevel wellness, common health problems, and severe illness and death.

We support the GCC Principles of Education in that we value the process of learning as much as the knowledge gained. Nursing education is a life-long learning process which continually provides for the acquisition and application of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The faculty affirms the individuality of each student, the complexity of their life experiences, and their ability to actively participate in the learning process. We believe that each encounter with students in the learning environment should engage compassion and concern.

The PNC Program faculty and staff work hard to help our students succeed. If you have specific questions or concerns about the PNC Program, please contact us!

Melanie Ames Zamojski MS, RN, CHSE

Dean of Nursing

Academic Affairs

A.S., Greenfield Community College
B.S.N., University of Phoenix
M.S.N., Western Governor's University

E120C 1-413-775-1763

Melanie Ames Zamojski is the Dean of Nursing at Greenfield Community College. She oversees the Associate Degree and Practical Nursing Certificate Programs. Melanie has been with GCC since 2011 instructing in Fundamentals, Pediatrics, and clinicals. She has more recently coordinated the simulation and skills lab. Her experience is primarily in prehospital, critical and emergency care. Melanie is a proud graduate of the GCC Nursing Program! She lives locally with her husband, David and has 2 adult children, Meghan and Brian, and one grandchild due in 2023!

Rachel Porter


Practical Nursing Certificate Program

A.S., Greenfield Community College
B.S.N., Elms College


Rebecca Wolf



A.A., A.S., Greenfield Community College
B.S.N., M.S.N., Southern New Hampshire University


Required coursesSample schedule

The following courses must be completed in a sequential order which is outlined in our Practical Nursing Program Information Packet.

PSY 101 Principles of Psychology - 3 credits

Introduction to the field of psychology. The student considers topics pertaining to mental processes and behavior, such as theoretical perspectives, research methods, biopsychology, states of consciousness, sensation and perception, learning, cognition, memory, development, motivation, personality, and mental disorders.

(Offered: Every Term)Prereq: ENG 090 and ENG 094, or satisfactory placement

PSY 217 Human Growth and Development - 3 credits

A survey of human physical, psychological, and social development from birth through death. Framework for the study of the individual's cumulative, integrative growth experience. Theories of development and their applications.

(Offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer)Prereq: PSY 101 or permission of instructor

BIO 194 Comprehensive Anatomy and Physiology - 4 credits

A one semester survey of human anatomy and physiology. Students learn basic concepts of chemistry and cytology in order to understand human systems as well as the structure and function of organs, organ systems and their interactions. This course may involve dissection. NOTE: Students may receive credit for only one of the following: BIO 105 or BIO 107 or BIO 117 or BIO 194 or BIO 215 (BIO 195). Students may receive credit for BIO 106 or BIO 216 (BIO 196), but not for both.

(Offered: Every Fall, Every Spring)Prereq: ENG 090 and ENG 094, or satisfactory placement

NUR 103A Fundamentals of Practical Nursing - 10 credits

Introduces the nursing process as a holistic approach to studying physiological and psychosocial adaptations common to individuals and families experiencing health problems across the lifespan. The course explores foundational concepts underlying practical nursing practice such as patient-centered care, cultural competency, evidence-based practice, legal and ethical responsibilities, and role of the practical nurse in the complex healthcare environment. The course presents knowledge fundamental to safe and effective nursing practice including physical assessment techniques, the aging process, safety and infection control, medication administration and pharmacodynamics, wound and ostomy care, nutrition and therapeutic diets, implications for the patient undergoing surgery, pain management, therapeutic communication, end of life care and grieving. Students may receive credit for NUR 103 or NUR 103A but not for both. Special Requirement: Concurrent enrollment in NUR 103C required.

(Offered: Every Fall)Prereq: ENG 101 with a C or better. Either a C or better in BIO 194 taken within the last 5 years or concurrent enrollment in BIO 194; or a C or better in BIO 216 within the last 5 years, or concurrent enrollment in BIO 216. PSY 101 with a C or better or concurrent enrollment in PSY 101. This course is limited to Practical Nursing majors only. Recomm: PSY 217

NUR 103C Fundamentals of Practical Nursing Clinical - 2 credits

Provides clinical learning opportunities in long-term care settings. The course emphasizes interview techniques and nursing assessment of older adults. Clinical experience provides the opportunity to practice fundamental nursing skills that facilitate safe, and effective patient-centered care. Students may receive credit for NUR 103 or NUR 103C but not for both. Special Requirement: Students need to arrange travel to and from clinical sites and observation sites.

(Offered: Every Fall)Prereq: ENG 101 with a C or better. Either a C or better in BIO 194 taken within the last 5 years or concurrent enrollment in BIO 194; or a C or better in BIO 216 within the last 5 years, or concurrent enrollment in BIO 216. PSY 101 with a C or better or concurrent enrollment in PSY 101. Concurrent enrollment in NUR 103A. This course is limited to Practical Nursing majors only.

