20 Oct LPN | Licensed Practical Nurse Programs
Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is your first step to a career in nursing and can be the start of a long and rewarding journey.
An LPN is an entry-level job in nursing and qualifies you to help Registered Nurses (RNs) and physicians provide essential healthcare to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and doctor’s surgeries.
As a licensed practical nurse, you will help RNs monitor patients and take their vital signs. You’ll also prepare and deliver injections and medication, perform routine lab tests, collect laboratory samples, help feed and bathe infants and assist patients with their general hygiene and grooming.
To qualify as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), you will need to undertake a comprehensive 12-month nursing program. This will teach you the fundamentals of nursing, basic healthcare, nutrition and even identifying poisons. You can enroll in an LPN program through colleges, universities and private nursing schools in all US states.
You need to be at least 18 years of age and have your high school diploma with good grades in biology, science and math to be accepted into an LPN nursing program. An overall grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 on a scale of 4.0 or 2.5 on a scale of 5.0 is essential and credits from health and science-related high school subjects are very beneficial.
Most nursing schools require you to have your transcript of records (TOR) mailed directly from your high school to the LPN nursing school. Transcripts delivered by hand by applicants are usually rejected so if you are applying to a licensed practical nurse program do not overlook this requirement. A general education development (GED) certificate is necessary if you have been home schooled.
Many LPN nursing schools require at least three character references as well, so ask your high school principal, teachers or any one who knows you well to provide a written reference. If you have undertaken volunteer nursing work at an aged-care home or completed a first-aid course you can ask for references from them.
Some LPN nursing programs require you to complete a pre-entrance examination testing you on basic science, math, grammar and English comprehension. Depending on how well you do, you may be asked to complete pre-requisite courses covering biology, chemistry, algebra, English and basic healthcare.
Once you have been accepted into an LPN program, you will generally undertake a one-year diploma or certificate program to train as a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) if you are training in California or Texas. The terms LPN and LVN are interchangeable and both perform the same nursing duties.
Many LPN programs are structured as the first year of a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). This mean that once you have successfully completed your first year’s study can can either stop there and start working as a Licensed Practical Nurse or continue with the second year to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
LPN nursing schools and educational programs typically involve 12 months of study and training at a hospital, community college or technical vocational school. Depending on the nursing school that you apply to, tuition costs for LPN programs start around $2000 and many institutions offer students financial aid, scholarships, grants and other financial assistance to pay for their education.
It is extremely important that you only undertake a fully accredited LVN nursing program. If the program is not accredited you will not be able to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN) to get your nursing license. Without the license you will not be able to be employed as a licensed practical nurse. Individual states administer the NCLEX-PN exam to nursing students.
Your LPN license must be renewed every three years and many US states require you to have undergone additional nursing education during that time-frame such as nursing seminars, nursing courses, workshops and advanced healthcare training. This is in addition to the experience you have obtained working as a licensed practical nurse in a hospital or medical center.
Once they have finished their LPN program and passed the NCLEX-PN examination, many young nurses get a job immediately. Some are content to remain as a Licensed Practical Nurse throughout their career but for most it’s the stepping-stone to become a Registered Nurse (RN). Or even a Nurse Practitioner (NP), which requires completing a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or a Master’s Degree in Nursing.
To become an RN, you will need to undertake an additional 12-months nursing training after you have finished your LPN course so you are eligible to sit the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) exam and obtain your RN nursing license.
One of the most popular ongoing study programs for any new Licensed Practical Nurse is the LPN to BSN bridging program. This gives you the opportunity to study for your Bachelor’s degree in nursing which for many hospitals today is an entry-level requirement to get a job with them.
Whatever you decide, there are many career opportunities once you have qualified as a licensed practical nurse. New advances in medical technology and a Federal push for more community healthcare centers means that LPNs have more career choices than ever today.
Job opportunities for a licensed practical nurse are projected to grow by 22 percent over the next eight years with the greatest demand coming from community home health services, nursing homes and aged-care homes. America’s fast aging Baby Boomer population means that millions of elderly people will require round-the-clock health care in the coming decades.
As a licensed practical nurse, you will play an essential role in caring for those elderly patients who have routine surgery performed at a medical center or doctor’s office. You may be required to provide assistance both in the medical facility and at the patient’s home because of this growing trend to move more care out of hospitals. A licensed practical nurse you can expect a starting salary of around $40,000 annually.