If you want to get into the healthcare industry, becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) could be right for you. LPNs and LVNs are different than a Registered Nurse (RN) in that you won’t have to do as much schooling but still stand to make a good salary with good benefits depending on where you work. Through an accredited program, you can be on your way to making a difference in other people’s lives.
What does an LPN and LVN do?
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses are essentially the same thing depending on the terminology used by the state, college, or company. For simplicity sake, we will use LPN.
LPN job responsibilities will vary depending on which state you are in and company you work for, but you will be part of a team of other healthcare professionals, including registered nurses, doctors, and more. For the most part, LPNs will record vital signs, administer injections, dress wounds, and help patients with basic tasks while in the hospital, like bathing, dressing, or walking. LPNs play a crucial role in every healthcare setting as they ensure that patients are comfortable and update doctors and nurses about patients so they can recover from their ailments as best as possible.
How to become an LPN
In order to become an LPN, you will have to undergo an LPN/LVN program that only typically takes around 1 year to complete. These programs will prepare you to take the National Council of State Boards of Nursing-Practical Nursing exam (NCLEX-PN). This exam costs $200 to take after your schooling is completed, and is administered by the State Boards of Nursing. Be sure to study, take practice tests, and research the NCLEX-PN before taking it as it is comprehensive and can be difficult.
Colleges for becoming an LPN
Each state will have different requirements for becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, especially if you end up taking classes in a different state where you are applying for licensure. There are a large number of states that will allow you to obtain a multistate license so that you don’t have to retake it upon moving. You will also have to renew your license every two to three years in order to stay up to date on the standards for practice.
Many private and public colleges, universities, and community colleges offer programs to prepare you to become an LPN. Typically, the program will last one full year. Some colleges will offer both online and in-person classes as well. Make sure that the program you are attending is accredited by a legitimate and qualified organizations. After you complete your schooling, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-PN).
What you will study
The courses you will take to become an LPN will be a lot like the classes students take to become a registered nurse, but more specialized and less general academic courses that one would have to take for any bachelor’s degree. LPNs can expect to take a number of classes in the medical training, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, emergency care, nutrition, therapeutic nursing care, pediatrics, physical and mental impact of diseases, and ethical considerations in the medical field.
Job outlook and salary expectations
Being a Licensed Practical Nurse qualifies you to work in a number of different healthcare environments, including long-term care, hospitals, private practice offices, schools, and home healthcare agencies. Because of the high-need for LPNs, the job outlook is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 16% increase from 2014-2024, with an median salary of $21.20 an hour, or $44,090 a year.
Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse is a great way to work in the medical field while not having to take a lot of schooling and still be well compensated.