NUR 105 Practical Nursing Clinical - 2 credits

Provides clinical learning opportunities in structured health care settings. The course focuses on nursing assessment and interview techniques of adults experiencing common, well-defined health problems. Clinical experience provides the opportunity to continue to practice fundamental nursing skills that facilitate safe, and effective patient-centered care. Special Requirement: Students need to arrange travel to and from clinical sites and observation sites.

(Offered: Every January)Prereq: NUR 103A (NUR 103) with a grade of C or better and successful completion of NUR 103C, BIO 194, PSY 101

NUR 107A Nursing Care of Patients and Families - 9 credits

Focuses on the role of the practical nurse in the delivery of basic preventative, therapeutic, and restorative nursing care in structured health care settings. The course emphasizes patients and their families as holistic beings adapting to common well-defined health problems. The student uses nursing process as a framework to study physiological and psychosocial responses to actual and potential health problems in patients of all ages. The course provides review of anatomy and physiology and instruction on pathophysiology across the lifespan, nursing assessment, diagnosis and interventions, diagnostic tests and procedures, common therapeutic measures, and patient education. The course includes trends and entry into nursing practice. Students may receive credit for NUR 107 or NUR 107A, but not for both. Special Requirement: Concurrent enrollment in NUR 107C

(Offered: Every Spring)Prereq: Successful completion of NUR 105, PSY 217 with a C or better or concurrent enrollment in PSY 217. This course is limited to Practical Nursing majors only.

NUR 109A Advanced Concepts in Practical Nursing - 2 credits

Continues to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for utilizing the nursing process to deliver holistic nursing care to individuals and their families as they adapt to common, well-defined health problems. Course topics include maternal, child and family nursing as well as leadership skills. Students may receive credit for NUR 109 or NUR 109A, but not for both. Special Requirement: Concurrent enrollment in NUR 109C

(Offered: Every Spring)Prereq: NUR 107A (NUR 107) with a grade of C or better and successful completion of NUR 107C. PSY 217 with a C or better. This course is limited to Practical Nursing majors only.

NUR 109C Advanced Concepts in Practical Nursing Clinical - 3 credits

Focuses on the integration and application of the nursing process in the final clinical course of the program with opportunities to practice leadership and delegation skills in the clinical area. The course emphasizes consistent utilization of the nursing process and implementation of clinical reasoning skills. Students may receive credit for NUR 109 or NUR 109C, but not for both. Special Requirement: Students need to arrange travel to and from clinical sites and observation sites.

(Offered: Every Spring)Prereq: NUR 107A (NUR 107) with a grade of C or better and successful completion of NUR 107C. PSY 217 with a C or better. Concurrent enrollment in NUR 109A. This course is limited to Practical Nursing majors only.

Students in this full-time program take 43 credits of rigorous liberal arts and sciences as well as clinical nursing courses over a period of 40 weeks, from the beginning of September through the end of June.

Sample schedule only, subject to change.

Fall Class: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-11am
Skills Lab: Monday or Tuesday, 12-3pm
Clinical: Thursday or Friday, 7am-3pm
January Intersession Clinical: Tuesday-Thursday 7:30am-9:30pm
Spring Class/Lab: Monday & Thursday, 8am-2pm
Clinical: 12 hours of clinical, either two (2) 6-hour days or one (1) 12-hour day, including Sundays
May/June Monday & Tuesday, 8am-1:30pm
Clinical: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday 6:30am-2:30pm or Thursday & Friday, 6:30am-6:30pm

Category: LPN

No, you must complete all of the application requirements before submitting your application.

Category: LPN

We recommend no more than 20-24 hours per week of work. Most students find anything more than this very difficult to manage. If you’ve taken some of the non-nursing courses ahead of time, it’s possible to do a bit more than this. But very few people have ever made it through the program working full-time. Research shows that successful completion of the PNC Program is enhanced if concurrent outside employment is less than 20 hours per week. While employment for nursing students may be necessary, they should not overextend themselves, compromising their performance and jeopardizing their progression in the program. For example, research indicates that working more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period increases the risk of error, and classroom and clinical attendance is the same as paid work in terms of fatigue and risk for error.

Category: LPN

Admission to the PNC program is a rolling admission. Once the application requirements are complete, students may submit a program application. Academic requirements to apply to the program are as follows (additional materials are required; refer to the informational packet for a complete list of requirements):

  • Test out of or complete MAT 095 with C+ or better within 5 years of entering the program
  • Complete English Composition I with a C or better
  • Complete one science course (BIO 126, 194, 215 or 216) with a C or better within 5 years of entering the program
  • Complete the TEAS test with a 50% composite score, 50% reading score and 55% math score (TEAS tests can be taken up to three times per application cycle and scores are good for two years)
Category: LPN

It is ten-months long starting in September and running through late June. It is full-time with approximately two weeks off at Christmas and one week off in March. You are required to attend all scheduled classes to stay in the program. The state board of nursing sets the required number of hours of clinical and classroom instruction. These must be met to meet the requirements of the practical nursing certificate program. Students are expected to attend all classes, laboratories, clinical experiences, related activities, and to arrive on time.

Category: LPN

Classes begin at 8am, clinical days start at 7am. Evening and weekend clinical experiences are necessary and some day clinicals may start earlier than 7am. Most clinical days are between seven and eight hours. Class days run until approximately 3pm. Download our Practical Nursing Program Information Packet for a sample course schedule.

