A job in practical nursing is a popular entry point to a career in health care. Licensed practical nurses–LPNs–perform job duties under the supervision of registered nurses and are typically responsible for a variety of tasks including assisting patients with the activities of daily living, taking vital signs, changing surgical dressings, collecting blood samples and assisting doctors or surgeons with standard or surgical procedures.
LPNs also monitor patients and update their records to reflect any changes in their condition. Most Licensed Practical Nurse programs take approximately one to two years to complete, depending on the school one attends and the education requirements of the state in which he or she lives.
LPN Training Programs
Practical nursing curriculum will vary widely from state to state; however, the general courses provided by most accredited LPN programs will be similar, and will consist of clinical practicums and classroom studies.
LPN programs are available at private hospitals, traditional colleges, and trade or vocational schools. One can also enroll in LPN programs online if attending a conventional school is not a practical possibility. Almost all LPN programs include courses in anatomy, physiology, professional relationships, general health, mental health, pathophysiology, health promotion and assessment, nutrition, gerontology, communications, pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing, and pharmacology. Clinical skills are typically learned under the supervision of a registered nurse or a licensed nurse practitioner.
After completing the required education, a student must pass a state-approved exam before he or she can become licensed. Most nursing school programs require that prospective students possess a high school diploma or GED before admission to the program is granted; however, some programs accept candidates without a high school diploma provided they pass the entrance exam.
One-Year LPN Programs
Most one-year practical nursing programs are completed at vocational or technical schools. Such programs will include both supervised clinical practice and classroom courses. Classroom studies will include the aforementioned subjects, and the student’s clinical experience is typically acquired in a hospital setting; however, certain schools also provide clinical training in long-term care facilities.
One-year courses do not usually offer a degree in nursing science, but rather award students with a certificate of completion. However, those who graduate from a one-year course have essentially the same employment opportunities as those who have completed a degree program.
Hospital LPN Programs
LPNs who acquire their education at hospitals are awarded diplomas rather than degrees or certificates. Not all states offer hospital LPN programs; however, those that do frequently employ the graduates to fill vacant positions in their facility. A prospective student must be interviewed and agree to a background check and a drug screen before being accepted into such a program. The individual will then be considered a trainee and he or she will begin an orientation period.
After receiving formal instruction on the facility’s policies and procedures, the student nurse will be paired with a registered nurse or a licensed nurse practitioner to complete his or her training. In some states, after the student has successfully competed the training program, he or she is allowed to work before the state exam has been taken, but student nurses are not allowed to work independently until the NCLEX-PN is passed and a license obtained.
A prospective LPN may choose to acquire an associate’s degree in nursing science from a junior or community college. Such programs often include courses such as pre and post-operative patient care, aspects of rehabilitation, chemistry, operating room procedures, physics and microbiology.
Degree LPN programs typically take 18 months to two years to complete, and as with the other LPN training programs, in order to begin practicing as a licensed nurse, one must obtain a passing grade on the required examination in the state where he or she will be seeking employment.
Online LPN Programs
Many people who desire a nursing degree have time constraints that prevent them from attending a traditional school. Such individuals will be pleased to know that a wide variety of LPN Programs are available online, making it possible to pursue a career in nursing without having to attend a bricks and mortar school.
Online schools offer a quality curriculum similar to that of a traditional school, and some online schools also offer degree programs. However, after one acquires the appropriate education online, he or she must typically complete a certain amount of clinical training at a local hospital or other medical facility before a license will be issued. Considering the many benefits of self-paced studies, obtaining a degree online is a welcomed opportunity for numerous individuals.
Specialized LPN training programs are also available and such programs focus on specific areas of nursing such as maternal/neonatal health, gerontology, IV therapy or surgical care. Such courses are ideal for those who have a particular specialty in mind. For example, a student who wishes to work with the elderly in a skilled nursing home may want to pursue a specialized certificate or degree in gerontology.
Career Outlook for LPNs
The employment outlook for practical nursing should be encouraging to most students. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that a 21 percent job growth is expected for the profession by 2018. Licensed practical nurses have several advancement possibilities including enrollment in an LPN-to-RN program. In 2017, the average LVN salary is now $44,090!
The schools in most states offer this type of degree, and due to the shortage of nurses across the country, many states offer grants for nurses who wish to pursue a higher level of education. LPN programs are available to suit almost every budget and lifestyle, and considering the wide range of opportunity within the field of nursing, most people would agree that pursuing such an education is a worthwhile endeavor.
LVNs & LPNs…What’s the Difference?!?
Actually, there is no difference! In the states of Texas and California, LPNs are called LVNs(Licensed Vocational Nurses). So, if you’re in Houston and searching for a practical nursing program, you’d search for LVN programs in Texas.
LVN programs in California are the same as practical nursing programs in other states. They almost all take between 12 to 18 months to complete. Some award Associate degrees, while others award a certificate. One big difference between vocational nursing programs in California vs other states is the cost. For private LVN schools, the tuition can be as much as $40,000! Of course, the average LVN in California makes more than in most other states. All LVN programs need to be licensed by the state nursing board.