In most states, a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is equivalent to a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in that both require the same amount of education and certification. Texas and California utilize the LVN designation exclusively. The job duties are similar, the pay ranges comparable. The LVN degree, while valuable in its own right for growing job opportunities, often is used by those who wish to get in the medical job market quickly while continuing their education toward reaching a registered nursing (RN) degree. The candidate must earn a high school diploma or general education degree (GED) before applying for LVN training. The 2-year LVN program consists of courses in biology, physiology, emergency medical treatment, psychology and anatomy. After completing the required coursework to obtain an LVN degree, students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to get a license to practice. Some states have additional requirements. California, for example, requires candidates to file a record of conviction report. Check with your state medical licensing board to find out about special state provisions.
Most of the coursework can be taken through Internet-based institutions with accredited LVN or LPN programs. State licensing boards require a number of hours on the job through an internship or practicum. Look for online programs with ties to local hospitals or clinics that can provide the experience following completion of the classes. Many community colleges have prepared partnerships with local medical facilities to offer online training to potential nursing candidates. Other programs are available for convenient Web-based education through institutions such as Indiana State University, which has an LVN program as well a bachelor's degree program in nursing online. North Central Texas College, Mendocino College of Nursing and National University offer accredited online LVN degree courses. Many technical schools offer LVN coursework as well. Concorde Career Colleges, Kaplan and Western Career College all have accredited online LVN programs.
Online schools offer a number of benefits, particularly for working adults looking for career advancement. While there are still exams and deadlines, the course work can be done at the student's convenience. Programs are available that offer a fast track for those with more time to spend on the work. Through some schools, an LVN degree can be earned in less than a year. As each new level of education is achieved, advanced courses can be continued online as well. Most schools that provide LVN and LPN training also offer other programs that can lead to more advanced degrees in medical technology, nursing management or other medical fields.