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LPN Requirements

The licensed practical nurse (LPN) is without a doubt one of the most highly respected careers in the health care industry. This profession typically appeals to individuals who have a good tolerance for a fast-paced work environment with a variety of responsibilities. It revolves around providing basic care to patients in various health care settings, and often acts as a stepping stone to better-paid health careers. LPN classes and training programs – which are offered through community colleges, vocational training centers and some universities – provide individuals with the opportunity to enter this entry-level nursing career. These programs feature learning in both classroom and clinical settings.

LPN Class Requirement

The path to becoming a licensed practical nurse begins with undertaking LPN classes at a state-approved training institution. Technical schools, community colleges, universities and some hospitals offer training programs, and work closely with the state board of nursing to ensure that graduates have met the minimum hourly and education requirement for licensing. While the LPN requirements can vary depending on the training institution, all aspiring students must first earn a high school diploma or a GED, be 18 years of age, pass a drug test, and pass a criminal background check. Practical nursing training institutions also require applicants to show proof that they are free from tuberculosis (TB) and demonstrate proof of immunity or vaccinations for tetanus/diphtheria, rubella, mumps and chickenpox, measles and hepatitis prior to enrolling. Applicants who don’t meet these minimum requirements may not be allowed to enroll in a practical nursing course. Additionally, most licensed practical nurse training programs require aspiring students to acquire a valid standard first aid certificate, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)-C for Health Care Provider certification and applied suicide intervention skills training (ASIST) before or during the program. Colleges may require applicants to undergo mandatory testing for senior-level biology, chemistry, writing, and math before enrolling.

Required Training Time

Licensed practical nurse training programs typically award diplomas or certificates rather than degrees. Typically, a practical nursing certificate program takes a year to complete. But it’s worth noting that this is not the standard duration for all LPN certificate programs. In some training institutions it is offered as a full nursing program whose duration can range anywhere from 10 months to 2 years. For these programs, the credits earned are likely to transfer if students decide to pursue a nursing degree program such as an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Practical nursing diploma nursing programs generally take 2-3 years to complete. However, the exact duration of an LPN program will depend upon which nursing school you enroll in and the study option that you choose. Full- and part-time study options are available. In most cases, full-time students complete the program in 2 calendar years, while their part-time counterparts complete the program in 3 years. All LPN programs include classroom instruction, laboratory work and clinical rotations – which allow students to gain requisite hands-on experience in nursing and direct patient care. Part-time students take classes in the evening, and attend clinical rotations on the weekends or Sundays and Mondays. While these part-time programs may take longer to complete than full-time programs, they can be a great choice for busy students or working adults who must maintain a full-time job during the day. Online LPN courses are also available. These courses are designed to address cost and time, and are typically much less expensive and easier to complete, since you don’t have to rely on the resources of the school. All you need is an internet-connected device to study and complete coursework.

LPN License Requirement

After completion of the training program, graduates are required to register to take the NCLEX-PN (or National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses) exam. This exam is administered in all 50 states by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and requires a $200 fee. It consists of a practical section and written questions and can be taken via computer. Graduates must pass the NCLEX-PN in order to become licensed. Needless to say, the exam is the final step for becoming a Licensed practical Nurse and, therefore, every graduate, whether from a LPN certification online program or from in-campus program, would ultimately have to face this competency exam in order to gain licensure. It’s only after passing this exam that candidates receive licensure and become eligible to practice in the profession. Graduates of a certificate or diploma program in practical nursing who have not completed the recommended hours for certification may have to seek additional training. This is because candidates are required to provide proof of meeting all training requirements in order to be allowed to sit for the test. The credit hours required for gaining eligibility to sit in the NCLEX-PN certification exam is generally different in each state. So it is important that candidates contact their state board of nursing in order to get accurate information relating to the training and education requirements they should fulfill to become a licensed Practical Nurse in the state. Aspiring LPNs should also take caution when selecting an online training program since enrolling in an unaccredited program could see them being denied a chance to take the NCLEX-PN exam.

Licensed Practical Nurse Jobs

After successfully obtaining licensure, licensed practical nurses are free to seek employment in any health care setting. Currently, there are many job opportunities for LPNs in long-term nursing facilities, general care hospitals, private medical offices, community health centers, and even in patients’ homes. These employment opportunities are expected to increase tremendously over the next five years, which means things can only get better. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of licensed practical nurses will increase 22% from 2010-2020. This job growth is notably faster than the average for all occupations, and is fueled by a number of factors, including: the ever growing number of people who aged and disabled and in need of long-term care, availability of improved medical treatment options, increased demand for healthcare from the public, and the many licensed practical nurses leaving the occupation for greener pastures. In fact, this strong job growth is expected to generate over 155,000 new job openings, providing amazing opportunities for graduates in this field.