Nursing is a fast-growing, high-demand profession. As a nurse, you will have many job opportunities, earn a competitive salary and enjoy personal satisfaction in helping others. There are many different types of nurses and a variety of educational options to become one. You can become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in a year's time.
LPN training is offered at some colleges and many vocational and training schools. There are more than 1,000 schools that offer these programs in the United States. For a full list of schools, visit the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (see resources).
To see if you qualify, check the requirements for the schools you are considering. Most require a high school diploma or GED. Some require a background check, a minimum grade point average or have other requirements.
Visit the schools that you are eligible for and apply to the ones that best meet your needs based on location, finances and other factors. Some LPN training programs are offered during the evening and/or on weekends. You can also find online nursing programs, however, be aware that not all of the requirements can be done online. In addition to the coursework, you will need practical training at a medical location such as a doctor's office or health center. See resources for a complete list of nursing schools by state.
Study hard and complete the coursework. You will take classes on the human body, nutrition, wellness, human development and more. You will also learn how to administer shots, take blood pressure, handle emergencies, and techniques to manage patient care and other health-related issues that may arise in your duties as an LPN. The training will last about a year and will include both classroom work and work done at a health care center, doctor's office or other medical environment.
When you graduate from the program, you must take and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. This exam will test your knowledge of what you have learned to make sure you are prepared to become an LPN. As of 2009, this exam costs $200 and you are given five hours to complete it. The exam tests a variety of knowledge including healthy promotion, life development, prevention and detection of disease, and basic patient care and comfort. For information on this test, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (see resources).
Apply for positions as an LPN in doctor's offices, hospitals, wellness centers or with other health care providers. Your duties will vary according to where you work. LPN duties in a doctor's office or wellness center may include giving enemas and shots, collecting specimens, keeping records, taking blood pressure, changing dressings and more. In a hospital setting, an LPN may do some or all of the previously mentioned duties and bathe, dress and attend to the needs of hospitalized patients.
Though job growth for licensed practical nurses is at a steady pace, there are more opportunities for registered nurses (RNs). Some hospitals have eliminated LPNs and are only hiring RNs.