How to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) in the USA.

Every year, the Nursing sector in the US expands. If you aspire to become a nurse, an initial consideration should be; what kind of nurse should you be? Most entry-level nurses opt for the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or the Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). Recent statistics have shown that there are about 1,885,706 LPN employed in the United States.

You probably have a lot of questions going through your mind. What do you need to become an LPN? What Salary expectations should you have? Should you become an LPN? What should you expect from LPN school? And many similar questions. Not to worry, you will have all the information you need when reading this guide.

What Are The Steps To Becoming A Qualified LPN?

Specific requirements are needed to become a qualified LPN, which we have grouped into three;

Earn a High School Diploma Or GED

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, becoming an approved LPN or LVN requires completing a licensed educational program. 

Different schools have their distinct academic requirements to grant students admission to study a course in LPN. However, getting a High school diploma or a GED is a general prerequisite. In addition, some schools have a minimum GED score that you must meet.

Complete An LPN Or LVN Training Program In Your State

These programs are essential, and they take approximately a year. Here, you will learn some basic nursing skills by engaging in several certified coursework and practical clinical experiences. 

This period is where you get to bridge the gap between theory and practice, as students are required to put their theoretical knowledge to practice. The key is ensuring that the program you choose to take is accredited. The leading organization for accrediting programs is the National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency (NLNAA). 

Pass the National Licensure Examination (NCLEX - PN)

After completing your training program, you must apply to be tested. Once the application is approved, you should schedule to take the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical Nurses exams (NCLEX-PN). 

Taking your training seriously and preparing for the exams will set you on the right track for success in your examinations. Once you have passed your assessments, you are officially ready to begin a career path in LPN. 

Are the Steps to Become an LPN or an LVN Different in all States?

No. The positions are the same; they are called LVNs in California and Texas and LPNs in all other states. So as long as you have completed your program, passed your NCLEX-PN exams, and received your licensed title, you can start practicing Nursing in any state in the US. 

Can You Become An LPN Online?

Sometimes, students seek more flexible options to earn licenses, and you might be considering the possibility of becoming an LPN entirely online. Online LPN programs are convenient and affordable. In addition, you can complete your coursework online. 

However, you will need to attend your clinical hours physically. You need to physically be in attendance because nursing is a practical course and will require you to practice what you have studied. In addition, different online programs have varying coursework and clinical practice schedules. Therefore, the number of hours for each section also varies depending on your program. 

What Is The Difference Between An LPN And An LVN? 

The primary difference between these two jobs is the terms used. A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) have the same job description. 

48 out of the 50 states in the US use the term LPN, which is why it is more common. 

The remaining two states, California and Texas, use the term LVN. 

California and Texas LVN

Here is a brief history according to Nursing licensure; until 1950, there was no licensing for professional nurses. There was no national standard with which a professional nurse could be certified. After the war, New York took the first step by creating the first licensure, and ten years later, every other state followed suit. When Texas and California were naming their certifications, they merely used different words with practically the same meaning.  

What Is The Difference Between An LPN And An RN?

A Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN) and a Registered Nurse (RN) have some key differences. 

First, they both possess different licenses because they underwent different training programs. 

For example, an LPN will undergo special practical nursing training for about a year after completing a GED or National Diploma and then take the    NCLEX-PN examinations. 

On the other hand, an RN will need to complete a 4-year undergraduate course, gaining either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). An aspiring RN will then proceed to take the NCLEX-RN examinations. 

Another significant difference is in their duties. For example, an LPN can handle minor tasks like checking blood sugar levels, collecting vital signs, distributing oral medications, and assisting patients with their daily necessities. 

An RN has more experience and can administer a higher level of care to the patient. In addition, they possess a higher level of education and have significant responsibilities like; collecting blood samples, starting IVs, conducting physical examinations, and counseling. 

What is an LPN or LVN

A Licensed Practical Nurse is an entry-level nurse trained to provide primary care to patients while working under nurses with more qualifications like Registered Nurses. They take care of vital tasks that keep the patients on the right track while undergoing treatments. 

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Can You Progress From An LPN To An RN Or Other Nursing Positions?

There is always room for growth in the medical field, so starting as an LPN and gradually advancing your career is possible. You can take some available transitioning programs to make this move possible. 

