Practical Nursing Programs: What to Expect

NursingNovember 12, 2013


A licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse offers direct patient care under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. Practical nursing programs are an effective way to start working with patients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for LPNs will increase 22 percent between 2010 and 2020. What expectations should you have of a practical nursing program?

  • Most programs require you to have a high school diploma or GED. Also, LPN programs can vary greatly from state to state, so it is important that you carefully examine the programs in which you are interested. Confirm that they are accredited programs. If possible, confirm the passing rate for the NCLEX-PN, a licensing exam that is taken before you can start working.
  • LPN programs include many of the same elements as a degree for a registered nurse. You can expect to take anatomy and physiology, basic pharmacology (medications), and possibly some chemistry or biology courses. Practical nursing programs also feature training in maternity care, pediatrics and adult health. In addition to classroom learning, you will also gain knowledge through clinical experiences in which you work directly with patients in a hospital or long-term care facility.
  • The length of LPN programs can also have an effect on the intensity of the curriculum. These programs can vary from 12 months to three years in length. You are still responsible for learning the same information, so an accelerated program can be hectic as you are constantly learning new material as well as simultaneously completing clinical experiences. It's a good idea to keep your personal responsibilities in mind as you find out which program is right for you.
  • Every LPN program should prepare you to pass the NCLEX-PN, a test that is necessary for you to begin an LPN career. The NCLEX is a computer adaptive test, meaning the level of difficulty changes based on your correct or incorrect answers, which makes for a challenging feat. However, a good program will prepare you and provide you with the resources to successfully complete this exam.
  • After you complete your program and pass the NCLEX-PN, you can expect to work in a variety of facilities, including long-term care facilities and hospitals. If you are looking to further your education, LPN-RN bridge programs are available that will assist you to become a registered nurse.

Practical nursing is a fulfilling career that will allow you to care for patients and achieve your dream of becoming a nurse. It can be a challenging process, but if your passion is health care, it can be a rewarding one.

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