In order to become a licensed practical nurse, applicants must attend an accredited program from a technical school or a community college that generally lasts for about twelve to eighteen months. These programs are also offered at universities, and sometimes even at high schools and hospitals. After obtaining this certificate in practical nursing, applicants must pass an exam known as the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN. This will make them eligible to work as LPNs in all states. In addition to these educational requirements, LPNs need to be compassionate, patient and detail oriented people. They must possess good stamina and strong communication skills.
Practical nursing programs offer introductory level courses in the following fields:
Anatomy, Physiology and Human disease;
Maternal and child nursing;
Geriatrics and Mental Health;
They also include supervised clinical experience in a variety of settings. Prospective applicants now have the convenience to choose between two program options: online or on-campus. LPN programs online are preferred by those who can't quit their full time jobs or have other obligations to attend. Online LPN programs offer students the convenience to proceed at their own pace and study on their own schedule. In order to learn the skills needed to operate as an LPN, students enrolled in the online system can complete a small component of their program at an on-ground campus or facility. There they can learn to practice skills on modern technical equipment and simulation mannequins. Generally, these programs are affordable. Prospective LPNs have several financing options to explore. These include federal loans, private educational loans, and loans from financial institutions.
Licensed practical nurses work in a variety of work environments including nursing care facilities, offices of physicians, general medical and surgical hospitals, home health care centers, rehabilitation facilities and assisted living facilities for the elderly. LPNs are responsible for monitoring and recording patients' health, administering basic nursing care, performing patient care measures discussing health care with patients and listening to their concerns, and reporting patients' status to registered nurses and doctors. Mostly state laws regulate medical care which means that the scope of tasks that the LPN s can perform will depend on where they work. Generally LPNs are required to work during weekends, nights and holidays as well because of the nature of medical care. Their work shifts can last more than eight hours.
Job outlook for LPNs is quite bright. Because of an aging population and a current shortage of health care professionals, their employment is expected to grow by 22% from 2010 to 2020. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of licensed practical nurses amounted to around $40,000 in May 2010. After attaining experience, LPNs can advance to supervisory positions. Some also opt to go on to become RNs by passing additional examinations.