The History of Practical Nursing


The history of licensed practical nursing in the United States, like much of nursing, dates back to the late 1800's. In 1892, the Young Women's Christian Association in New York City gave the first training for practical nurses. Later, Ballard School, also in New York, was the first official school for training. At the time, practical nurses were taught to care for the sick and also were taught homemaking skills. After 1900, the education and licensing of LPNs became more formalized, with standardization developed in 1917 by the National League for Nursing, which was then called the National League of Nursing Education.

There was a shortage of practical nurses during World War I. The Army School of Nursing was formed to help train more practical nurses. The Smith Hughes Act provided money for more practical nursing schools.

The National Association for Practical Nursing Education and Service (NAPNES) was formed in 1941, and it accredited training programs from 1945 to 1984.

Between the two World Wars, many of the nurses did not continue working. Those who did during the 1920's and 1930's worked as visiting nurses or with public health agencies.

During World War II, there was again a severe nursing shortage in the United States. Practical/vocational nurses were in more demand. LPNs were being taught basic medical knowledge, but their training was focused more on the delivery of hands-on nursing care. LPNs working under the supervision of RNs made it possible for the RNs to take care of more patients.

Not only did LPNs work in clinics, health departments, industries and hospitals, but they also went on wartime “hardship tours” in Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific.

The National Association for Practical Nursing Education and Service (NAPNES) was formed in 1941, and it accredited training programs from 1945 to 1984. There were a number of different groups that evaluated the tasks and education of practical nurses, including the National Federation for Licensed Practical Nurses.

The Board of Vocational Nurse Examiners (BVNE) was created in 1951. The first licensures from this board were granted by waiver, based on experience and physician affidavits. In 1952, the first national examinations began, and no more licenses were granted by waiver. By 1952, most programs training practical nurses were in hospitals. Licensing was done on the state level. However, not every state passed licensing laws immediately. By 1955, all the states did have their own regulations for LPNs.

The BVNE created standards for training in 1961. In the 1970's and 1980's, there was continued divergence of the two nursing pathways, LPN and RN. Examinations were standardized. To obtain a license, LPNs would have to pass the NCLEX-PN in addition to completing training.It has been suggested that only RNs should work in hospitals, but this has never actually been legislated. There are also suggestions that all nurses should have increased training. 

Schools offering LPN Programs

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3 Program(s) Found
  • Part of the Lincoln Group of Schools.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), Accrediting Commission of Career Schools (ACCSC), and Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • First campus was opened in 1946, now with 22 campuses across the United States.
  • Lincoln Group of Schools made over $12 million available through scholarships to qualified students in 2014.
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Mildred Elley , Pittsfield
  • A part of the Empire Education Corporation.
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  • 3 campuses located in Albany and New York City Metro, New York, Pittsfield in Massachusetts, with online options as well.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
  • Originally founded in 1916 in the Capital District of New York. 
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  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
  • Part of the Eagle Gate College Education Group, alongside Eagle Gate College.
  • Teamed with Solutions at ECMC to help students manage educational loans and offer resources free of charge.
  • Campus located in Provo and American Fork, Utah.
  • Alumni are offered free refresher courses for any class they took in their original program of study.
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  • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,000.
  • Ranked #14 in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News.
  • The student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • At the end of their freshman year, 84% of students return to continue their education.
  • Students attend only one class at a time for four weeks, ensuring easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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Concorde , Kansas City
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1994.
  • Designated as a 2015 Top Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Currently offers over 20 degree and diploma programs in Healthcare.
  • 16 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
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