An LPN aspiring to become an RN must enroll in an accredited registered nursing program (LPN-to-ADN) or (LPN-to-BSN), get trained, and take the NCLEX-RN examination. This process will be faster for an LPN than for someone without professional experience. 

Depending on the selected program, it will take about 2-4 years. With this move, you will receive more experience, specialization, higher qualifications, and better pay.

Do Your LPN Or LVN Exam Qualifications Expire?

As a licensed nurse, you must maintain and renew your license accordingly. Failure to do this will make your license invalid, adversely affecting your career. 

Most states do not allow nurses with expired licenses to practice. Unfortunately, some states take this as a fine offense, and defaulters may have to pay a renewal fee or retake the licensure exam! 

Each state has a different period after which you must renew nursing licenses. For example, in New York, you must renew your license after three years to continue practicing. Florida has a notice that states that all LPN licenses will expire by midnight EST on July 31, 2023. 

How Much Do LPNS Or LVNS Make?

A few factors can affect the salary of an LPN. One of these factors is the location. Different states offer different pay rates depending on the demand for nurses there. Another factor is the level of education. An LPN with a bachelor’s degree will certainly make more than one with an Associate degree or a Diploma. An LPN could earn anywhere between $19 and $30 per hour. 

Recommended Reading - How Much Do LPNs or LVNs Make in The USA?

How Long Does It Take To Become An LPN Or An LVN?

Typically, an LPN in training will spend 12 months completing the coursework and clinical experience. However, some online programs are flexible enough to get you through the program in less time, say seven months. Here is a more detailed piece that tells you How long it takes to become an LPN.

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Is The LPN Program A Tedious One?

The program is quite tedious. It requires intensive knowledge in subjects like maths, biology, and anatomy. The clinical experience is also intensive. It is essential to get proper training as nursing is a practical course. 

Becoming a licensed practical nurse is quite rewarding. However, if you feel like you have a career in nursing and are looking for a means to get into the field, then an LPN is a great entry-level course. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are The Education Requirements for an LPN?

First, you will need either a GED or a National Diploma from a high school. With this, you can then get admitted into an accredited LPN program. 

Should You Become an LPN?

There are many benefits to becoming an LPN. One good thing about the program is that it is a way of checking if nursing is what you want to make a career out of since it is an entry-level course and it only takes a year.

Here are some benefits of being an LPN;

  1. Good earning potential - the remuneration for working as a practical nurse is quite competitive.

  2. Great job offers - the medical field will always require staffing, so you can rest assured of job security in this career line. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has announced that the job opportunities for an LPN will increase by 9% over the next decade.    

  3. Speed up your nursing career - If you are looking to get a fast start to your career in nursing, then getting an LPN is a perfect option. Within a year, you can secure a practical nursing license and start going after RN and other higher positions.

  4.  Work flexibility - You can continue furthering your education while working. The programs offer flexibility to students.

  5. Touch people’s lives - If you are looking for a career where you can physically meet and help patients, affecting several lives, then a job in LPN is a great choice.

What Does it Take to Become an LPN?

After about 12 months of intensive coursework and clinical experiences, you can become an LPN. 

Is it Easier to Become an LPN than an RN?

Yes. First, the education requirement for an LPN is just a diploma, while for an RN, you must have completed an entire undergraduate course of about 4-5 years. The coursework of an RN is also bulkier than that of an LPN. An LPN program will only teach you the basics; an RN program, on the other hand, will give you in-depth training. 

Is an LPN School Worth the Cost?

The average cost of tuition for an LPN school is between $10K and $15K. Tuition covers the majority of the payments during the program. Due to the high demand for LPNs worldwide and how it speeds up your nursing journey, LPN school is worth it. Not to mention the good salary you start receiving when you become certified. 

Is an LPN school worth the cost

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What Should I Expect From LPN school?

An LPN school is an institution that offers LPN courses and programs To train a student to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. LPN school can be enjoyable and intriguing.

First, the school must be accredited by all necessary educational and medical boards. Any certificate from an unaccredited program will be considered invalid. 

Here are some other things to expect;

  1. There must be solid practical teaching approaches to back up theories.

  2. Guest lecturers from reputable medical boards should occasionally visit to check in with the students. 

  3. It should have good NCLEX passing rates.

  4. It should have well-experienced tutors.

  5. Expect to take courses in biology, pharmacology, anatomy, and physiology.

  6. Expect to go on regular clinical trips.