How to Become an LPN | A Complete Guide

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are essential to the healthcare profession.

These professionals provide long-term care to patients with various injuries, illnesses, and disorders.

Primarily, they act as intermediaries between the patient and higher-level healthcare specialists.

This is done by overseeing the patient’s well-being and aiding other healthcare professionals with daily tasks.

LPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses, physicians, and nurse practitioners.

This allows healthcare specialists to focus on more sophisticated healthcare procedures and tasks.

Finally, LPNs operate in various healthcare settings to improve patients’ daily care in stable conditions.

Without qualified LPNs, registered nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers can’t deliver optimal medical attention at all levels of patient care.

How To Become An LPN

There is a fairly straightforward career path for those who want to become an LPN.

Following the proper training, students can become LPNs in about a year.

This article provides essential information about the LPN program and the requirements needed to enter the field.

Moreover, it details what you’ll learn during training and what to look for when applying to a college/university.

Lastly, depending on your state, the term LPN or LVN may be used interchangeably.

It’s an abbreviation for licensed practical nurse and licensed vocational nurse.

With that said, I will use the abbreviation LPN exclusively for the rest of this article to simplify the content.

Now let’s get started!

1. Acquire a GED or Diploma

The first step to becoming an LPN is to acquire your high school diploma, GED, or equivalent.

Most colleges, universities, and health-focused training institutes require a foundational academic background.

It ensures aspiring students have the formal education to perform well in college-level or advanced courses.

Students that have acquired their high school degree must look for an accredited LPN program.

Fortunately, most vocational schools and community colleges offer programs with sufficient training.

If you’re currently in high school, check if your school offers an LPN program or relevant courses.

Completing these courses will help prepare you for the program or obtain work after completing the training.

2. Complete the Necessary Prerequisites

Some LPN programs require students to take multiple prerequisite courses before entering the program.

For instance, students may need chemistry, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, English, and Math courses.

Students may also require developmental psychology and microbiology classes to qualify for the program,

Nevertheless, the requirements/prerequisites necessary (if any) vary depending on the institute/college.

You must contact the university/school offering the LPN training program to determine their required prerequisites.

Finally, you may complete some prerequisites in high school (if you’re a student) to satisfy the requirements sooner.

3. Enroll in an Accredited LPN Program

Students who satisfy the educational and school requirements can enroll in an accredited LPN program.

While attending the program, you receive textbook lessons and will be taught basic medical care skills.

Textbook lessons include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, basic pharmacology, and other subjects.

Lessons may also involve training on patient evaluation, food safety and nutrition, and infection control.

LPN students learn to assess and identify health issues, bedside care, sanitary practices, and managing daily duties.

Students also learn the legal aspects of healthcare and the importance of patient confidentiality.

With that said, there are numerous other healthcare-related topics LPN students learn throughout the program.

LPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses, physicians, doctors, and other medical professionals.

As a result, students learn how to communicate effectively to ensure patients receive adequate medical care.

Education Goals (Certificate vs. Associates Degree)

The time it takes to complete the LPN program depends on your education/career goals.

Fast-entry nursing programs offer students two options looking to enter the field quickly.

The first program is a 1-year certificate/diploma that quickly enables LPNs to enter the nursing field.

The second program offers a 2-year associate’s degree and additional education and training.

LPNs can transition into the LPN-to-RN program to become licensed registered nurses.

Students who transfer into the RN program may need to take incompleted nursing school prerequisite courses.

Nevertheless, it’s a great way to fast-track into an advanced position within the nursing field.

Whether you want to work as an LPN long-term or become a registered nurse, consider your options.

Consequently, you’ll be better prepared to complete your long-term goals as a healthcare provider.

4. Pass the NCLEX-PN exam

At the end of the LPN program, students must take a state NCLEX-PN exam to obtain certification/licensure.

Because it’s a requirement, nursing students must pass the exam before gaining state approval to become an LPN.

The exam ensures students have the knowledge and skills to provide proper care and perform their duties adequately.

Upon passing the exam and completing the state requirements, you’re officially an LPN!

How to Find a Good LPN Program

Before closing out this article, it is essential to know how to pick a good LPN program.

This is because excelling in the program and passing the NCLEX-PN exam is essential for aspiring nurses.

While many schools offer LPN programs, you must pick one that gives you the best opportunity to learn and succeed.

One thing you can do to find a good school is search for one that offers an accredited program.

Accredited schools are vetted by a well-respected organization such as the ACEN.

The ACEN, or the accreditation commission for education in nursing, provides assurance the state accepts the program.

As a result, students will feel more confident attending the program.

Another measure is to research students’ average passing rate who participate in the school’s LPN program.

This will provide clues about the school’s training success and teaching effectiveness.

Consider using websites that create comparison charts to break down the school’s success rates.

This allows you to browse and select a qualified school quickly.

That said, ensure the website’s data is accurate and from a well-respected source.

Lastly, look for schools that offer additional resources.

This includes after-school training and dedicated tutors.

These resources will help prepare you for your courses and the NCLEX-PN exam.

A good tutor maximizes your chances of doing well in school, and better prepares you once you enter the field as an LPN.

How Long Does it Take to Become an LPN?

