In 2009, approximately 1,200 State-approved programs provided training in practical nursing. Most training programs are available from technical and vocational schools, or from community and junior colleges.Other programs are available through high schools, hospitals, and colleges and universities.
Although each state has its own requirements for nurses, in general, one should have a high school diploma and no criminal record before pursuing an LPN program. A high school diploma or its equivalent usually is required for entry, although some programs accept candidates without a diploma or are designed as part of a high school curriculum.
Most practical nursing programs last about 1 year and include both classroom study and supervised clinical practice (patient care).
Classroom study covers basic nursing concepts and patient care-related subjects, including anatomy, physiology, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics, psychiatric nursing, the administration of drugs, nutrition, and first aid. Clinical practice usually is in a hospital, but sometimes includes other settings.
All States require LVNs to pass a licensing examination after completing a State-approved vocational nursing program.
Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive a certificate or diploma in practical nursing; they then sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-PN).
Throughout their careers, LPNs must renew their license through continuing education courses.
Licensed practical nurses can take extra courses to specialize in one field, such as the care of newborn infants. With further training, they may become registered nurses.