LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse and is the initial nursing qualification. In order to qualify as an LPN you must undertake a course on a training program which has been approved by the State Board of Nursing. The course is usually 18 months to two years long but can be as short as 12 months.
At the end of the training course, prospective candidates must pass an examination. The licensing examination is called the NCLEX-PN and is essential if you wish to go on and practice as a nurse.
Once licensed the nurse can undertake a variety of both simple and complex medical procedures, but should only do so under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a physician.
Usually, before being admitted to an approved training program you must demonstrate as a minimum that you have a high school diploma and do not have a criminal record, although increasingly, possibly as demand for the qualification grows, there are training courses which will accept you on the course without high school diploma, indeed in some cases students can start LPN programs while still in high school through vocational programs.
There are many approved training schools providing the necessary qualification programs across the country. Indeed in 2006 the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there were more than 1,500 state approved training courses in practical nursing. Since that time there have been a significant number of programs that have been designed specifically for learning online.
Most courses still however require a clinical aspect to the training which is difficult to undertake on a distance basis, so it is likely that attendance as some form of organized clinical training events will still be required. There are however many local vocation schools and technical LPN programs that offer complete courses or just specific aspects of the training regime as well as community colleges.
Once qualified LPN's are able to undertake a wide variety of activities, from simple measurements for example taking a patients temperature or blood pressure, through to administering CPR on a patient who is suffering a cardiac arrest. Most of the time however they will be administering basic care to elderly, infirm or recuperative patients in a non-hospital environment.
Andrea Jones provides valuable advice about the background, qualification procedure and opportunities presented to anyone thinking of undertaking an LPN course.