In order to know how to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), it is important to know that a LPN is a nurse who takes care of patients who are sick, who are injured, who might be disabled, and many other health issues. They are not registered nurses who have received a Bachelors in Science in Nursing. In some states (i.e. California, Vermont, and Texas) an LPN is also refered to as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). If you are desiring to become a nurse practitioner, but have not a clue where to start; fortunately, we have done some research for you.
Steps to becoming a licensed practice nurse:
- 1: Enroll in a Training Program
- 2: Complete a Clinical Rotation
- 3: Get Licensed
- 4: Consider a Specialty
- 5: Search For Work or Continue Education
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) play a significant role in the healthcare industry; in many medical facilities, LPNs are a patient’s first point of contact (aside from front-desk staff), and these nurses have an important responsibility to ensure the overall comfort and well-being of these patients. Most commonly, LPNs are found in:
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes
- Hospice facilities
For those interested in a career in the nursing field, getting licensed as a Practical Nurse is a logical first step; that’s because this level requires the least amount of schooling, thus allowing eligible workers to jump into their careers and begin making a difference, and while you are making a difference you can look into online associates degree in nursing which will help you to become a registered nurse. If this is for you, keep reading to learn how to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
Step One: Enroll in a Training Program
Completion of an accredited LPN training program is the first stepping stone to landing a position in this field. Keep in mind that all training programs will require applicants to have, at a minimum, a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). You can typically find LPN programs offered by local community colleges, vocational schools, and even technical schools. Take some time to do your research on a program before you enroll to ensure it’s accredited (preferably by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) and that it’s right for you. Specifically, ask questions like:
- How much hands-on experience will I receive?
- Is there any financial aid available?
- Are classes offered during the day, at night, or both?
- Are online courses available?
From there, you can find the LPN training program that’s right for you. Typically, these programs take about 12 months to complete, but this can vary based on how many credit hours you take each semester.
Step Two: Complete a Clinical Rotation
Most LPN training programs will involve not only formal classroom education but also the completion of a clinical rotation as well. During a clinical rotation, you’ll be placed under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or another LPN while you receive hands-on training in a real-world medical institution. Usually, your school will handle the placement for you, and you can expect to be placed anywhere from a large hospital to a small medical office. The length of your clinical rotation can vary, but for most programs, it’ll last for a few weeks.
During your clinical rotation, you’ll have the opportunity to put what you’ve learned in the classroom into practice. You’ll also be able to work with real patients, which gives you some insight into just what it can be like working in the “real world” as an LPN. You’ll learn rather quickly that to be successful as an LPN, you need to be:
- Quick-thinking in stressful situations
- Able to multi-task
- Patient and friendly with others
Step Three: Get Licensed
Once you’ve completed the classes required by your LPN program in addition to your clinical rotation, you should be prepared to take your licensure exam. Specifically, LPNs are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Keep in mind that you can take this exam as many times as you need to before you pass, but the exam usually isn’t free, so you’ll have to pay each time you re-take it. If you anticipate having trouble paying for your exam, check with your school; many schools offer assistance programs that will help cover expenses related to taking these kinds of required exams, especially for low-income students.
Passing the NCLEX-PN will enable you to receive your license, which will render you legally able to practice within the state in which you took the exam. Depending on where you live, there may also be additional requirements you’ll need to follow before you can obtain your license. For example, some states require that you pass a criminal background check. Be sure to research the specific requirements in your state so you don’t run into any surprises when it comes time for you to get licensed.
Step Four: Consider a Specialty
Once you’re licensed, you might want to consider going for a specialty, which will make you more competitive when it comes to landing your first job as an LPN. There are all kinds of specializations available to LPNs that you may be interested in, such as:
- Intravenous therapy
- Foot care
To earn a specialization, you may need to take an additional class or even attend a one-time course. However, this can be an excellent way to diversify within your industry while also proving to potential employers that you’re an ambitious person.
Step Five: Search For Work or Continue Education
Last but not least, it’s time to put yourself out there and land your first job in the field. The beautiful thing about being licensed as a Practical Nurse is that there’s an enormous demand for capable workers right now, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, demand for LPNs is expected to grow by 25% between now and 2022.
Of course, some people become LPNs to gain experience before pursuing a degree as a Registered Nurse, which requires a Bachelor’s degree (typically around four years of schooling). This is another reason finding an accredited LPN program is so important, as credits from an accredited program should have no problem transferring if you decide to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in nursing later on.
One great thing about being an LPN is that you can typically have a pretty flexible schedule. For example, if you decide to get your RN to BSN, you can work part-time as a Practical Nurse while you’re in school. This way, you can have the time you need to focus on your classes while also gaining valuable workplace experience that’ll give you the upper hand when you graduate and begin looking for RN openings.
Now that you have a better idea of how to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, does this sound like the right career path for you? If so, then it’s time to start looking into educational programs!