LPN Schools and Degree Programs
Are you wondering “what is an LPN?” and whether or not you should become one? LPN/LVN programs are typically one-year diploma or certificate programs (occasionally Associate Degree programs) which help you to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). They’re the same thing, but some states call it one, and some states call it the other. If you are already an LPN/LVN, then you’re probably looking for our directory of LPN to RN programs.
The easiest way to find information on LPN/LVN programs is to use the links in the featured school box below to check out programs in the state where you live. You can also use the quick search box to find additional programs near you. Some programs are actually structured as the first year of a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing program. In other words, after the first year of the program you become an LPN/LVN, and you can either stop there, and go get a job, or continue with the second year of the program and earn your Registered Nurse (RN) license.
You should also check out the website of that state’s Board of Nursing, which will give you important information on nursing in that state (licensure requirements, etc.).
Should I Become an LPN/LVN, or a Registered Nurse?
While there tends to be more mobility and opportunities for RNs, you can become an LPN/LVN in as little as one year, and then go for your RN after you’ve gotten into the workforce. There are hundreds of LPN to RN programs in the US, that help LPNs/LVNs earn either their Associate or Bachelors degree in Nursing, and take the licensing exam to become RNs.
LPN Program Curriculum
Depending on the program you choose, your LPN education could take between one to two years. You can expect to take introductory courses in nursing processes and fundamentals of nursing.
Your other core areas of study include:
- Patient assessment
- Mental health
- Health and nutrition
- Legal and ethical principles
In addition, you can choose to take courses in other specialty areas such as:
- Surgical nursing
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Basic psychology
Expert Advice: What’s the Difference Between an LPN and an RN?
Let’s start with a little background information. There are several levels within the nursing profession and it’s not always easy for non-nurses to tell them apart. A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) represents one level. LPNs may wear the same type of uniform and appear to do the same work as registered nurses (RNs), but they have a more limited scope-of-practice than RNs do. RNs can work independently in many different clinical settings, but LPNs are required to work with supervision either by an RN or a physician. State nursing practice laws spell out exactly what type of work is allowed for each level of nursing.
Where are the Best LPN Jobs?
LPNs may work in operating rooms, assisting with surgeries, in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Another common work setting is a doctor’s office, where LPNs get patients ready for examinations, assist physicians with procedures, and administer medications and shots.
Insurance companies also hire LPNs to review records and catastrophic insurance claims. Additional LPN jobs are available in the home healthcare market, where LPNs may provide private-duty nursing care for patients who cannot easily leave home. One example would be caring for a person with long-term skilled healthcare needs, such as intravenous infusions, a ventilator, or other complex biomedical machinery necessary to stay alive. For example, LPNs can provide round-the-clock nursing care when a patient is stable enough to be at home but still sick enough to need regular skilled nursing care. RNs function in supervisory/advisory roles when LPNs are providing direct patient care. Are you starting to see the difference?
Training & Money Matters
Training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse usually takes place at a technical school and is significantly shorter than any type of RN training program, so the cost is less. However, LPNs also earn less than RNs on average and may not have as much flexibility in terms of upward job mobility. LPNs/LVNs can also expect a mean average salary of more than $42,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Starting your nursing career as an LPN may be a good option if you want to explore a career in nursing through a technical school route rather than college. Getting accepted into an LPN program is often easier than getting into a RN program, too. But whichever way you go you’ll learn a great deal about yourself, and about the fascinating field of nursing. This learning and self-discovery process is vital for growth – at every level in the nursing profession.
Deciding if You Should Become an LPN
Licensed practical nurse training can prepare you for a job that will provide an entry into the medical field with a good wage. If you decide that you like working in the field of nursing as an LPN then your LPN work experience will serve you well if you decide to pursue further education down the road. For additional resources, check out our information hub!