LPN DegreeLicensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are nursing professionals who usually work under the supervision of a registered nurse or a physician. Their duties involve assisting nurse practitioners, registered nurses, doctors, and other healthcare staff in the treatment of sick or injured patients. In some states, licensed practical nurses are called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs).
RequirementsAspiring LPNs must complete an accredited LPN program, offered at many community colleges, 4-year colleges, vocational schools, and nursing schools. After completing this program, LPNs must pass the LPN licensure examination before becoming licensed to work in the industry. LPN programs usually take 1 to 2 years to complete, and include both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience involving direct patient care.
LPN program applicants must hold a high school diploma (or equivalent). In some cases, applicants may also be required to have a minimum high school GPA and pass an entrance exam.
LPN Program DurationTypically, LPN programs take between 9 and 18 months to complete. However, this figure will vary depending on the program, the school, and on whether you're a full-time or a part-time student. Unlike other nursing degree programs, there are no accelerated LPN programs available. Aspiring LPNs must simply take the course at a school or college of their choosing.
Working adults, who can't attend classes during the day, can pursue an LPN degree via night and weekend classes. These programs often take longer to complete, but provide additional scheduling flexibility for students with work or family responsibilities.
CostThe cost of LPN programs can vary widely, depending on the school, the program, and the state. LPN programs can cost as little as $7,000 (in smaller states) and as much as $20,000 (in bigger states). When comparing LPN schools, be sure to ask whether or not the cost of the program includes such expenses as supplies, lab costs, and ancillary fees, which can add up over the course of a program.
Typically, community colleges and vocational schools offer LPN programs at a much lower cost than private colleges and schools. Additionally, state residents are often offered discounted tuition.
Online LPN ProgramsMany LPN programs are available completely online, which can save you a good deal of time and money. These programs require a stable internet connection and a computer. Online programs offer a high degree of independence and flexibility, but they also demand a high degree of self-motivation and discipline. They are particularly appealing to working professionals, since they allow students to study at their own pace, at whatever time is convenient for them, and from any location with an internet connection.
Before committing to any online LPN program, make sure that it's accredited by the state nursing board. Unaccredited programs may not be accepted by certain licensing boards, employers, or educational institutions. In order to maximize your degree's value, make sure it's from an accredited program.
While there are plenty of advantages to online LPN programs, there are a number of disadvantages as well. It can be more difficult to acquire clinical, applicable experience from an online program. Before committing to any program, make sure that you'll be able to work in clinical rotations and acquire hands-on training. This training is essential for the licensing exam, and for your success in the workplace. Also, make sure your online program will provide you with plenty of opportunities to communicate with your professor and your classmates. LPN curriculum can be confusing at times, and with online programs it's especially important to be able to ask questions and clarify anything you don't understand.