The job of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) involves performing the basic functions of a nurse under the guidance of a registered nurse or doctor. A rewarding career, it is one of those medical fields that is not extremely demanding. If you wish to make a career of this field, here’s a look into the steps involved.
If you are someone who would like to pursue a medical career without spending too much time educating yourself, or a medical job that is less demanding than others, then that of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is perfect for you. Working under registered nurses and doctors, an LPN has several jobs to perform. These primarily include checking normal vital signs, and assisting patients in performing various activities they cannot do themselves. Other aspects include taking samples for testing, delivering medication, and in some cases, even administering it based on the registered nurse or doctor’s instructions.
If you wish to get into this field, it is important that you make this decision as early as high school. This is so that you can take the appropriate subjects and be prepared to meet the requirements of the nursing program. You will then not have to spend time meeting the requirements later on and delay your entire education process.
Step 1: Complete High School
A high school diploma or a GED is the first step that you need to complete. When in high school, take up subjects such as biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. These will help you further in your course.
Step 2: Find out the Program Requirements
The requirements that make you eligible for an LPN program may vary based on the school you choose. For instance, some may insist on a high school diploma, while for others, a GED may suffice. Moreover, some schools may also require you to provide an ACT or a COMPASS score, along with your other educational qualifications.
Step 3: Enroll for an Accredited Program
Programs offered for LPNs usually last anywhere between seven months to one year. When you choose a school, make sure it is accredited by the board of nursing in your state. This is very important so that you can qualify for licensure in this field. In school, you will be taught the fundamentals of nursing, pediatric nursing, anatomy, nutrition, physiology, ethical issues in nursing, and psychology. Some schools also provide courses in pharmacology. Along with theoretical education, students are exposed to a practical environment, where they receive training in the field. Pursuing courses offered by the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, such as those in intravenous therapy or basic life support, will further boost your employment prospects.
Step 4: Attain Licensure
The licensing requirements for vary from state to state. This is why, attending a program from a recognized school is imperative. Once you have completed the program, you will be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Once you pass this exam, you will become a licensed practical nurse, who is ready to practice in different settings, such as hospitals, doctors’ clinics, and rehabilitation centers. You will have to pursue continuing education in the field to maintain your license.
Overall, it may take a maximum of two years to become a licensed practical nurse. The outlook for jobs in this field is extremely positive, with salaries starting at around $35,000. There are a lot of students who work as LPNs for a few years, and then pursue higher courses such as a bachelor of science in nursing. This takes them towards the path of becoming registered nurses. Additional qualifications always lead to a boost in the types of jobs and associated salaries too. In any case, even if you continue working as an LPN, your salary will definitely increase as you gain experience in the field.