If you're interested in nursing, there are many specialties and multiple degrees and types of licenses to choose from. With so many options, what are the benefits of becoming a practical nurse?
Get In, Get Out
Perhaps the greatest benefit of becoming a practical nurse (LPN) is the fact that it's the shortest educational path to take to earn your license and work as a nurse. After prerequisites, the typical LPN program lasts two semesters of full-time study. You are then eligible to apply to take the LPN exam and get your license.
While there is a disparity in wages between an LPN and a registered nurse (RN), working as an LPN in the field can be an important stepping stone while you are in the process of earning a higher degree. According to 2010 data obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as a practical nurse, you may earn around $19 per hour nationally. Meanwhile, your RN counterparts may earn about $31 per hour.
Climbing the Ladder
Working as an LPN provides you with a hands-on learning lab for future studies. You may have a great advantage over fellow students who went straight into RN education programs without the benefits of working as a practical nurse. Don't be surprised if you find yourself remembering specific patients you've taken care of in the past when discussing lecture topics and completing your clinical rotations. That generally translates into a better performance and fewer stresses when going back to school to pursue your RN degree and license.
To Lead, or Not to Lead
Some LPNs choose not to get their RN license. A great deal of supervisory responsibilities come with being a registered nurse, so you earn that higher wage. Some nurses prefer the lower stress of remaining a "worker bee" instead of being in charge. Of course, you'll have less opportunities than a registered nurse if you choose to remain a practical nurse, and most jobs will be in long-term care settings. But hospital and home health jobs are also available for LPNs, working under the supervision of an RN in most cases.
The right career path for you depends on your personality, and how well you would handle being a supervisor, or whether you would prefer not to take on a supervisory role. Either way, in the role of LPN, you will earn a very livable wage, and it's a program well worth your consideration for a great career.
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