If you want to work as a licensed practical nurse there are a number of LPN qualifications that you will have to meet in order to achieve this. There are a number of educational and legal qualifications, but do not forget that there are also personality qualifications that you will also have to posses if you want to be a successful LPN.
LPNs can work in several different domains which may call for slightly different LPN qualifications. They may also differ slightly from state to state. However the basic LPN qualifications remain the same.
Educational LPN Qualifications
To become an LPN an important LPN qualification that you will have to hold is a degree or certificate of some kind from an LPN school in your state that is approved by your state’s board of nursing as well as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) do not bother attending a school that is not accredited at this will effectively be a waste of your time and your qualification will count for very little. There are a number of institutes that offer the educational training required to qualify as an LPN, including:
- Technical colleges
- Vocational colleges
- Junior colleges
- Community colleges
- High schools
Note that if you complete your LPN qualification through a special program before you have finished high school you will not be able to work as an LPN until your high school qualification is also complete. However there are very few programs in place that allow prospective LPNs to do this. You will have to demonstrate that, at high school level, you completed:
- Two years of math classes
- Four years of general science classes
- Four years of English classes
If you have a fair amount of freedom when it comes to selecting your high school subjects, choose those subjects and classes that will get you ready for a career as a nurse. For example you could choose to take biology over history as this will be far more useful to you as a nurse. It will also help you to get your qualification more easily as you will already have basic knowledge of some of the topics that are covered. Subjects that could help you include:
- Health occupations
There are a number of LPN requirements that you will have to meet before you can enter an LPN program to get an LPN qualification. There requirements usually include the following in most states:
- You will need to have a GED or high school diploma. In many cases you also need a GPA of a certain amount.
- You will have to be the right age. Most states require you to be at least 18 years old while others require you to be either 17 at the youngest or 19 at the youngest before you can enter the program.
- Sometimes you will be required to pass an LPN entrance exam or to have completed certain prerequisite courses. This called the Nursing Entrance Test. It tests you on basic math, reading, and comprehension skills, the point of this test is t make sure that you have the basic skills required to survive an LPN program and get your qualification.
Most LPN qualifications take about 1 year to achieve, so be prepared to commit the time that is required to receiving your qualification.
To be an LPN you will have to attain both theory knowledge and hands-on training during your educational period.
This is usually taught in a classroom setting although some LPN schools do offer the theory side of the course online. There are a number of topics that you will cover in this regard, including things like;
- Patient care
- Basic nursing concepts
- Surgical nursing
- Obstetrics nursing
- First aid
It is a requirement in all states that you complete a certain number of practical hours before you can become an LPN. This is something that you cannot avoid, and nor is it something that can be done through an online course. The number of practical hours that you need to complete can vary form course to course and state to state. This part of your education will take place, usually, in a hospital or clinic. Clinical training can take place in:
- A hospital
- A private practice
- A clinic
During your clinical training you will be closely monitored by someone in a higher position to you. This is usually an RN. There are very few things that you will be allowed to do by yourself while you are still learning. In addition to monitoring you and teaching you how to do things correctly, your supervisor will also assess you on your progress and your level of knowledge in the practical sphere of things.
There are several benefits to the clinical part of your LPN training. For example it often happens that the institute where you did your clinical training will offer you a job once you have achieved your LPN qualification. This means that you will not have to worry about looking for another job. Or the institute may be willing to provide you with a reference letter which will make finding a job far easier as hospitals and other healthcare facilities prefer to hire nurses that already have a certain amount of experience. You will also, in general, be a more confident nurse starting out when you take the time to do as much clinical training as possible.
