How to Become a Nurse in 12 Months

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Nurses work alongside doctors in providing healthcare for patients in hospitals, doctors' offices and other healthcare settings. In pursuing a career in nursing, the time it takes to become a nurse depends on the type of nurse you want to be. For example, there are nurses who have registered nurse degrees (RNs) with two years of schooling; there are nurses who have bachelor's degrees (BSNs) with four years of schooling; there are nurses who have master's degrees (MSNs) who have two years of schooling after the bachelor's degree; and there are nurses called licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who have 12 months of schooling. If your goal is to become a nurse in the shortest time possible, you would pursue the LPN credential because it only takes 12 months. LPNs do a variety of job tasks such as bedside care, taking patients' blood pressure, giving medication, monitoring machines that the patient is on, or otherwise making sure that the patient is comfortable. The following article is about how to become a nurse in 12 months via pursuing the "Licensed Practical Nurse" (LPN) option.

How to Become a Nurse in 12 Months

Identify the particular LPN program that you want to pursue. If you do a Google search with the terms "LPN and Community college" there will be a nationwide listing of community college LPN programs. In addition you should contact your local community college, your local hospital and your local Red Cross organization to find out if they offer any LPN programs as well.

Attend the LPN program and take courses. The program will include courses such as anatomy, physiology, medical surgical nursing, pediatrics, nutrition, administering medication, and first aid care. The program will also include a supervised practice component where you will be required to work with patients under supervision. Doing well in both the classroom component and the supervised work component is important because when you graduate you will need to be able to get good references and letters of recommendation so that you can find employment as an LPN.

Near the end of the LPN program, get a study guide to prepare for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). This exam tests basic skills that are required for entry level practical nursing practice. There are various study guides available for this. One example of a study guide is the "Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-PN Examination Edition 3." It costs $39 and is available for purchase at Amazon.com or your local bookstore.

Contact the state nursing board of whichever state you want to practice nursing in and fill out and submit an application to become licensed as an LPN. Meet the board's eligibility requirements to take the NCLEX-PN. Then register for the NCLEX-PN. Take and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. The exam includes topics such as nursing safety, infection control, health promotion, risk reduction, pharmacology and basic patient care and comfort. The exam is administered by Pearson VUE, a computer-based testing provider. The exam can be taken in various Pearson centers which can be found in every state in the United States and in countries around the world.

Upon passing the NCLEX-PN exam, you will be licensed as an LPN by the state nursing board. Seek work as an LPN in a hospital, nursing home, home healthcare, an urban or rural health clinic, physician's office, or in travel nursing. While working as an LPN continue to take courses to maintain your nursing knowledge. And if you wish, complete additional education to get a bachelor's degree in nursing via an "LPN to RN" nursing program.

Tip

Talk with a nurse who is currently working as an LPN in order to gain insight into the LPN career. Also, if you are allowed to do so, make arrangements to observe an LPN for part of a work day or a full work day in order to get a sense of what a typical work day is like so you will know if being an LPN is something that you truly want to do.

Warning

LPNs may be at risk for back injuries or other physical injuries as as result of having to help lift or move patients. LPNs are also at risk for burnout because they are often required to cope with heavy workloads, heavy stress, and uncooperative or agitated patients.

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