How To Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)?
To become a licensed practical (or vocational) nurse, you must attend LPN training school, successfully complete the program, and pass an exam called the NCLEX-PN. You then can get a license to practice in your state.
You almost always need a high school diploma or a GED (general equivalency diploma) to get into an LPN training school. There are characteristics that are helpful if this is going to be your career. Since you will be dealing directly with sick people, you need to be caring and sympathetic. You need to be able to work as part of the healthcare team, which includes registered nurses, physicians, and other personnel. LPNs are expected to observe and record the condition of their patients. This is critical, so you must be observant and able to note and record details. You must be able to make decisions on your own, when necessary, or do what your supervisor tells you to do.
Licensed schools will be able to make available assistance from the U.S. Department of Education, which can include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Student Loans, and Federal Family Education Loans.
In addition, you need to be physically fit and strong, because you will be helping patients in and out of bed and doing other physically demanding tasks. You also need to be emotionally strong and stable, because you may be dealing with patients who are very sick. If you wind up working in a residential care (nursing) home, you will be taking care of patients that are going to die, that may be confused and lonely, and can be very difficult to deal with.
If you think you possess these skills and you have your high school diploma or GED, you need to find an LPN training school. LPN training is also offered at community and junior colleges. The average LPN training takes a year, although there are programs that finish in as little as seven months, and as long as two years.
As you look for a program, make sure they are licensed. There are a number of licensing bodies. One is the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Another is the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and a third is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
If time is a factor, and it usually is, try and find a one-year program. That is long enough to train you properly and get you into the workforce. See if the school offers special classes to prepare you for the NCLX-PN. If there is any area that especially interests you, see if the program has classes covering that subject.
Your choice of schools will probably be based on what is available near where you live, unless you want to relocate. The cost will most likely be a big factor in your choice. Check to see if financial aid is available. In addition to whatever is offered by the school, there is financial aid available from other sources. Licensed schools will be able to make available assistance from the U.S. Department of Education, which can include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Student Loans, and Federal Family Education Loans.
There are many LPN training programs with classes during the day. But there are also programs with classes during evenings and weekends, so that you can work or fulfill other daytime obligations while you train for your LPN.
There is such a variety of LPN training programs that you should be able to find one that will work for you. From there, you may be working as a nurse just over a year later.