Licensed practical nurses who are known as LPNs, monitor and care for patients by performing standard lab tests, take vital signs, collecting body fluid specimen samples, nursing wounds and administering shots. In this article, we will cover information about training programs for potential licensed practical nurses, course topics, and prerequisites.
Practical Nursing Certificate
Vocational and community colleges and some four-year universities offer practical nursing certificate programs. These courses are usually certificate programs, but sometimes offered as diploma courses. Individuals who enroll in practical nurse training courses can leverage the program to prepare for the national examination that they need to pass before becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN). The programs will qualify the students for entry-level nursing jobs. It usually takes more than a year to complete these courses. In the certificate program, instructions are delivered in live health settings; training is also imparted in various lab skills.
A high school diploma or equivalent qualification is required as part of admission criteria for LPN certificate programs. Some schools expect the students to pass simple aptitude tests that will help them measure students’ understanding of basic English and math. Some programs may subject students to a background check and may require completion of an introductory course in biology. An applicant may be expected to be a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or possess current CPR certification in certain programs.
Coursework in LPN training programs typically combines learning experiences including classroom instruction and supervised hands-on training in clinical settings. Aspiring licensed practical nurses are taught math for medical professionals; in addition, health and science topics. Additional coursework often includes special needs individuals, common nursing practices, medical ethics, psychology, nutrition, physiology, anatomy and biology.
Salary Information and Career Outlook
In May 2010, licensed practical nurses earned an average hourly wage of $19.88 that amounts to an average annual salary of $41,360 while LPNs in the top ten percent took home $56,010 or more (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov)). Job growth of twenty-one percent has been projected during the period of 2008 to 2018, which is higher than the average growth predicted for all professions during the same period. The optimistic forecast is due to the aging American population that is expected to need more healthcare services. While LPNs are usually employed by hospitals; nursing care facilities and home healthcare services are also expected to employ them in the foreseeable future.
Continuing Education Information and Licensing Requirements
While licensing norms vary from state to state; a common requirement in all states is passing the licensing examination (BLS). Aspiring graduates in an accredited nursing school program who wants to earn the LPN designation will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). This is a computerized exam that is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org). Continued education programs need to be completed by LPNs to ensure maintenance of licensure over a period of time. To improve their career prospects LPNs can aim to become registered nurses (RNs). They can accomplish this by completing a registered nurse degree program; in addition, passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.