Practical Nursing (LPN) Diploma

Licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, work under the direction of registered nurses and physicians and may help with basic nursing duties such as replacing bandages and inserting catheters, keeping track of patient health, and discussing care with professionals more involved in treatment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). An LPN diploma program available through a community college or technical school may help students gain the skills and abilities to be able to pursue work as an LPN.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/ooh, 2012) notes that job opportunities for LPNs are expected to increase 22 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020. This translates into potential creation of 168,500 new jobs during this time. As well, a large number of LPNs are expected to retire, helping to create new opportunities, according to the BLS. Finally, the aging U.S. population is also anticipated to contribute to the rising need for health care services. The mean annual nationwide wage for LPNs was $42,040 as of May 2011, according to the BLS.

Considering a Diploma in Practical Nursing

Completing an LPN diploma, or a similar LPN certificate program, could help prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses, or NCLEX-PN. Passage of this test is needed to qualify for a license, which is required to work as an LPN (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).

Classes in a diploma program might focus on child health nursing, health science, nursing skills, pharmacology and more (vistacollege.edu). Other basic coursework could focus on biology, nutrition, and anatomy and physiology (davenport.edu). Students in one of the LPN diploma programs might also learn how to work with other medical professionals, safely administer medicine and monitor patients' vital signs. An LPN diploma may offer both hands-on training and classroom learning.

Students could look for LPN diploma programs at community colleges and vocational schools. They also might find them through high schools or at hospitals, according to the BLS. Length of time needed to complete a program can vary, but the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (nflpn.org) notes a LPN diploma program may take as little as seven months or up to two years or more to complete.

Admission requirements for Practical Nursing Diploma

Typically, students need to have a high school diploma or GED to be able to apply for an LPN diploma program. These requirements can vary from one program to another, but letters of recommendation, a copy of a resume, and ACT scores could be part of the application process (oakland.edu). Other LPN diploma programs might require a specific high school GPA, achievement on the NLN Pre-Admission Examination, or a certifying letter from a doctor or similar source attesting to student health. The NLN Pre-Admission Exam, or PAX, is a standardized test used to gauge basic math, science and verbal skills as well as health and first aid knowledge (nln.org). An admissions counselor to one of the LPN diploma programs could provide more details on specific admission requirements.

Possible careers for LPN diploma graduates

LPNs could look for career opportunities in a variety of settings. These include employment in a doctor's office, extended care facility, nursing home, hospital or even private homes, according to the BLS. Students might choose to begin employment while also pursuing more advanced academic training. For example, they might look for a bachelor's degree program that could help prepare them to test for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX-RN. These programs might be called LPN to RN bridge programs or LPN to BSN bridge programs.

Industries offering high levels of employment for LPNs include nursing care facilities, home health care services and community care facilities for the aging, according to the BLS (bls.gov/oes, 2011). A few of the top paying industries for LPNs include grantmaking and giving services, junior colleges, and employment services, the BLS notes.

Specializations

LPNs interested in advancement might look to additional opportunities for on-the-job training or specific certification. The National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc., (napnes.org) offers certification in IV therapy, long-term care and pharmacology. These certificates or others could be advantageous when it comes to exploring new opportunities or simply in working with specific health care populations, such as the elderly.

Potential steps after an LPN diploma program

An LPN diploma program can be a way for students to begin exploring the fundamentals of nursing and on deciding what steps, if any, might be next. A program can introduce the student to a variety of nursing fields, help them to network and meet health care professionals and role models, and even experience what it can be like to work in health care and with patients. An LPN diploma, however, may be just the first step of a nursing career for some. These students may want to advance their education and see what opportunities could be available to them with more training, more skills and more knowledge.

Sources

"Certifications," National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc.
"Education," National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses
"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics
"Practical Nursing," South Florida State College
"Practical Nursing, Diploma," Davenport University
"Practical Nursing Program (LPN Certification)," Oakland University
"Testing Services," National League for Nursing
"Vocational/Practical Nurse Diploma," Vista College

Schools offering LPN Programs

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