LPN | Licensed Practical Nurse Programs
Do you have a caring attitude, a basic foundation in biology, anatomy or sociology and a genuine desire to help people? If so, you can study to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and work alongside physicians and RNs (registered nurses) to provide reliable and efficient patient care in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Allowing you to interact with and counsel patients, families, and relatives, as well as to further your education through bridge programs, an LPN track is an excellent, practical and economical choice if you’re interested in working in public or private healthcare as soon as possible.
Who is this program for?
An LPN program is fast, comprehensive and straightforward. The information, skills, and procedures you will learn are pragmatic and meant to be directly implemented to assist doctors or other nurses in providing the best quality care within a variety of medical settings. The certification takes relatively little time to obtain, and it is a smart decision if your primary goal is to gather basic qualifications and experience to start working early. Additionally, LPN programs are advantageous and highly sought-after because they usually don’t entail a waiting list. This means that you don’t have to wait until future semesters or continually be denied admission because you didn’t meet certain criteria or other prospective pupils have priority over you. This type of certification is relatively low-cost and requires no waiting list to begin your studies and jumpstart your career.
After completing an LPN program, you will be prepared and eligible for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) which will allow you to practice in a wide range of healthcare facilities (both inpatient and outpatient). You will be trained in the basics of nursing practice and become well-versed in all the medical procedures needed to provide safe care for individuals at different stages of life. If these are professional goals and achievements of interest, then an LPN program is the perfect fit for you.
What can an LPN program do for you?
An LPN is convenient, results-oriented and financially feasible for many prospective nurses. As a graduate of this program, you will be able to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse in collaboration with RNs and doctors, provide direction and a caring environment for patients and their families, as well as facilitate and participate in inter-professional decision-making processes. Your studies will prepare you for this job not only through coursework, rotations and practice simulation, but also through active engagement in interactive learning activities and clinical experiments. Your teachers will help you build a foundation for quality nursing and consolidate your firsthand experience to integrate and apply the knowledge you have learned.
A good LPN program should be affordable, local in terms of clinical locations and close to your home if you want to keep transportation and overall costs low. The track should have tuition assistance available and perhaps even offer distance learning alternatives if you prefer a flexible schedule. There is no longer a stigma attached to online programs nowadays so you can confidently and wholeheartedly engage in this type of study. By the end of the coursework, you will have developed the necessary skills and abilities to become a successful nurse and provide individualized and ethically-consistent medical care to a large number of patients.
Should you become an LPN or an RN?
That is the question on the minds of many future nurses. RN degree seems to be a more popular choice for today’s prospective students, but this doesn’t mea thatn it is the right choice for you. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of becoming a registered nurse or working as a licensed practical nurse. First, the former earns more and has more leeway when it comes to decision-making and patient care planning. On the other hand, an LPN only requires around 18 months of schooling (some colleges prepare you in even less time), whereas an RN needs to commit to anywhere between 2 and 4 years of full-time study. This should not be taken lightly – if you do not have the resources or the option to remain unemployed for the next two years at least, you might consider becoming an LPN and continuing your education after you have landed a secure job with decent pay.
There are some visible downsides or not so “rewarding” aspects of being an LPN. One is that you must (more or less) answer to superiors and implement what they say. You do not have much room to grow in terms of leadership or influence patient outcomes, regardless of your expertise or insight. This may be frustrating at times or even disheartening. It is also less likely that you will receive a promotion over your supervisor. Conversely, a registered nurse can become a much more autonomous caregiver, often planning and offering direct patient care or even advancing to leading or management positions. However, a licensed practical nurse will be able to interact much more frequently and carefully with patients, as well as their relatives. This can be highly rewarding, especially if you have joined this profession to help people and genuinely care for them. You will also be doing invaluable work as an LPN, focusing on the “meat” of healthcare practice and getting results.
What do you need for the program?
To be accepted into an LPN program, you will need to have a grade of C or higher in the following prerequisite courses: English, pre-calculus or math, human anatomy and physiology, biology and health science. It is also recommended that you have basic computer skills and can provide proof of your English language proficiency (both in written and verbal form). There are no college courses necessary for an LPN program.
Once you have met the above requirements, you will need to submit proof of citizenship. If you are coming from outside the U.S., you need to provide the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) official score to ensure that you have a good command of the English language. You need a GED certificate or a GPA of 2.0 or above. The application process is quite lengthy, so make sure you gather all the necessary documents early on to submit for evaluation in time. Most schools will also ask you to complete a basic test that showcases your scholarly potential (such as the Test of Essential Academic Skills). You will most likely be asked to show up for an interview (usually in-person), so make sure you are prepared to answer a few questions.
