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How to Open a Vocational Nursing School

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Licensed vocation and practical nurses assist registered nurses by administering nursing interventions. Although their practice is under the supervision of a registered nurse, they can independently perform treatment and therefore expand the capacity and reach of a nursing staff. LVN and LPN education is a one-year certification program. Schools offering LVN education must attain state licensing and national accreditation through a somewhat complicated, multi-step process.

Study the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commision's standards for practical nursing programs. They are available online as well as by mail upon request to the commission. The standards outline necessary staff, faculty, curriculum, resources and outcomes required for your LPN school to receive national recognition that many states, including Nevada, require in order to hold a license to operate.

Write your curriculum per NLNAC standards. Select appropriate texts and materials to accompany your curriculum outline as they will strengthen your applications for licensing and accreditation.

Ask your state board of nursing for its licensing and accreditation standards. Although states such as Nevada mirror national standards, California and Texas allow programs non-NLNAC programs to operate if they meet state board of nursing requirements. Ask your nursing board for an application to become a new LVN or LPN program.

Apply to additional state agencies as required by your nursing board. Texas, for example, requires non-university or college affiliated schools to receive approval as a vocational training program from the Texas Workforce Commission before they can apply for practical nursing program approval.

Submit an application to your state nursing board complete with curriculum outline and a business plan. If you follow the national accreditation standards, you will have all the correct documents and elements in place. These include an administrator who is a registered nurse with a graduate degree in nursing as well as having 50 percent of your faculty with graduate nursing degrees. Detailed curriculum that includes ethics and diversity; technological and academic resources; and detailed evaluation processes for faculty and program are some of the key components required.

Attend nursing board meetings when your application is up for review. The board may have questions for you before it will rule on your program. You may be asked to make changes to your plans before you can be approved.

Apply for accreditation with the NLNAC, especially if your state requires it. You will need the same detailed information as you would if applying directly to the state and your application should address all points of the standards you received from the commission. If the NLNAC approves your application, you will gain provisional accreditation.

Begin classes as a provisionally accredited school when you receive approval from your state or NLNAC. You will need to work closely with your accrediting body while it evaluates your program for the first year of operation. Expect visits, requests for documents and interaction between accreditation reviewers and your faculty and students. NLNAC will only approve your school's full accreditation once your first class has graduated and achieved an 80 percent pass rate at the NCLEX-PN national licensure exam. Given that nursing candidates sometimes sit for the NCLEX more than once before passing the exam, you may experience a delay in achieving full accreditation.


Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.