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Right above CNAs are the licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Unlike nurse’s aides who are allowed to carry out administrative tasks including basic patient informal assessments, LPNs are specially trained nurses who many would agree have almost identical responsibilities to that of a registered nurse (RN).
The training however is much easier and quicker to complete than an RN. The basic standard for licensed practical nurse is that they must have obtained training and career certificate in basic nursing. The program should take around 12 months to complete, and it must be accredited by authorities, in order for the certificate holder to qualify for the licensure examination.
It should be noted that being an LPN is a very lucrative profession, with projected job growth of about 24% between 2014 and 2024. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the median salary of licensed practical nurses as at the year 2015 is $43,170.
What is an LPN?
As a licensed practical nurse, you will be trained to provide the most basic treatment and care to patients in diverse health care settings. This means you will be expected to maintain and monitor the health of patients assigned to you, and also perform other duties such as wound care, give shots, assistance in personal hygiene, draw blood, give medicine and update the chart records of your patients.
In addition these health professionals assist the RN supervise and manage the certified nursing assistants.
In order to become an LPN, you must have completed a diploma course that lasts for about 1 year and this program must include clinical rotations. The completion of this National exam is the most important standard for obtaining a license.
LPN Job Description
There is incredible similarity in duties performed between an RN and an LPN. Without a doubt, RN’s have more training under their belt and are more skilled but LPNs are equal in providing similar effort and ultimate care for patients in need. Reporting to an RN about changes in a patient condition, perform CPRs, keep records and medical histories performing patient assessments, taking blood samples and vital signs, as well as assisting with a patient’s overall personal hygiene and daily needs.
LPN Education Requirements
The required basic education to become an LPN is; Diploma in Practical Nursing. In some areas, certificate courses may be available, however, you will still require the diploma certification in most states of the country. On the completion of the diploma certificate, you will be required to pass the NCLEX-PN, which is an acronym for National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.
LPN Program Pre-requisites
The main prerequisites to enroll for LPN diploma course is; a high school diploma of a minimum GPA of 2.0 or a GED certificate. You must have passed English Grammar course, Reading, Mathematics and Science. You may also be asked to provide a proof of citizenship, and if English is not your primary or first language, you will be expected to provide an official test results of Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL). You may take the TOEFL test on computer or paper, and it must not be later than 2 years until the period of registering for the LPN course.
Curriculum for the LPN Program
The LPN training program is available in several technical schools as well as hospitals and community colleges. The curricula for this program will normally include lots of practical experience, especially in clinical settings. You are also expected to take courses in the following subjects;
- Medical/Surgical Nursing
- Medical terminologies
- Infection control
- Lifespan health care
- Introduction to Psychology
- Maternity Nursing
- Introduction to Medications
- Introduction to Sociology
- Pediatric Nursing
- Management in Geriatrics
Though, getting a degree after your diploma is not compulsory, however, your career can speed up when you enroll for a degree program in Practical nursing (LPN), after your diploma and licensure. Most students often prefer to go straight into nursing practices, immediately after their licensure.
Licensure Requirements for Licensed Practical Nurses
At the end of the 12 month training for Licensed Practical Nurse, an aspiring LPN is mandated to register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). The NCLEX-PN licensure examination is administered by the National Council of State Boards for Nursing. This is an adaptive examination that tests every components of the thought courses during the diploma program.
The examination will require that you make a payment of $200 at the point of registration, or you can register online via the National Council of State Boards for Nursing – www.ncsbn.org. The National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), comprises of practical and written examination parts. On passing this exam, you will receive the LPN Licensure and you will be eligible to practice the nursing profession in any hospital, and in any state of the country.
Where do LPN’s work?
As a licensed practical nurse, you can apply your skills in patient care, in broad range of health care fields. Licensed practical nurses are employed in government hospitals, clinics, as well as private doctor offices, hospice facilities, nursing homes and health care organizations. Most licensed practical nurses work on average of 40 hours a week, including shifts (those who work on night and weekend shifts are entitled to more benefits than those who work on regular day shifts).
Some licensed practical nurses work part time, when they further their education and training. While most nurses prefer to work on one facility, others divide their work hours between multiple locations. There are licensed practical nurses who travel country-wide, working for different hospitals and health care facilities for few month at a time- these nurses are usually hired on contractual basis.
LPN to RN
As a Licensed Practical Nurse you would be eligible for advanced placement the higher degree program required to become an RN which is the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program. It takes around 12 months to complete an LPN program whereas Registered Nursing Programs take between 18-36 months to complete.
The exact amount of time it takes is dependent on the choice of degree whether it is a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing), or a diploma from an accredited nursing program.
The BSN is the preferred choice of RN program by employers and takes 4 years to complete. Nevertheless many candidates who choose the shorter timeframe and completes the ADN or diploma which takes 2-3 years will also be able to secure employment upon graduation.
CNA to LPN Bridge Program
The unfortunate truth is that most of the CNA programs carry no credit towards the Practical Nursing program. What this means, is that certified nursing assistants are on the same starting level as someone with no nursing experience. Although LPN programs don’t require CNA experience as a pre-requisite they do consider it valuable and often ask.
What some aspiring nursing students also choose to do is to work as a CNA to gain experience while waiting to get into a BSN program and make a direct route to RN.
Many individuals benefit from being a CNA first plus the money comes in handy for the tuition and your daily expenses. But since an LPN takes significantly less time to complete than RN many choose the ADN route first. Your goal is to ensure you choose a school with a good reputation and NCLEX pass rate.
LPN Professional Organizations & Resources
- The National Federation of Licensed Professional Nurses (NFLPN)
- American Nurses Association, Inc. (ANA)
- National League for Nursing
- National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Services
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