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What Will I Learn in a Practical Nursing Program?

Higher Education Articles July 4, 2014

A practical nursing program prepares students for the aspects of direct patient care. After completing the course work, your training will provide you with the necessary knowledge base, depending on the state you live in, for becoming a licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse. Most full-time programs take about a year to complete, but many students take a little longer by studying part-time while they work or perform other duties.

Different Duties

The practical nurse differs from the nursing assistant, whose duties are more administrative, or the Registered Nurse, who takes on a leadership role. Although practical nurses work under the direction of the RN, they sometimes supervise nursing assistants. Practical nurse programs can be found at community colleges, vocational schools, and state colleges. Some hospitals also offer practical nurse programs.

A practical nursing program takes you into the world of direct patient care. Beginning with the most basic applications, such as making the patient’s bed and helping the patient into a comfortable resting position, you will learn how to treat wounds, change bandages, and apply dressings. You will learn basic respiratory care, including oxygen administration. Your studies will include taking lab sample collections as well as checking the patient’s blood pressure, temperature, and other vital functions.

Health and Medicine

Good nutrition and health care are a basic concern of the practical nurse. In a practical nursing program, students are taught the value of preventive health care; that is, filling the nutritional needs, hygiene, and healthy dieting that will prevent future health care problems. They are given the skills to teach preventive health care solutions on an individual and community level.

There is a high concentration on biology involved in a practical nursing program, including human anatomy and physiology. The practical nursing student will study the human body system, including the organs; muscles; and skeletal, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Their course work will also involve cellular biology, genetics, and chemistry.

As a practical nurse, you will study pharmacology, learning the medical use and effects of drugs, pharmacological principles, therapeutics, and applied pharmacology. You will learn specialized therapeutics, such as for cancer patients or multiple sclerosis.

Nurses concern themselves with both the physical and mental well-being of their patients. Practical nursing programs include the sexual development of humans, along with sexual issues such as hormones, sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual and family development. They also study the physical, mental, and psychological development of humans throughout their stages through life.

As the person in the most direct contact with the patient, your role as a practical nurse will be in nurturing both the patient’s physical and mental well-being. A practical nurse needs patience, compassion, and understanding of a patient’s needs. The practical nurse’s training program will provide the tools to become an effective caregiver.

Depending on the program you choose, your completion will qualify you for certification, an associate’s degree, or a diploma. It will also give you the initial background if you wish to pursue advanced education and receive your registered nurse licensing or a bachelor of science within a specialized field.

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