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LPN Prerequisites and Requirements

by Adam on September 22, 2010

When you are looking for a career path, one of the things you should always consider is what is the job outlook expected to be. Some jobs require four to six (or more!) years of education but by the time you have completed your degree, it may be a failing market – not so with nurses! Whether you are considering a career as an LPN, and RN or even as a Nurse Practitioner, there are two things you can always count on. There will always be a need for nurses, and there will be a significant shortage of nurses within the foreseeable future!

What is an LPN in Relation to RN’s?
If you are considering becoming an LPN, then you know that the initials stand for “Licensed Practical Nurse.” This oven referred to as a VN or an LVN (Vocational Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse) depending on where you live. It is the first classification in the nursing field where you will be directly responsible for patient care. He or she will work directly under an RN or physician and will have many of the same duties as a registered nurse, but there will be some exceptions. The main difference (besides salary) between an RN and an LPN is the amount of education and the depth of responsibilities inherent to each job classification.

Main Responsibilities of an LPN
While there are a great many duties and responsibilities that are part of being a Licensed Practical Nurse, the most common aspects of the job would entail taking and recording vital signs. In a hospital setting, the LPN would also chart foods and liquids the patient is consuming as well as assisting in any personal care needed by a bedridden patient, such as helping them to bathe or get dressed. However, some duties are varied from state to state. For instance, in some states an LPN can dispense medications and start IV fluids. Some LPN’s can assist as a scrub nurse in the Operating Room or can help to deliver babies. While there is a national standardized examination, each state legislates what an LPN can legally do within that particular state.

Requirements for Becoming an LPN
In order to become an LPN the nursing student must complete between 12 and 15 months of education. This is not a degree program as an RN would be expected to complete, and is referred to as a Certificate Program. Part of the studies will be in a classroom setting, while some time will be spent in labs and some portion of time in clinical or practical settings actually working under the tutelage of a doctor or other health care professional. Upon completion, the student would be required to successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nursing (NCLEX PN) exam. Every state in the nation requires this prior to licensure.

Becoming an LPN is a rewarding career with a decent salary and room for growth. Many LPN’s are content with the job and simply continue their careers in nursing as is. Some go on to become RN’s, RNC’s or Nurse Practitioners. While it isn’t necessary to become an LPN before completing an RN degree, it is a great way to get your foot in the door. There are a great number of nursing schools throughout the country where you could study, both online as well as at local campuses. A quick search will yield multiple options to choose from, so finding a nursing program that fits your needs will not be hard to do.

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