An individual who decides to become an LPN (licensed practical nurse) can have many excellent career opportunities available upon completion of the required training and passing the licensing exam. The first step towards becoming an LPN is deciding what type of program the candidate wishes to take: certificate, diploma or associate degree program. Below is everything you need to know regarding how to become an LPN as well as information about this field.
How to Become an LPN – Licensed Practical Nurse
An individual who aspires to become an LPN must successfully complete a state-approved accredited nursing program. A list of approved programs can usually be found on a state’s nursing board website. LPN programs are offered at technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges. Diploma and certificate programs usually take one year to complete, while associate degree programs take two years.
The LPN training program consists of three parts: lab courses, classroom studies and clinical education. The clinical education usually takes place the final semesters of the program and includes supervised rotations in a hospital. The student must complete a designated number of hours of clinical education. The number is different from state to state.
Completing the LPN training program is only the first part of becoming an LPN. Once the training is done, the candidate has to apply to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to take the licensing examination. All the states require LPNs be licensed, which can only happen by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).
To pass the multiple-choice exam, the nursing candidate must pass at least 85 questions out of 205 and has five hours in which to do so. Once the nurse has obtained licensure, he or she may also choose to obtain certification in specialty areas of nursing.
What Are an LPN’s Duties?
LPNs are often the backbone of a nursing department. They work alongside and under the supervision of RNs and doctors as they provide basic nursing care to patients. The type of work they perform once they become an LPN may depend on where they choose to work. The majority of LPNs work in nursing homes. The duties of an LPN typically include the following.
- Taking and recording patient vital signs
- Documenting patient medical histories
- Providing medical care, such as dressing wounds or inserting catheters
- Providing basic care like bathing or feeding
- Speaking with family members about aftercare for the patient
- Communicating with patient regarding health issues
Career Outlook for LPNs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that LPNs should see an employment growth of 12 percent during the 2016-2026 decade. The demand for qualified nurses continues to increase in an effort to keep up with the demand for more and improved healthcare. The bureau reported that LPNs earned wages ranging from $32,150 to more than $60,420 with the median yearly wage at $44,090 as of May 2017.
Nurse Journal reports that LPNs earn about $20.21 per hour. According to the BLS, there were about 702,400 LPNs working nationwide in 2016, and by 2020 the number should increase to 837,200.
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LPNs are a vital part of the medical field and continue to show their value every day, whether in a clinic, physician office or hospital. Many LPNs find the work so rewarding that they choose to further their education and become RNs. Individuals who chose to become an LPN are beginning a career that is not only high in demand but also deeply rewarding.