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Many people make the assumption that a licensed Emergency Medical Technician has a similar education to that of a Licensed Practical Nurse. Although the two professions may share similar tasks, such as taking vital signs or applying resuscitation methods, that's where the similarities end. EMTs assist in identifying the patient's initial condition but quickly place the patient in the hands of trained emergency staff. The patient does not receive personal assistance from the LPN until she is through her physical crisis and recuperating in a hospital or nursing home setting.
Contact your state's board of nursing to find out what the requirements are for an LPN license. Nursing is usually licensed through the state's medical or nursing board. EMTs are usually licensed through the state's department of health or emergency health system.
Compare the licensing regulations for an EMT to that of an LPN and see what items you need to complete to become a LPN. Most states require the completion of a one-year practical nursing program centered on courses in patient care, physiology, anatomy and first-aid to qualify for the state LPN exam. EMTs also complete a training program but focus instead on emergency equipment and skills such as dealing with trauma and patient assessment.
Enroll in, and complete the required training program. Although your EMT training and skills may be helpful, they are insufficient training for an LPN. States typically require training programs be completed before applying for a license. Nursing boards usually provide a list of state-approved practical nursing programs from their websites.
Qualify for the LPN licensing test. A completed application, a transcript sent from your school directly to the board of nursing, a completed fingerprint card and a license-processing fee must be received buy the board before an Approval to Test is received by the applicant. License processing fees vary greatly from state to state. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 to the state's nursing board.
Submit to a background check. A fingerprint card or other background check form is usually required at an additional cost to the applicant. Expect to pay from $35 to $75 for the background check process.
Schedule and take the National Council of State Boards of Nursing exam. The NCSBN developed the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses to assist state boards of nursing to make educated decisions about licensure. Scheduling the NCLEX-PN exam happens through Pearson VUE, a third-party testing service, and requires the applicant to set up a free user account at the Pearson VUE website before choosing an exam date and location (see Resources). The cost of the exam is $200 as of June 2011. Your ATT letter will tell you how to complete the scheduling process.
Although you may know whether you passed your exam the day you take the test, you must wait to receive your license before beginning work as an LPN. You may need to wait several weeks before receiving a response from your state's nursing board.
Pearson VUE provides a tutorial for test applicants at its website.