July 28, 2023

How to Become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

An LPN checking an IV bag of a patient.

Are you passionate about making a positive impact in people's lives through a fulfilling career in the medical field? If so, becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) might be the perfect path for you. In this guide, we'll explore becoming an LPN, including education, career opportunities, and more. So, let's begin this exciting journey towards a rewarding and compassionate profession in healthcare!

Table of contents:

Understanding the role: What is an LPN?

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) in some states, are integral members of the healthcare team. As an LPN/LVN, you'll provide direct patient care and support under Registered Nurses (RN) and physician supervision. Your duties include providing medications, monitoring vital signs, dressing wounds, assisting with daily activities, and more.

LPN job outlook: A promising career path

The job outlook for LPNs and LVNs is promising, with a growing demand for compassionate and skilled healthcare professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% growth in LPN employment from 2020 to 2030, exceeding the average for all occupations. This positive outlook is due to rising healthcare needs with an aging population and medical technology advancements.

What education is needed to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)?

Becoming an LPN involves a structured and rewarding journey. Follow these steps to pursue your dream of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse:

  • Meet the Education Requirements: The first step towards becoming an LPN is to meet the educational prerequisites. You will need a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate to be eligible for LPN programs.
  • Enroll in an Accredited LPN Program: Once you meet the educational requirements, it's time to enroll in an accredited LPN program. These nursing programs are available at community colleges, vocational schools, and some hospitals, lasting anywhere from 12 months to 18 months. They offer a comprehensive curriculum with a blend of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical training.
  • Classroom and Clinical Training Programs: During your LPN program, you'll receive classroom instruction on essential subjects like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nursing fundamentals, and patient care techniques. The hands-on clinical experience also helps you gain practical experience and develop crucial nursing skills with guidance from experienced nurses.
  • Meet Licensing Requirements: After completing the program, you'll prepare for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN Exam). This standardized exam assesses your nursing knowledge and clinical skills to ensure you're competent in providing safe and effective patient care.
  • Obtain Your LPN Licensure: With diligent preparation and successful completion of the NCLEX-PN, you'll receive your LPN license. Congratulations! You are now officially a Licensed Practical Nurse, ready to begin your fulfilling career in healthcare.
  • Start Working: Apply for entry-level positions in different healthcare settings in your area. Once you've completed one year as an LPN, you have the opportunity to collaborate with platforms such as CareRev, enabling you to pick up available shifts at nearby healthcare facilities and gain control over your schedule.

How long does it take to become an LPN?

On average, it takes around 2 years full time to achieve this goal. However, if you haven't completed high school or received your GED, the process may take 4 years. The preparation time for the exam varies depending on individual study habits and readiness. After passing the NCLEX-PN, you can obtain your LPN license, marking the completion of your journey.

With dedication and commitment, aspiring LPNs can realize their dream of becoming compassionate and skilled healthcare professionals in approximately 2 years.

LPN job opportunities: Where can you work?

LPNs have a diverse range of job opportunities available across the United States and in various healthcare settings. Some of the facilities and opportunities where LPNs can work include:

  • Hospitals: Contribute to patient care in various hospital departments, including medical-surgical units, maternity wards, and ICUs.
  • Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities: Care for elderly residents and patients in need of extended medical support.
  • Clinics and Medical Offices: Work in outpatient settings, assisting with medical examinations, recording vital signs, and providing patient care.
  • Home Health Care Agencies: Deliver personalized care to patients in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Schools and Educational Settings: Support student health in schools, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for children and adolescents
  • Correctional Facilities: Provide healthcare services to imprisoned individuals in correctional facilities, addressing their medical needs and ensuring their well-being.

LPN advancement opportunities

While LPNs play a crucial role in healthcare, some professionals may choose to advance their careers further. LPNs can advance from LPN to RN (Registered Nurse) through additional education and training or specialize in other specific healthcare areas. Areas of focus may include pediatric care, gerontology, psychiatric nursing, and more. With experience and ongoing learning, LPNs can assume leadership roles like charge nurse positions, providing greater responsibilities and growth opportunities. Professionals can find LPN jobs online and through their local healthcare systems.

The fulfilling role of an LPN

As an LPN, you'll discover that your role goes beyond providing medical care. Your compassion, empathy, and ability to connect with patients and their families will create a comforting and healing environment. Your dedication to patient well-being will make the journey to becoming an LPN incredibly rewarding. Embark on an exciting and rewarding journey as an LPN, where you can make a meaningful impact on others' lives.

Ready to explore career flexibility as an LPN?

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