There are a number of specialty LPN qualifications that you could strive towards if you want to advance your career in the industry. A specialty is basically an area of nursing that you are an expert in. For example you could be an oncology LPN with expert knowledge in cancer. Here is a list of some of the most common specialties:
- Critical care nurses
- Cardiac nurses
- Medical or surgical nurses
- Oncology nurses
- Orthopedic nurses
- Primary care nurses
- Psychiatric/mental health nurses
- Rehabilitation nurses
- Addiction nurses
- Perioperative nurses
- Correctional nurses
- Emergency nurses
- Geriatric nurses
- Occupational health nurses
- Hospice nurses
- Nephrology nurses
- Neonatal nurses
- Pediatric nurses
- Respiratory nurses
- School nurses
In most cases you will have to take a background check before your state board of nursing will confirm your LPN qualification. This is because you work with people in vulnerable situations and you can therefore not be someone with a criminal record as this indicates that you do not have the trustworthy personality required in an LPN. Risks cannot be taken with the safety of patients. Usually you will have to pay for fingerprinting so that the state board of nursing can check that you are not in any of the legal systems. In some special cases you may still be able to get an LPN qualification even if you have a criminal record. In most cases, however, you will not. Other checks that you may have to undergo include a test for drugs as well as a health check as you cannot compromise the health of your patents by being unhealthy yourself.
Exam And Licensing
To practice as an LPN you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN, exam. This is also a requirement in all states and something that you cannot hope to avoid. However the exam is manageable for any nursing student who has worked hard and done all of the studying required. If you have a natural affinity for the profession you will find the exam questions easy to answer because they will make logical sense to you. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers the exam. Pearson Vue is the company in charge of the exam and you will have t pay $200 to Pearson Vue in order to be eligible to write the exam.
There are some considerations to keep in mind when writing the LPN exam. One is that it is computer based. All of the multiple choice questions will be answered on a computer at the testing center. If you do not have very good computer skills, now may be the time to work on them.
There are four main parts to the test. Make sure that you have a good working knowledge of all of them before you attempt to write the LPN exam to get your LPN qualification. The four main parts of the test are:
- Health promotion and maintenance
- Physiological integrity
- Safe and effective care environment
- Psychosocial integrity
Once you have completed all of the educational requirements and once you have passed the test you will need to get your LPN license to practice. Usually you have to apply for licensure with your state board of nursing before you apply to write the test. This is because your state board of nursing needs to assess your eligibility to sit the exam. This includes looking at the school where you did you training and deciding whether r not t is an appropriate one. There are also a number of other eligibility requirements that you will also have to meet. Like with so many other things related to your nursing career, these requirements can differ significantly form state to state. This means that it is your responsibility to contact your state board of nursing and find out for yourself what your state requires of you.
There are a number of attributes that you could call personality qualifications for being an LPN. To be an LPN you will need to:
- Be able to follow orders – there are many people in higher positions of power than you who know more than you do. Be accepting of this and do what they tell you to do.
- Be able to work under supervision
- Have good decision-making skills
- Exhibit a good bedside manner
- Have good observation skills
- Have good interpersonal communication skills – this is probably the most important skill to have. There are a number of different people that you will have to communicate with in a variety of different ways. These people include other nurses, doctors, patients, and patients’ families. It is your responsibility to communicate with these people in a way that makes their jobs or lives easier.
- Be patient
- Have a desire to learn – as a nurse you are always learning and you always need to be learning in order to keep up with technological and methodological advances in the field. A desire to learn will stand you in good stead as a nurse both while you are in training and when you start your actual career.
- Possess the ability to multitask
- Be caring and empathetic
- Be able to handle stressful situations – a number of stressful situations tend t arise when dealing with sick people. You will need to have a good tolerance for this level of stress.
There are also a number of physical requirements that you will have to meet. As an LPN you will need to:
- Be able to stand for long periods of time
- Be able to lift heavy objects with no assistance
- Be able to handle working long shifts and inconvenient hours
The various requirements that you will have to meet to get an LPN qualification are many, but they are achievable. With an LPN qualification you will also have the opportunity to move on to becoming an RN with a degree of some kind. Once you have gotten your foot in the door of the healthcare industry the opportunities that you will have are endless. In addition the healthcare industry is a very stable one in which to work as there will always be a demand for healthcare professionals.