Licensed practical nurses (LPN’s) or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are an important part of the healthcare field.
They provide long-term care to patients who are dealing with a wide range of injuries, illnesses and/or disorders.
These medical professionals also act as an intermediary between the patient and other medical professionals by overseeing and managing the patients condition, and informing other healthcare professionals such as registered nurses, physicians and practitioners of anything that requires more specialized care.
For those interesting in becoming an LPN / LVN the path is fairly straight forward and can be achieved in a fairly short amount of time (1 – 2 years) depending on your long-term career goals.
The rest of this article will provide you with the information you need to learn about the LPN program, what you’ll learn during your training and what to look for in a college, university or vocational school to help you prepare for a career as an LPN / LVN.
P.S. Depending on the state you live in the term LPN or LVN may be used interchangeably as an abbreviation to describe a particular position within the nursing field, however to make things easier and less confusing we’ll focusing use the abbreviation LPN exclusively for the rest of this article.
Prerequisites and requirements
If you’re interested in becoming an LPN you’ll need to start off by acquiring you’re high school diploma, G.E.D. or equivalent before taking part in an LPN program.
If you’ve already completed your degree then you can look into finding a good LPN program, however if you’re currently still a student then you should see if your school has an LPN program or related courses that you can take in order to help you prepare you for work as an LPN.
Some LPN programs may also require students to take prerequisite courses before gaining into into their program.
Prerequisite courses may include Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, Developmental Psychology, Microbiology and courses in both English and Math.
If you’re not sure what prerequisites are required for the program you should contact the institute you plan to attend in order to find out whether your high school courses count as prerequisites or if you need to take them at a community college.
Once you’ve passed you’re prerequisite courses and satisfied the schools requirements you may begin participating in their LPN program.
Education & curriculum
While attending the LPN program you will be taught basic medical care skills, how to properly assess and identify potential medical issues, the legal aspects of healthcare, the importance of patient confidentiality and proper sanitary techniques/management among other important related topics.
In regards to day to day patient care will be trained on:
- Assisting patients with getting in/out of bed
- Dressing or assisting patients with difficult clothing
- Assisting with using the bathroom, shower/bathing and cleaning
- Providing medication and feeding individuals who are unable to feed themselves
- Recording vital signs and updating/maintaining medical records
- Sanitary care and guidelines
- Basic emergency care (CPR, AED etc.)
Because LPN’s work alongside registered nurses, physicians and other medical professionals students will also learn how to communicate effectively and ensure patients receive adequate all around care while they are being treated.
Education goals (certificate vs associates degree)
The length of time it takes to complete the LPN program will depend on your education/career goals.
Most LPN program offer two options for students that looking to enter the nursing.
These programs include a 1 year certificate/diploma, which will allow LPN’s to quickly enter the field and get started and a 2 year associates degree, which offers additional education and training, and may be transferred into an LPN to RN program at a later time.
Whether you’re looking to work as an LPN long term or move into another field of nursing such as registered nursing it may be worth looking at your options when choosing which LPN goal you want to accomplish before entering the program.
The NCLEX-PN exam
At the end of the LPN program students will be required to take a state NCLEX-PN exam before they can begin working (officially) as an LPN.
The exam is designed to ensure students have the knowledge and technical skills that are required to provide proper medical care, and because it is a required state exam nursing students must take and pass the exam before gaining state approval to become an LPN.
Once the LPN exam is passed and students have successfully completed all the state requirements they may officially begin their career as an LPN!
Finding a good LPN program
Before closing out this article it is important to talking about how to choose a good LPN program because big part of doing well in the program and passing the NCLEX-PN exam is choosing the right place to take the LPN program.
While many schools offer excellent programs it is important that you choose a school that will give you the best opportunity to learn and succeed as an LPN.
One of the things you can do to find a good school is to choose a school that offers an accredited program that has been vetted by a well respected nurse organization such as the ACEN or accreditation commission for education in nursing.
Another good step to take is to do some online research and find out the average passing rate of students who participate in the schools LPN program.
Some websites may create comparison charts to help break down the schools success rates so you can quickly browse and decide on a good school, just be sure that the website is accurate and well respected.
Lastly look for a school that offers additional resources such as after school training or dedicated tutors, which can help you gain some additional one on one assistance and prepare you for doing well on your tests and exams.
A good tutor o after school class will help maximize your chances of doing well in school and will better prepare you once you enter the field as an LPN.