Learn how to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Research the education and career requirements, licensure, and experience required for starting a career as a licensed practical nurse.
Do I Want to Be a Licensed Practical Nurse?
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) works under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse and provides basic medical care in a healthcare setting. Duties of an LPN include monitoring patients’ health by checking blood pressure and vitals, applying dressings, assisting with bathing, collecting blood samples, and keeping records.
LPNs usually work full-time, although some part-time positions are available. Shifts may be longer than eight hours and be scheduled during the day, night, or weekends. The job can be physically demanding because LPNs often help to lift, move, and assist patients. Nursing work can be very stressful as well as rewarding. There is a risk of exposure to infectious diseases while working with patients.
Licensed Practical Nurse Job Requirements
In order to become an LPN, individuals need to complete an LPN certificate at a community or vocational school. Programs combine both academic coursework with clinical training. Individuals will also need to earn a license through the National Council Licensure Exam for practical nurses. The table below includes the requirements to become an LPN.
|Degree Name||Licensed practical nursing*|
|Licensing||Obtaining licensing is required to work in the field*|
|Experience||Experience in a clinical setting will be part of a training program*|
|Key Skills||In addition to being compassionate toward patients, LPNs also need to be patient, have strong communication skills and be very detail-oriented**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **Monster.com (August 2012)
Step 1: Enroll in an Licensed Practical Nurse Certificate Program
Students can complete an LPN certificate program in about a year. Before enrolling, students many need to complete a placement test. Once in an LPN program, students will be required to complete general science and nursing courses. General science courses include human biology, psychology, and gerontology. The nursing curriculum focuses on areas involving the fundamentals of nursing, nutrition of nursing, pharmacology, and clinical leadership.
Step 2: Participate in an Internship
A clinical internship will be a required part of an LPN program. This is an opportunity for students to begin applying what they’ve learned in the classroom into a practical environment and to begin working with patients. Students may have a chance to intern in various medical facilities, including hospitals and rehabilitation centers. An internship will help foster the student-to-nurse transition.
Step 3: Obtain Licensure
Graduating from an LPN program will qualify an individual for the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse, offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. All states require that LPNs pass this exam in order to work in a medical setting. Passing this exam ensures that an LPN have the knowledge and skills to work in the field and care for patients.
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