How to Become an LPN in 3 Steps
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is increasingly becoming the new educational standard for today’s nurses. But while many individuals aspire to earn a BSN, you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to begin your nursing career.
In fact, many people first become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to gain experience in the field. LPNs are integral members of the healthcare team that work closely with registered nurses (RNs) and physicians to provide patients with basic nursing care. Becoming an LPN is a great way to start your nursing career and can often serve as a stepping stone on the pathway to an associate, bachelor or master’s degree later on.
Interested in taking the first step towards a career in nursing? Here’s how you can become an LPN in a little as 12 months:
1. Enroll in a practical nursing program
In order to become an LPN, you must complete a diploma in practical nursing through an approved educational program. These programs typically only take one year to complete and help prospective nurses learn basic nursing skills through a combination of coursework and clinical experiences.
At Herzing University, practical nursing students practice applying their nursing skills in simulation labs and learn from nursing instructors with real healthcare experience. They also gain real-world experience by completing their required clinical work with a variety of local healthcare partners.
“Clinical experience is important to your nursing career because you can explore different areas in the clinical setting. Many times, you find what you like and don't like in clinical and that helps you decide what types of positions you will apply for when you graduate,” said Herzing graduate Shenese Stewart. “It also helps connect the dots between theory and practice. Reading about something and actually doing it can help solidify it in your mind.”
2. Take the NCLEX-PN exam
After graduating with your diploma in practical nursing, you will be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical Nurses exam (NCLEX-PN). You must pass this exam to practice as an LPN.
Your nursing courses will help prepare you for the NCLEX, but studying early and often is recommended. Michelle Metzger, Department Chair of Nursing at the Herzing University Kenosha campus, suggests reviewing past exams from class to become more familiar with the types of questions you might encounter on the NCLEX, as well as taking advantage of any test prep resources offered your school.
3. Start your career and keep learning
Once you’ve passed your NCLEX-PN, you’re ready to start your career as an LPN. It's common for nurses to gain nursing experience working as an LPN while they advance their education in an ASN or BSN program.
Herzing’s practical nursing curriculum is designed so that students who wish to advance their nursing education can enroll directly in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Graduates of the LPN program may be able to choose between several flexible learning options, including an LPN to BSN pathway.
Here are just a few of the advantages of becoming an LPN:
1. You can get started a lot sooner
Most BSN programs take a few years to complete, but it can take as little as 12 months to earn your diploma in practical nursing.
As an LPN, you’ll work under the supervision of RNs and doctors and may assist with a variety of patient care duties, including measuring and reporting patient vital signs, dressing wounds and administering prescribed medications.
2. Your skills are in demand
Employment for LPNs is expected to increase by as much as 12 percent through 2026, as hospitals and other healthcare facilities strive to accommodate the medical needs of an aging population.
Some LPNs work for hospitals or private practices, but there is especially high demand for LPNs in assisted living facilities and home healthcare environments. About 38 percent of LPNs worked for nursing and residential care facilities in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are many other opportunities for LPNs in long-term care, such as rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers and hospice. A small percentage of LPNs may work within the public health sector for schools, health departments and non-profit organizations.
3. You can continue your education at any time
Often, LPNs choose to advance their nursing skills and training by becoming a RN at the ASN or the BSN level. Some programs may offer an accelerated option to make your transition from LPN to RN as easy and streamlined as possible.
You can make a good salary as a Licensed Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurses earn an average annual salary of $47,050 per year ($22.62 per hour), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% of LPN’s earn on average $62,160 and higher annually. Salary is dependent on the state of employment, place of employment and relative demand in your area. Learn more about how much an LPN makes on average and find the closest estimate in your state.
In just over a year you can become educated and earn a position as an LPN, find a job with a good annual salary and build the foundation for a career in patient care.
Become Possible with Herzing University.
The biggest step to take towards becoming a new you is enrolling in a diploma program so you can become licensed to practice in your state. Herzing University offers an LPN diploma program at 5 of our ground campuses:
Is there an online LPN program?
No, there is no such thing as an accredited 100% online LPN program. You may take a portion of your general education requirement online, but the most important education you can get is the on campus experience with simulation labs and direct support from nursing instructors.