Nursing is one of the noblest professions in existence today. Nurses devote their entire careers to making the sick and injured feel comfortable, and helping patients through their recovery. Bright people, with a caring and sympathetic nature, can thrive in this occupation, providing support and care for patients in need. It takes a lot of time and hard work to become a registered nurse, but it is possible to begin working much sooner as a licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse, or LPNs. LPNs provide care to the sick and injured under the direction of doctors and registered nurses.
It typically only takes approximately one year to become a certified LPN, and then you can immediately find work providing much needed care. LPNs perform many of the basic tasks associated with nursing. They are responsible for recording vital signs, giving injections, dressing wounds, collecting and performing routine lab tests, and maintaining patient records. If employed by a smaller private practice, LPNs may also be responsible for clerical or administrative duties.
LPNs provide basic bedside care for patients. These nurses ensure that the patient is safe and comfortable and that all of their basic needs are met. This can mean dressing or feeding patients who are unable to. LPNs gather any information from patients or their relatives and help doctors and nurses determine the best course of care for the patient. LPNs often also provide very helpful information to the patient's relatives regarding proper after care for their sick or injured family member.
LPNs clearly play a vital role in the care and treatment of patients. They must have proper training before they begin work in order to be able to perform their tasks adequately. LPNs must learn to properly observe patients, and develop good decision making skills and effectively communicate with others. LPNs will often work as a team with doctors, registered nurses, and nurses assistants.
There is a growing need for LPNs as there is a growing number of elderly in our population. While the growth of LPN occupations is growing in all areas, those who specialize in nursing home care and long term care with have the most job opportunities available. There is also a lot of room for advancement as a licensed LPN. LPNs can become specialized in specific areas, or begin LPN to RN training programs to become a licensed registered nurse.
Becoming an LPN is an excellent way to quickly create an excellent career. If you have a passion for helping and comforting those in need, in as little as one year you can be working at a job you love, working toward a very successful and well-respected career. LPNs are sure to be in great demand with many employment opportunities in hospitals, private practices, nursing home, home health care programs, long term care facilities, or any other organization that needs professional and trained medical care professionals.
The LPN training curriculum is packed full of topics that you’ll need to master. Just remember that you are being trained on topics so you can pass the NCLEX exam. Some of the topics might seem boring to you at first be rest assured those topics will be test questions on the NCLEX. Below are just some of the curriculum areas your program will cover.
Law & Ethics – An important area in nursing is the legal and ethical side of the business. Mainly due to the fact that people sue hospitals, doctors and nurses and it is up to you to know how the system works and how to protect yourself. Malpractice and negligence lawsuits plague the medical industry and you’ll learn about insurance, laws as well as your responsibility as an LPN and how you fit into the system.
Assessments – One of the first thing you’ll learn about when you start working with patients is how to properly access their state of mind and physical appearance. This is an important phase of nursing as it allows you to gather the right information from the patient in order to start a new record. You’ll learn to be able to review previous medical histories as well as look at symptoms and even risk factors for the patient. You’ll be taught how to give a general physical assessment of the patient including taking vital signs.
Safety – One of the biggest areas you’ll cover is in regards to patient safety. Because you are working with so many risk factors in a hospital you’ll be trained on how to avoid possible injury to yourself and to your patient. Every clinic has safety standards that not only they abide to but are put in place by the federal government in order to limit the risk of injury. These safety features don’t always involve the patient but the facility as a whole. Training will cover topics such as fires, terrorist attacks, earthquakes and other natural disasters that could occur.
Virus Prevention – In a medical facility one of the biggest threats is an outbreak of a virus that could have deadly consequences. You’ll cover viruses and other parasites during your training and how to limit the risk to not only yourself but to the hospital. Procedures including how to properly clean equipment, tools and sterilization techniques will also be covered as well as how to properly dispose of biohazard waste and equipment used.
Since your nursing training will need to be at a campus the first step is to view all of the LPN schools we have listed and find one close to your hometown. Often colleges have more than one campus location is a state or city so be sure to find the closest one. Often some states don’t have the training you need and you’ll need to decide if moving just for your training is a good idea. Below are some of the key things to look at when choosing a LPN program.
Tuition Costs – A big factor when looking into a LPN school is the overall tuition costs. This can vary by state and by school. What most people don’t realize is that all programs must be approved by the nursing board so they all meet or exceed the standards to be able to carry the program. Because of this we recommend simply finding the lowest priced one. You’ll see programs typically ranging from $10,000 to as high as $30,000.
State Exam Pass Rates – When you complete your necessary training one of the first thing you’ll want to do is take your LPN state exam which is called the NCLEX-PN. This exam is designed to test you on everything you learned during your training. Many schools offer test preparation materials for your NCLEX so we recommend taking full advantage of these resources as the exam overall has a national pass rate of around 69%. They have a repeat pass rate of only 32%.
Accredited Programs – As mentioned all schools must be accredited in order to offer the LPN but make sure that your school not only is accredited but the program qualifies you to take the NCLEX. We have seen a few schools that were nationally accredited as a college but their program didn’t qualify for the students to take the national exam. Typically these programs are just called nursing programs and not actually an LPN. It is also a good idea to check out your state nursing board to make sure the school you want to attend is listed.
Externships – During your program the school will need to have clinical rotations already lined up with a local facility. As part of your training you’ll need hands-on experience. One of the most important things before enrolling is you need to find out where you’ll be doing your rotations. It may be possible due to the size of your town that only a few options are available. What you don’t want to have to do is travel a great distance due to the fact your school doesn’t have local relationships already set-up.
Referrals – Probably the best thing to check before enrolling in an LPN school is simply to ask around for referrals. Ask other LPN’s where they attended school and what they liked as well as what they disliked about the program.
Paying for School – If you are like most students you can’t simply pay cash for your training and will require some form of assistance. The great news is most of the LPN colleges we list accept federal financial aid. This aid is on a need basis but if you qualify some might not have to be paid back where some loans are set-up on 5,10 or even 15 year loans which makes your payments easier. These loans are backed by the US government so the interest rates are low. Scholarships are another way you can help pay for your nursing career. We recommend asking the school if they first offer any first-time student scholarships.
If they do take advantage of them but you can also look online as often state specific websites might offer nursing related scholarships. Just because you accept one scholarship doesn’t mean you can’t accept others. The last thing to check is if your school offers any work study programs. These are great as you’ll be working at the school while you attend classes. Often you’ll be working in clinical labs or helping instructors with grading. This is a great way pay for college as it might be only a few hours a week.
Licensed Practical Nursing BLS
National Federal of Licensed Practical Nurses - http://www.nflpn.org/
American Nurses Association - http://www.nursingworld.org/
National Council of State Boards of Nursing - https://www.ncsbn.org/index.htm
National Black Nurses Association - http://www.nbna.org/
The Joint Commission - http://www.jointcommission.org/