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A Review of the Training Process for LPN's

By: Kelly McCloskey
What is an LPN?

Outlook Much fast than average
Salary Range $32,510 - $60,420
Data Source: US Dept. of Labor

Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Licensed Vocational Nurse (as it they are known in some states) requires a two part education process. The job itself, however, requires patience, stamina, great attention to detail and, of course, being able to work well under pressure as well as being part of a larger medical team.

The duties of an LPN encompass everything from helping patients with their own basic hygiene and caring or feeding infants to the collection of lab samples, offering education to patients and their families regarding healthy habits and supervising nursing aides and assistants. In short, an LPN is able to offer well rounded care to his or her patients in any healthcare environment. As a result, they are in demand throughout every field of healthcare. These health professionals are able to work in a wide variety of hands on care facilities as well as working in administrative roles supervising aides and offering both clinical and administrative support.

Studying to Become an LPN

These health professionals begin their career by attending an accredited nursing program through their local college. These programs are available nationwide and are often offered through community colleges as well as specialized schools which focus on degrees in the healthcare field. Many of these programs are also offered by online universities which offer incredibly flexible scheduling for students who may already be working full time when they decide to pursue a career in nursing. These courses often only require that students have a high school diploma or equivalent in order to begin their training. However, some advanced courses within the nursing program require that students have completed underlying courses.

For example, in many programs, courses on Geriatric Nursing or Medical-Surgical Nursing cannot be taken until basic, core classes such as Fundamentals of Nursing, Biology or Human Nutrition have been successfully completed. Wherever the courses are offered, students should be sure the courses and program as a whole are approved by their state's Board of Nursing in order to ensure they will be able to become a fully licensed nurse once their education is complete.

During their course work, students can expect to spend most of their time reading case histories, text books and studying and memorizing names for bones and muscles as well as other Nursing and medical terminology. Many classes require students to be able to communicate effectively as a way to hone their communication skills for their career. One of the most vital parts of a career as an LPN is the ability to effectively communicate information about a patient to other nurses, doctors and additional care staff as needed. This information must be able to be conveyed both verbally and through meticulous patient note-taking. Advanced coursework may focus on specific areas of care such as psychology and can also focus in on niche areas such as Newborn Units care and working with geriatric patients.

Once the coursework is completed, LPNs must then spend a year working and studying in a hospital environment. This allows them to see how their coursework can be applied in a real world setting and also allows them to further their education by learning from nurses, aides and doctors who have worked in the field for many years. This kind of on-the-job training and education offers LPNs the invaluable opportunity to see what they'll be doing once they get their own license and may help LPNs to decide if they want to try and specialize in a specific area of health care such as working with the elderly or with infants and children.

Beginning A Career As An LPN

Education Once the student has completed their coursework and time training in a hospital they will need to take a Nursing Licensure Test which is administered as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Each state conducts their own testing and students receive help with test preparation as well as scheduling through their Board certified university.

Once they have passed this final exam, the student will be officially a fully licensed LPN, able to work anywhere he or she chooses.

Career opportunities can be found in almost any healthcare environment. As of 2011 the projections for employment growth for LPNs was predicted to rise at least 20% by 2020 and with a generation of Baby Boomers approaching retirement age along with younger people taking a more keen and active interest in their own health, the opportunity for growth is almost endless.

A degree and experience working as an LPN can also open up many opportunities for career advancement. Some nurses choose to further their studies and refine their skills in order to work within a niche segment of healthcare. Still others build on their LPN degree in order to achieve a Registered Nurse (RN) degree which offers them more responsibility as well as greater earning potential.

A Review of the LPN Degree Process

In short, becoming an LPN is a simple process. The basic steps to becoming an LPN are:

  1. Enroll in a Board certified Nursing Program through an online university or offline campus
  2. Complete both the coursework and hospital training
  3. Study for, take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination .

Once these three steps have been completed, students may pursue their career in the field of nursing by taking a job in a hospital nursing home, assisted living facility, physician's office or anywhere else LPNs and nursing staff are in demand

With the healthcare fields growing year upon year, nurses are always in demand. This is due, in part, to the versatility they bring to the field. The duties and responsibilities of an LPN are wide reaching and impact literally every part of the healthcare process. From a patient's initial intake information, throughout their stay and ongoing care, all the way to their ultimate release from the hospital, LPNs are with them every step of the way. From taking their detailed health information, drawing lab samples, answering questions on treatment and offering ongoing support and education, LPNs help to make a patient feel not only well cared for but cared about.

I. U.S. Department of Labor, “Occupational Outlook Handbook”, (May 2016), http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm.


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