Category: LPN

In order to succeed in the program, students must be prepared for the amount of study and class preparation that is required. Generally, there are 4 major exams in a semester, which works out to approximately one per month. Also, there are at least 2 major papers due every semester. In addition, students must complete quizzes, lab sheets and homework assignments. There will be about 50-100 pages of reading every 1-2 weeks during the program. Skills lab, especially in the fall semester, will require time for the student to prepare and may include reviewing software, practicing skills in preparation for demonstration to an instructor, etc. Throughout the program, clinical will require review of the patient assignment on the night before the clinical day and, often, a written report due on the following day. It is very easy to get behind very quickly, so students are advised to plan to study for a few hours on most days while the course is in session. The faculty do want every student to be successful, so please review your personal schedule now and plan accordingly. We strongly advise that students do not plan to work more than 20-24 hours/week and to make adequate daycare plans for children.

Category: LPN

The current starting average salary in this area is about $24/hour plus differentials for weekends and off-shifts. Salaries increase rapidly thereafter. Per diem salaries (i.e., without benefits) are even better. After about a year, it is reasonable to expect to make $30,000-$35,000 per year, or more with differentials and some overtime.

Category: LPN

Once the program is full, a waitlist is started. There is typically quite a bit of turnover in the acceptance list so those on the waitlist could anticipate acceptance for the fall if enrollment requirements are completed.

Category: LPN

Yes, GCC does offer a bridge program. Graduates of the practical nursing program are eligible to apply to the GCC Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program as a second-semester or second-year student through the GCC Advanced Placement Bridge Option once they are licensed. A realistic plan for most students would be to complete the GCC PNC Program in 10 months; work for a year gaining experience as a nurse while completing admission requirements; enter the GCC ADN Program through one of our Advanced Placement Bridge Options.

Category: LPN

In a word, yes. It is very intensive with few breaks in the schedule. Every course must be passed to stay in the program, and students must earn a grade of 74 or higher to pass each course. Many find the Anatomy and Physiology course as difficult as the nursing courses. However, most students say that if you can put your life on hold for ten months and focus intensively on your schoolwork, the effort is well worth it because you will have a rewarding career when you are done.

Category: LPN

This is a question that is often discussed in nursing circles, and not everyone agrees on the answer. Many people believe the difference is in the types of skills an RN can do that the LPN cannot. But this has changed greatly with changes in the healthcare system and is no longer accurate today. Basically, the difference is one of depth and breadth. The Practical Nursing Certificate Program (PNC) is 10 months long, while the shortest Associate Degree in Nursing Program (ADN) runs two years. Obviously, there is more opportunity in an ADN program to study topics in more depth and detail.

For instance, the Practical Nursing Certificate Program (PNC) includes one course studying the course of diseases; an ADN program will have at least two. Also, the PNC program does not have as much time to study the specialty areas such as Pediatrics, Psychiatry, etc. An ADN program generally has an entire course devoted to each of these areas. Finally, there are differences in opportunities. With the additional preparation of an ADN program, that person will have a greater variety of positions and specialties to choose from. However, Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses are both nurses and are responsible for the care they deliver. LPNs participate in all areas of nursing care.

Category: LPN

LPNs work primarily in long-term care facilities, such as rehabilitation units and nursing homes. Other common areas are physician’s offices and health centers. Occasionally, graduates find jobs in prisons, schools and hospitals.

Category: LPN

Classes are held at 168 Industrial Drive in Northampton. Clinical experiences are within 50 miles of Northampton, in Franklin County and Vermont.

Category: LPN

If you enjoy helping people directly and are seeking a well-paying position with good job security and benefits, a career as an LPN might be a good choice for you.

LPNs are generally considered to be “bedside nurses” who deliver hands-on care, but their work also involves careful observation, planning, and evaluation of the health care they deliver to their patients. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a steady increase in the number of LPN positions over the next decade, and there are more such positions opening up throughout Franklin County and the Pioneer Valley.

The Greenfield Community College Jean Simmons Nursing Endowed Chair Fund awards scholarships to GCC students and alums pursuing a nursing career. The endowment funds annual scholarships for individuals to support seamless education progression in nursing.

Individuals eligible for these scholarships are:

  • Certified Nursing Assistants/Home Health Aides who have been accepted and enrolled in the GCC Practical Nursing Certificate Program
  • Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurses or recent graduates of a practical/vocational nursing program and have been accepted and enrolled in the GCC Associate Degree Nursing Program
  • Registered Nurses who are graduating from or are graduates of the GCC Associate Degree Nursing Program.

If you are enrolled in or a graduate of this program, you may be eligible for a Jean Simmons Nursing Scholarship. 

Learn more, find deadlines and apply online at

Graduating Class 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
First-time pass rate on National Council Licensure Exam for Nurses (NCLEX-PN) 92% 89% 77% 100% 79% 90%
PN program completion rate within 36 months 78% 85% 53% 84% 68%
Graduates employed as PNs within 6 months 78% 84% 100%