How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

Elsewhere on this blog, we’ve discussed what a licensed practical nurse is and what she does. Now let’s talk about why you might want to be an LPN, and how to do so.

First, pursuing a career as a practical nurse is smart because it offers you job security. The U.S. Department of Labor says that by 2020, the nation will need 1.7 million more LPN jobs than they have right now.  This is truly a growing career field, thanks largely to the aging population.

In fact, not only in the United States, but around the world, there is a global nursing shortage.

How, then, do you get on this growing career path?  One choice is to attend an LPN certification program at a local technical school or vocational center.  Sometimes, these programs offer just certification, while the better ones offer both an Associate’s Degree as well as certification. Before you commit to an educational program, though, ask yourself whether you think you have the characteristics that define a successful nurse.  This means that you would need to be compassionate, responsible, and have a genuine love for helping people. You’ll also need a strong stomach and stable emotions.  You need to know precisely the type of work that you might be called upon to do.  It could be as routine as dispensing medicine and as intimate as helping a patient bathe or change clothes.

If you think you have these qualities, you should next find a good LPN program near you. Most people will be better served by an accredited program rather than a non-accredited program. This means that any school that you’re considering, you should call (or research them online) and find out if they’re accredited by NLNAC — the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.  Some states demand that hospitals and medical centers hire only those with a degree and / or certification accredited by NLNAC.

Once you’ve selected your school, the next several months or even years of your life will be centered around getting your education there, and doing as well as possible. At the end of your nursing education, you’ll need to take and pass the NCLEX-PN examination administered by your state.

NCLEX-PN is a computer-administered exam, and is computer adaptive. This simply means that the computer asks later questions based on earlier answers you gave. The questions become harder for the person who keeps getting them right, until you’ve demonstrated true mastery of the subjects. If you keep getting questions wrong, you’ll be asked more and more questions, until you either get them right or you show the computer that you don’t know the subject adequately.

Once you pass the NCLEX-PN, your job hunt begins in earnest.  You’ll want to make connections in the medical field who can keep you abreast of openings. Also, find out where the online medical and nursing job boards are, and frequent those often. Soon you’ll have that practical-nursing career that you’ve been wanting.

In addition to LPN, you may want to consider, Nurse First Assistant, Medical Assistant or Nurse Aide.  These are all in demand everywhere.

5 Comments

  1. mark m

    Recently passed the nursing licensure exam here in the Philippines and I want to know what are the requirements for taking the NCLEX

  2. Leah

    You are correct when you said an LPN needs a stronger stomach and grip on emotions. it can be quite tasking, but it is rewarding

  3. Leah

    An LPN certification does offer more opportunities.

  4. Kadish

    I just passed my NCLEX-PN examination. i am so happy.

  5. There are lots of online nursing schools available, you just have to know how to find them. Thank goodness for the internet – it makes everything so much easier. It also helps to find info about your course, or to brainstorm with others doing similar courses or looking for similar information.

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