Upon acceptance, there are several items you should look out for: a CPR certificate (level C is needed), a criminal record check through the Ministry of Justice, a TB test and a wide array of screenings or immunization records.
What will you learn?
An LPN program will teach you the framework of patient needs, critical thinking skills, ethical and legal concepts and how to employ them, as well as the socialization process of nurses. You will learn about microbiology, nursing theory, human psychology, chronic diseases, statistics, reproductive health and role transition. The theoretical courses will show you how to interact with and manage patients with acute or chronic illnesses, and how to communicate and work as a team with other healthcare professionals to have a fruitful collaboration.
Here are some of the main course outlines of a standard LPN program:
- Professional Practice
- Integrated Nursing Practice
- Human Growth and Development
- Nursing the Client with Acute and Chronic Health Alterations
- Interpersonal Communication
- Introduction to Speech Communication
- Variations in Health
- Adaptations and Practices
- Health Promotion
- Consolidated Practice
- Group Communication and Leadership
How long does the program take?
The exact length of an LPN track will vary according to the school you choose and whether or not you are studying online, part-time or full-time. The latter usually implies anywhere between 16 months and 18 months of study. You are required to complete your credit hours within a maximum of 3 years after the initial start date.
Does the program require clinical hours?
Yes, all LPN programs require you to carry out a minimum amount of clinical hours. This is necessary to help students gain hands-on experience with nursing practice and performing urgent and safe medical procedures in a variety of healthcare settings. It is an essential component to preparing future nurses for interacting with other professionals and developing effective communication skills. Most LPN programs ask for at least 600 hours’ worth of clinical rotations. For example, if you are enrolled in a 15-week program or semester, you will most likely have between 3 and 5 class hours, around 2 lab hours and up to 8 clinical hours.
Are there any online options?
There are no 100% online LPN programs as this type of certification requires an extensive amount of clinical practice and over 600 hours of firsthand experience. This means that you should be wary or completely disregard any school or institution that claims to offer full, 100% online LPN tracks. You will have to be present at a local hospital or medical facility whether you are studying on-campus or using the web.
Traditional coursework can be very draining and time-consuming. Online alternatives offer you the possibility of creating your own learning schedule so you can research and absorb information at your own pace, as well as earn your certification faster than through conventional methods. (Certain online programs will train you and make you eligible to work as an LPN in as little as 12 months.) Luckily, there are countless online options available today. But remember that they all require clinical hours or at least some form of lab practice. Without further ado, here are some of the qualified and acclaimed schools which offer online LPN programs:
- University of Arkansas
- Indian River State College
- Riverside City College
- Fort Myers Technical College
- Palm Beach State College
- Illinois Valley Community College
- Pennsylvania College of Technology
- SUNY College of Technology
- Utah State University
- Spoon River College
- Jefferson College
- CUNY Bronx Community College
- Monroe College
- Isabella Graham Hart School of Practical Nursing
How much does the program cost?
The tuition for LPN programs typically costs around $15,000, but the prices will be different for each college or school. There are several other fees you need to be aware of before enrolling. Among them are an application fee (up to $50), college initiative fee (up to $200), graduation fees, lab fees, student union fee (around $120) and campus resource fee. All of these are not included in the original tuition fee. Also, you will need a lab kit, learning material such as textbooks, uniforms, and other supplies.
There is a multitude of financial aid options available for you. These include grants or research government programs (in exchange for which you will be working in a particular hospital or medical institution after graduation), work-study programs (you practice at your school for a specific number of hours every week), loans (available through the college or the government) and scholarships (based on your financial status or your grades). You can ask for counselling if you need help determining which of these is the right fit.
What about accreditation?
You should always check that the program or school you are considering has received accreditation from an official institution before applying for admission. Unlike RN, BSN, MSN and doctoral programs (all of which are generally accredited by two main organizations), LPN programs receive authorization from The National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency (NLNAC). Under no circumstances should you consider enrolling in a program that has not been granted this type of authorization. You might be ruining your academic future, as well as your career, since most Bachelor’s degree and Master’s level programs do not accept students with certifications from unaccredited institutions. You might not be eligible for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) because your school is not officially recognized and you are considered unqualified for the test.
How much can you earn as an LPN?
The average salary for a Licensed Practical Nurse is $42,400. However, you can earn up to $54,100 per year, depending on the hospital you work in, as well as your level of experience. Here are some of the best, most resourceful jobs you can take up as an LPN:
- LPN in Medical and Surgical Hospital
- LPN in Physician’s Office
- Clinical Nurse
- Charge Nurse
- Office Nurse
- LPN in Nursing Care Facility
- LPN in Community Care Facility for Elderly
- LPN in Home Health Care Services
- Clinic LPN
- Triage LPN
- Pediatric LPN
- Private Duty Nurse