If you want to be a nurse and begin working quickly, consider becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPN jobs are expected to grow by 21 percent between 2008 and 2018—faster than the average for other occupations—because of the growing healthcare needs of the aging U.S. population.
Find LPN Programs in Your State:
How to Get Started
Your first step is to receive a diploma from an LPN training program. This will take about one year, and you can find these programs at vocational/technical schools or community or junior colleges. You will need a high school degree or GED to be considered for admission. The curriculum is focused on learning nursing concepts and applying them to a healthcare setting. Depending upon the program and state licensing requirements, courses may include anatomy and physiology, nutrition, basic calculation, safety, emergency care, and nursing courses in medical, surgical, psychiatric, and pediatric, and geriatric specialties.
Many LPN programs have flexible schedules and are a combination of classroom, clinical setting, and online learning.
Getting Your License
Your training program prepares you for your LPN licensing exam. Your state board of nursing can provide more information about how to take this exam.
More resources about licensing exams can be found at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing www.ncsbn.org.
What the Job Is Like
LPNs provide basic patient care under the supervision of doctors and nurses. You can work in hospitals, nursing care facilities such as nursing homes, medical offices, or work one-on-one with patients in their homes. In some states, LPNs can do complex tasks such as administer prescription medications, start and maintain intravenous lines, and care for ventilator-dependent patients.
To succeed in your career, you should be in good health and have a strong desire to help people. You need good problem-solving and communication skills, and must be able to work well in a team environment.
Advancing Your Career
If you find that you like working in healthcare and want to do something different, consider an administrative role. In most states, LPNs can be supervisors in long-term and assisted care nursing facilities. A popular choice for many LPNs is to become an RN by pursuing an LPN to RN program. You need to have more education and take a different licensing exam to be an RN. You can choose from RN programs at community colleges, hospitals, or universities.
Did you know?
There’s no difference between licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses (LVN). The licensing state decides which terminology to use. Most states use LPN but Texas and California use LVN.