Aspiring licensed practical nurses must complete a certification program to become LPNs.

Most people can become certified LPNs in approximately 12 months/one year through an in-person accredited program.

Students who take online/hybrid LPN classes can also earn their certification in about 12 months.

Nevertheless, students who desire to further their education beyond certification can pursue an associate’s degree.

It takes roughly two years to earn an LPN associate’s degree compared to a one-year certificate.

Are There Benefits to an LPN Associate Degree?

The benefits of having an associate’s degree include earning a higher income and better career opportunities.

In addition, LPNs transition from LPN to RN programs more efficiently.

Some schools may allow LPNs with degrees to transfer more credits into the RN program.

Transferring additional credits can enable students to graduate sooner or require fewer courses to complete the program.

Nevertheless, each university is different regarding its requirements, credit transfers, and program length.

You must consult the colleges/universities offering LPN to RN programs to determine their qualifications.

Finally, students with an associate’s degree have extra training and education, which they can utilize in the RN program.

Is Becoming an LPN Difficult?

Whether becoming an LPN is hard depends primarily on the student’s prior education and how effectively they study.

Some students state earning an LPN certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree is no more challenging than prior schooling.

However, those who struggle to study and retain information will likely continue to have challenges finishing LPN school.

Compared to becoming a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, medical student, or physician, it’s much less complicated.

LPNs learn primary bedside care, healthcare procedures and policies, equipment utilization, and other essential skills.

Regardless, they don’t delve into more complex subjects that registered nurses learn to obtain their degree and licensure.

To maximize your success in a program, you must research multiple schools to determine the most suitable institution.

An excellent LPN school has a high student success rate and passing score for the NCLEX-PN exam.

In addition, you’ll need to develop an effective study routine and consider a tutor if you struggle to learn specific topics.

Spending an efficient amount of time learning each subject is essential. to receive the best possible grades.

Finally, study guides, medical terminology books, and online resources exist to help you pass your courses and the exam.

What do LPNs Learn in School?

LPN students learn various topics, procedures, and skills while attending the educational program.

For instance, students learn anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and basic pharmacology, among other topics.

Additional courses can include patient evaluation, food safety and nutrition, and controlling infections.

Students may also learn to manage specific demographics like pediatrics, adult health, and maternity care.

Regarding direct care, LPNs learn to help patients with various movements and how to transition them to/from their beds.

They also learn how to help feed, dress, shower patients, and help with other daily responsibilities.

Because LPNs provide routine bedside care, they’re taught to record vitals and identify the symptoms of medical issues.

It enables them to provide emergency care and immediately consult medical professionals to treat the patient’s condition.

Finally, LPNs obtain education in healthcare policies, sanitary care and guidelines, and emergency care procedures.

Educational organizations vary regarding training programs for LPNs and may provide additional or alternative schooling.

However, the career skills and education mentioned above are relatively common for LPNs in training.

LPN training provides online, in-person, and direct care/clinical education to prepare students for their careers.

What Qualifications do The LPN Students Need?

Students who submit applications and take the entrance exam must satisfy multiple qualifications to join an LPN program.

For instance, students must have a diploma, GED, or equivalent and be 18 years old or the age specified by the state.

Students must complete a background check and drug test and provide the required immunization/vaccination records.

In addition, some institutes require students to acquire health/liability insurance and CPR certification before schooling.

Conditions for LPN Program Acceptance:

  • Must be 18 years old (or of state age)
  • Submit an application
  • Take an entrance exam
  • Complete a background check
  • Get drug test
  • Show Diploma/GED verification
  • Provide immunization/vaccination records
  • Acquire health/liability insurance
  • Obtin CPR certification

The qualification for LPN program acceptance varies depending on the university, vocational school, or training institute.

Therefore, students must research options to determine an LPN school that suits their needs and qualifications.

Are There Online LPN Programs?

Numerous online/hybrid LPN programs offer students a blend of 0nline and in-person training.

Students can complete a percentage of their coursework online rather than attending a physical school.

It provides them with more flexibility regarding their schedule and commuting ability.

Nevertheless, students must attend in-person training when completing clinical hours or hands-on lessons.

Are There Accelerated/Fast-Track LPN Programs?

Finding an accredited accelerated/fast-track LPN program is rare and can be challenging.

Depending on the student’s academic goals, schooling generally takes one to two years.

An excellent LPN school offers comprehensive education and training that takes multiple months to learn effectively.

Therefore, you must carefully research training institutes offering accelerated or fast-track LPN programs.

These universities, vocational schools, or training institutes may offer 6-month or 9-month certificates for LPN students.

However, they need to be state approved and enable students to take the NCLEX-PN exam to obtain certification/licensure.

How Much Does LPN Training Cost?

LPN tuition costs vary significantly depending on the community college, vocational school, or training institute.

The student’s academic goals also impact their educational expenses.

For instance, an associate’s degree requires more schooling than a diploma/certificate, which increases tuition costs.

Most LPN training prices range anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000.

Aside from tuition, LPN students must cover typical school expenses.

It includes application fees, registration fees, test fees, school supplies, textbooks, clothing, and other essentials.

Aspiring LPN students who want to keep costs down will want to compare programs to find a low-cost training school.