Following the path to become a License Practical Nurse (LPN) or the equivilant LVN Licensed Vocational Nurse is one of the most rewarding career journeys. Aside from the fact that it’s a lifesaving profession, it is projected that the demand for LPNs will increase by an impressive 25 percent by 2022 based on information gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Interested in salary scales for LPN / LVN’s – we got that covered.
While the duties of Registered Nurses (RNs) are usually identical in all states, the responsibilities of LPNs vary from state to state. Usually they are tasked with checking patients’ vitals, monitoring IVs,as well as administering oral medication and injections but this may vary based on their work environment.
Some states give employers a lot of freedom to decide what LPNs can do on the job while others are guided by strict regulations on what they are allowed to do. New York and California have strict guidelines which LPNs are expected to adhere to. In some cases, LPNs are not utilized enough because their supervising RN is not sure about what task they are allowed to perform.
Enrolling in an LPN program is the main point of entry for anyone who wants a career in this field of nursing. Individuals who had started a higher-level nursing degree (e.g. Bachelors Degree in Nursing) but did not complete or pass the licensing exam may also get VIP entry into the career.
LPN Course Duration
One of the main perks of becoming a LPN is the short duration of the program. While most professions such as RN training will require 2 to 3 years to complete the educational requirements, most LPN programs take a minimum of 1 year or a maximum of 18 months.
A number of factors may affect the overall duration of the program. In most cases, individuals who opt to attend regular day-classes are more likely to complete the program in a shorter time while those who attend part-time night-classes often graduate at a later date.
Nighttime and weekend classes are generally more ideal for working individuals and parents who have their hands full during the day. Some institutions will also allow students to complete the program in under one year by attending classes for longer hours during the day and taking up more coursework. Of course this may also require that students attend daily classes.
LPN Training Program Cost
The cost of LPN programs generally vary from state to state and often from institution to institution. The average tuition cost for most LPN programs is around $10,000. Program fees for some institutions range from $3,000 to $4,000 while others may cost as much as $25,000.
“Tuition” costs only account for classroom education, so in most cases there are added expenses.
Certainly, this may seem unattainable but there are many options for financial aid in many states. Some institutions will combine all the fees (uniforms, books,stethoscope, etc.) into one figure but the majority of them do not.
Students are responsible for tuition in addition to other expenses such as:
Textbooks: Textbooks are a necessity for students who wish to perform well in the program and depending on the coursework; expenses for textbooks may exceed $1000. Most colleges and vocational schools may provide courseworkbooks in their own bookshop for purchase or their library for rental.
Students should check with their lecturers to ensure that they purchase the correct edition of certain books to avoid any losses.
Stethoscope: A stethoscope is a nurse’s best friend. It is used by medical professionals to study the lung and heart in humans among other purposes. While a stethoscope can be purchased for as little as $20, because it’s such a valuable tool, it’s important to purchase one of good quality. Littmann® Stethoscopes are some of the best on the market, with prices ranging from $75 to $150. These stethoscopes are “louder” and perfect for beginners who are just starting out.
Nursing Supplies and Uniform: Most institutions will require that nursing students wear a uniform, which is usually made up of a top and a scrub pants. Uniforms are generally cheap, costing no more than $20 and suppliers may vary with school. Bandages, scissors and other minor utensils may be required for clinical practice.
Licensing: The next step after completing the program is to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to operate as a licensed nurse. Currently the program is priced at around $200 and in most cases students will have to stand this cost on their own.
Preparing for the exam may also require that students invest in review books, which may increase the chances of passing. The exam is designed to assess if students possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to work in the health sector.
The test is done on a computer and may have as little as 75 questions or as many as 265, of which candidates are expected to score at least 80%. Students should consult with the board of nursing in the state they wish to work so that they can meet the application deadline.
In states such as North Carolina, individuals who apply for licensure have to undergo a background check that may take up to a month. Candidates who are deemed eligible to sit the test will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT), which they are required to present on the day of examination.
Auxiliary Fees: Some institutions may ask students to pay an auxiliary fee for clinical hours, parking etc.
Entry Requirements LPN / LVN
Candidates who wish to be accepted to a LPN program must have completed a high school diploma or its equivalent with a GPA of 2.0. Some schools will ask students to show proof of citizenship and sit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) if English is not their first language.
Generally, based on the students’ preference, this test can be done online or on paper. Institutions may also carry out a background check to ensure that prospective students have no prior criminal convictions.
All LPN programs should be accredited by the National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency (NLNAC). Accreditation signifies professionalism and quality education, which will help students to perform well on the NCLEX.
Most employers will also shy away from students who attended a non-accredited school. To avoid failures, students should always check with the nursing board for a list of schools that offer accredited training.
Today applications for most LPN programs can be done online. Prospective students are required to apply online or by picking up an application at the school’s campus before the application period ends.
Generally applicants are ask to sign that they understand the terms of the school and disclose their qualifications, previous school and whether they have been arrested in the past. Transcripts from the previous school as well as their work history maybe requested.
These programs generally require students to submit a letter of recommendation from someone who is in the position to attest their abilities. The application may also need to be accompanied by an essay in which, students are given the chance to speak about their passion for the field as well as prove their writing and language skills.
Lastly, students may be asked to sit an academic test. These tests are usually designed to cover their knowledge on Science, Math and the English language, before they are admitted to the program.
What to Expect During Your Course
All accredited institutions will cover the same courses in their LPN program. Some schools offer online classes in addition to campus based classes to give students a flexible schedule.
Students are generally required to attend in-person sessions to show if they have a clear understanding of the material but can also access fundamental courses that are offered online. The main courses in the program are as follows:
- Fundamental nursing practices
- Ethical and legal nursing problems
- Geriatric nursing
- Medical-surgical nursing
Despite how the material is designed, all LPN programs are aimed to properly educate students theoretically and practically, to function in healthcare facilities and pass the NCLEX exam.
Training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse is often the first step in a long term career progression – one that can be both fulfilling and financially rewarding. Check out our guides on RN Training and then the advancement to Nurse Practitioner Training.
This really can be the first step towards a great nursing career!