How To Become An LVN

Working as an LVN involves taking care of patients in many different and diverse settings. The majority of people who are employed as a licensed practical nurse, work in health care facilities or hospitals.

They can also work in clinics, private homes or be traveling LVN’s who work all over the world. Healthcare is a fast growing industry and nursing positions are needed everywhere.

The working week is typically 40 hours long with weekend or night shifts for individuals who work in institutions where 24 hour care is important. There are nurses who work on a part time basis or on call basis. Your daily tasks will be supervised by a registered nurse or physician and include:

Duties of an LVN

  • Ensuring patients are cleaned, bathed and dressed
  • Monitoring patients for any signs of reactions to medication and treatment
  • Keep records and measure a patient’s vitals such as weight, blood pressure, height, temp. and pulse.
  • Making sure patients take their meals and assisting with physical exercises
  • Administering medications through injections or orally
  • You will also be expected to assist registered nurses or physicians with their duties.

Attributes An LVN Must Have

There are certain attributes a licensed vocational nurse must have to be effective at work. As a start, your communication skills should be good. This is not confined to just oral communication skills, but encompasses written skills as well. You must have a caring and compassionate personality to deal with patients. Remember that most of your patients might not be cooperative and require patient prodding during treatment.

Your work will also involve interacting with fellow nurses, aides, and physicians. This calls for someone who can thrive and gel in a team work environment. Due to the nature of the work, you should be able to handle stress, strenuous workloads, and emotional lows without breaking down. A dose of humor will serve you well during such periods. Learning is a continuous experience and detail oriented individuals find this very easy to cope with.

LVN Training And Licensing

If you are interested in becoming a licensed vocational nurse, there are several requirements that must be fulfilled before you decide to enroll in a training program.

High School Requirements

You will not be accepted into most LVN programs without a high school diploma. This includes having studied subjects such as algebra, chemistry, biology, first aid, English, geometry, psychology, history, food and nutrition, and emergency medical technology.

College Requirements

You can only register for a vocational nursing program with a high school diploma. You must then finish an accredited program and top that by passing the national licensure examination. The learning programs involve both class work and supervised clinical practice. You can begin a career as an licensed vocational nurse after passing the NCLEX-PN. Most LVN programs last for approximately one year. There are some accelerated nursing programs can be completed in as little as 11 months. Most LVN programs in California take between 12 to 18 months to complete.


The one year study program prepares you to register and sit for the NCLEX-PN. However, before sitting for the NCLEX-PN, you must take the Authorization to Test (ATT). This qualifies one to sit for the main exam. Your preparation must be thorough as the NCLEX-PN covers what you have been learning in class and clinical practice. The exam is limited to five hours with 85 and 205 test questions. Most of the questions take a multiple choice format though other formats are also used. After answering questions to prove competence above or below the expected pass standard, the exam stops.

Training Programs And Coursework

Your class work will include discourses in nutrition and diet, physiology, pharmacology, and anatomy. Additional classes might involve studies in pediatrics, psychiatric nursing, surgical nursing, and maternal nursing. Out of class clinical work is normally supervised by a working nurse or instructor in a hospital setting. Most LVN programs in Texas also require a class in sociology.

Online LVN Programs

Advances in web technologies have made it possible for students to take online courses without disrupting daily work schedules. Some of the LVN programs you can study online include:

  1. BS in Nursing Administration.
  2. Associate in Applied Science in Nursing.
  3. Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
  4. Associate in Science in Nursing.

It is impossible to learn nursing without getting involved in some kind of hands on training and this is true for online LVN programs. The most reputable online LVN trainers have been accredited and include practical clinical experience as part of the study schedule.

Begin by searching for online institutions that offer programs near where you are. This will make it easy to attend onsite classes while taking the rest at home or from your work place. The amount of time spent studying onsite is quite minimal at about 10 percent. The remaining 90 percent can be taken from home.

LVN Jobs

A career as a licensed vocational nurse is quite rewarding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities will grow by 21 percent through 2024.

This is much higher than the average growth expectation for other occupations. 25 percent of licensed vocational nurses are employed in hospitals, 28 percent work in nursing facilities, 12 percent in offices, while the remaining 35 percent have been absorbed by various organizations. The outlook is certainly rosy as advances in medical technology mean that patients can visit outpatient care facilities for the same procedures performed in hospitals.

LVN Salary

Salaries are not standard and vary depending on several factors such as experience, location, employer, and education. On average, you can expect to take home $40,000 per year. Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that licensed vocational nurses working in nursing care facilities can make up to $42,590 per year.

Working in a hospital setting earns you $40,250 while working at home health care facilities will see you take home $42,550. A stint at an elderly care facility is enough to swell your bank account by $42,270 with nurses at a physician’s office making $37,480 annually.

If you have not yet clocked one year working as an LVN, the pay will range between $37,181 and $39,886. On the upper end, with more than 20 years under their belt can take home as much as $46,549 per year.

In addition to the basic LVN salary, most employers’ offer healthcare benefits such as savings plan, dental insurance, and retirement plans. If you are looking for the state with the best hourly rates, Connecticut takes the baton with earnings of $25.28 per hour. On the other end, working in the state of Idaho will earn you $14.67 per hour.

Licensed Vocational Nurse Organizations

All professions have some kind of member organizations geared towards fostering unity, certification, and advancement. Due to the universal nature of a nurse’s work, some of the organizations are not limited to the United States. These organizations include:

  • American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • American Academy of Nursing (AAN). An organization which promotes the adoption of evidence based nursing as well as education. The AAN organization has information on many different types of nurses.
  • International Council of Nurses which is based in Switzerland and encompasses global nursing bodies.
  • The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) which oversee the accreditation of nursing institutions and the licensing of nurses in America.
  • The National League for Nursing (NLN) which advocates for nursing education.
  • National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). This body represents all nursing students studying in America. This includes students undertaking PhD programs or post college diploma programs.

The number of organizations are wide and even involve bodies catering to specific specializations such as nurse midwives and practitioners who deal with cancer patients. There are publications and websites dedicated to keeping nurses up to date with relevant information. Some of the publications include the American Journal of Science which is a renowned and respected nursing resource.

Others include Nursing Times, Nursing Ethics, BMC Nursing, Nurse Researcher, Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, and The Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing. Journals dealing with specific disciplines include the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, Oncology Nursing Forum, Cancer Nursing, The Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, as well as Critical Care Nursing.

Join The Nursing Field As A Licensed Vocational Nurse

Overall if you love to help people and you are thinking about nursing as a career field, becoming a licensed vocational nurse is a great choice. The salary will provide an excellent living and if you want to further your career later on you can enroll in one of the many accredited LVN to RN programs. Many people have found fulfillment after choosing to follow an LVN career.