LPN Career, Schools and Training Overview
If you're interested in working in health care but can't or prefer not to make the significant educational investment often required for other medical careers, training to become an LPN could be a good choice. These nurses are employed in a wide variety of settings, including nursing care facilities, hospitals, doctors' offices and home health care services.
LPN is short for licensed practical nurse. This role is referred to as an LVN, or licensed vocational nurse, in Texas and California, but apart from the name, there is no tangible difference between the two. Supervised by a registered nurse or doctor, LPNs work closely with patients and are responsible for basic medical care. This can involve tasks such as the following:
- Administering medication and injections
- Changing patient bandages
- Helping patients dress, bathe and eat
- Keeping medical records
- Monitoring patient vitals
- Reporting a patient's health status to doctors and registered nurses
LPNs might also be called on to provide emotional support to patients -- another reason why nurses are nicknamed "angels in comfortable shoes."
LPN Training Options
Depending on the degree or certificate program you choose to pursue and class scheduling, becoming licensed as an LPN can take as little as one year, after which you need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for practical nursing. You can often find LPN training programs at technical schools or community colleges, although some might be located at high schools or hospitals. Training generally involves a combination of traditional class work, such as biology and pharmacology, along with supervised clinical instruction.
Online LPN Training Programs
Unlike many educational opportunities today, LPN training is not yet available online. Due to to the hands-on, personal nature of training within the nursing program, LPN training requires you to physically interact with patients on a regular basis -- something online training couldn't easily accommodate. Also, training could include clinical experience in acute and long-term care.
Good Qualities to have as an LPN
While anyone can train to become an LPN, you may be a particularly good candidate if you possess some or all of these qualities:
- High physical strength and stamina
- Good judgment
- People skills
- Attention to detail
Advancing your Nursing Career
One benefit of becoming an LPN is that it offers the possibility of moving up in the nursing field. According to the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, with enough experience and training, you might move into a supervisory role or join a specialized nursing group such as infusion nurses, treatment nurses, critical care nurses or special procedure nurses.
If you decide you'd eventually like to train to become a registered nurse, there are many LPN to RN education programs available, making LPN training a stepping stone to more advanced nursing careers. Some LPN to RN bridge programs feature online study options.
More information on being an LPN
If you have additional questions or would like more details on what it's like to be an LPN, salary data and more, check out the other articles on this website.