Licensed Practical Nurses

LPNs have the responsibility of taking care of patients under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses. They are in charge of giving proper bedside care, preparing medical tools like injections, and collecting samples for testing. To become an LPN, you must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN), which reviews integrity, patient care, and medical safety. Most LPN programs require an internship component as part of the educational process to help prepare students for the NCLEX-PN, as well as provide them with valuable hands-on experience. LPNs are different from RNs when it comes to the level of education. LPNs take only nursing subjects through a community or technical college. RNs, on the other hand, pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing and can take more coursework that helps them become department heads and teachers within the field.

Licensure is necessary when the regulated activities are complex and require specialized knowledge and skill and independent decision making.

Lori ScheidtExecutive Director of the Missouri State Board of Nursing

"The healthcare industry actually uses a ratio of more LPNs to provide 24/7 beside care than the RNs who supervise," said Dorothy Kelly, an LPN and the state secretary of the LA Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses. "Providing a less expensive and quicker path opens doors for a rewarding career to more people, while assuring the public will receive good care when they need it."

Getting LPN Licensure and Certification

It is essential for aspiring LPNs to acquire licensure. Doing so allows them to practice legally and grants access to jobs within the medical field. "Licensure is necessary when the regulated activities are complex and require specialized knowledge and skill and independent decision making," said Lori Scheidt, the executive director of the Missouri State Board of Nursing. "The licensure process determines if the applicant has the necessary skills to safely perform a specified scope of practice by predetermining the criteria needed and to evaluate licensure applicants to determine if they meet the criteria."

To be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam, prospective LPNs must complete an accredited educational program at either a community or technical college. These programs combine classroom lessons and supervised clinical experience to teach students about anatomy, patient care, and first aid. Once students have completed these courses, they are eligible in most states to take the NCLEX-PN exam. However, some states may have additional requirements for licensure, such as internships and other hands-on experience, so contact your local board of nursing for more details.

"All states have boards who oversee the curriculum of all schools preparing students to be nurses," said Kelly. "Their mission is to protect the residents of their state from harm through malpractice. They also oversee complaints about the performance of a nurse and can revoke that license to protect the public."

Maintaining LPN Licensure and Certification

It is important for LPNs to stay on top of medical advances to do their jobs efficiently and ethically. Continuing education offers the opportunity for LPNs to keep up with advancements in technology and changes in nursing law. To ensure that LPNs stay actively involved in the nursing field, some states require that they take continuing education classes to maintain their licenses. For example, in Louisana, an LPN's license must be renewed annually. Louisiana does not require continuing education hours, according to Kelly, but most hospitals do. "Our organization promotes continuing education for our members because we know that our education did not stop at graduation from school," Kelly said. "Many hospitals provide in-house continuing education through their training departments. It can also be earned from seminars, workshops, conventions, and nursing magazines."

[T]he methods employed online accelerate learning through a format that provides immediate feedback, employs graphics unavailable in print, and is lively and entertaining so that you are not as likely to fall asleep studying.

Dorothy KellyState Secretary of the LA Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses

According to Scheidt, Missouri is different. An LPN in the state of Missouri must renew his or her license every two years and continuing education is not required.

But taking continuing education classes doesn't just have to be for license renewal. LPNs can choose to take specialized classes in areas such as pharmacology and gerontology to obtain extra credentials that may improve their employment opportunities. Whether fulfilling continuing education requirements or obtaining extra credentials, LPNs have the option to take the relevant classes over the Internet. Online programs and schools exist to fit into a busy LPN's schedule. "Any continuing education is good," said Kelly. "However, the methods employed online accelerate learning through a format that provides immediate feedback, employs graphics unavailable in print, and is lively and entertaining so that you are not as likely to fall asleep studying." This are perks that can help nearly any LPN stay on top of the nursing and medical fields.

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