Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Archive

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) in the states of Texas and California, provide care for people who have chronic and acute medical conditions. This is a great entry-level career in the nursing field offering attractive salaries and excellent job prospects. But how do you become an LPN and what should you expect in career as a Licensed Practical Nurse? Before you find out what LPN education requirements and training involve, let me first show you what the career entails.

Career Overview

Licensed practical nurses care for patients under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians. Depending on the state in which they work, the duties of LPNs may include:

  • Record patient medical history and current condition. They then share this information with registered nurses and physicians so an appropriate course of treatment may be developed.
  • Taking patient vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure) and recording  height and weight,
  • In some states LPNs are permitted to administer prescribed medications, start and monitor  intravenous fluids, and provide care to patients who are on ventilators or other breathing equipment.
  • Monitor patients for adverse reactions to treatment and medications.
  • Dress wounds and remove sutures.
  • Record patient food and fluid intake
  • Assist with such activities of daily living (ADLs) as dressing, personal hygiene, and walking.
  • Help registered nurses and physicians with medical examinations and tests.
  • Collect laboratory specimens and perform basic laboratory procedures.
  • Educate patient and family members regarding proper medication usage and developing a healthy lifestyle.
  • Experienced LPNs may also supervise nursing assistants and aides.

Most licensed practical nurses work in hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and private physician offices. Licensed practical nurses who work in nursing homes assist with patient assessment, have input into care plans, provide direct resident care duties and, with experience, may supervise nursing assistants. In private physician offices, LPNs may schedule patient examinations, assist with medical examinations, and perform basic laboratory testing.

Career Outlook

Job prospects for licensed practical nurses are very bright. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate of all nurses, including LPNs, is anticipated to be 22 percent through 2018, much faster than the rate for most other occupations. This demand primarily arises from the continuing aging of the population and its increased need for medical care due to accident and illness. Another factor for the demand can be attributed to advances in medical technology so that people are living longer which also causes an increased need for healthcare services. 

Employment prospects are bright across most healthcare settings but will be especially strong within those settings that focus on the geriatric population such as nursing care facilities, home healthcare agencies, and adult day treatment programs. Even so, hospitals will continue to be one of the largest employers of licensed practical nurses.

Licensed Practical Nurse Education Requirements and Training

Licensed practical nurses are required to complete a one year program in practical nursing that has been approved by their State Board of Nursing. Contact your State board of nursing for a list of approved training programs. You may find the contact information for your State Board on the Web site of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing ( Most States require that an LPN graduates from nationally accredited training schools since this provides evidence that the school has met stringent standards with regard to course offerings, faculty, and clinical training.

The National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as official accreditation agency of licensed practical nurse training programs. One year practical nurse training programs are offered by hospitals, community colleges, and private allied health vocational schools. A high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is generally required for entry into these programs.

Most licensed practical nurse program include both a classroom and supervised clinical training in direct patient care. In most cases, this supervision will be conducted by a registered nurse. Coursework will include such topics as patient care, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, nutrition, CPR and first aid, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics, clinical pharmacology, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)/first aid.


LPN Certification

Aside from graduating for a training program accredited by NLNAC, every state also requires that those interested in becoming licensed practical nurses pass the national certification for licensure exam for licensed practical nurses (NCLEX-PN). This computer-based multiple choice is administered by the NLNAC and the content varies in length among different test-takers.

In general, the exam covers four areas of practical nursing practice: health promotion and maintenance, patient health and safety, physiological well being, and psychosocial influences of illness.  


The NCLEX-PN Examination

The primary purpose of the NCLEX-PN exam is to evaluate whether LPN candidates possess the requisite skill level and knowledge to perform successfully as a licensed practical nurse. Because licensed practical nurses focuses on direct patient care, the NCLEX-PN exam focuses more on the practical aspects of nursing than on theory. 

The NCLEX-PN is a computer-based multiple choice exam that uses an interactive computer program called Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to evaluate the candidate’s degree of competence in practical nursing.  To pass the exam test-takers will need to answer a minimum of 85 questions after which the software program will attempt to evaluate your competency.

If your performance indicates that you have surpassed the minimum level of competency you will obtain a passing score there and then. If the software program is unable to make a definitive decision at the point of 85 questions, you will continue to answer questions until a final determination can be made.  Test-takers may answer a total of 205 questions. The time limit for the exam is 5 hours including the time needed for the introductory computer tutorial and two ten minute breaks.

Eligibility to take the NCLEX-PN

Before you may take the exam you will need to apply for a LPN license through your State Board of Nursing. The State Board will make the determination regarding your eligibility. One requirement is that you have graduated from an accredited practical nursing program. . Once you have been approved to take the NCLEX-PN examination  by your State Board of Nursing, it will then forward your name to the NCSBN who will send you the NCLEX-PN Examination Candidate Handbook.

The NCSBN will also send you an Authorization to Test (ATT letter), along with a list of Person Vue (the testing vendor) centers with instructions regarding registration procedures. Be sure to bring the ATT letter to your testing appointment because you will not be admitted to the testing center without it. You can register with PearsonVue online (, online, telephone, or mailing in the application form.

The fee to take the NCLEX-PN is $200. payable by credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express), bank check, or money order. As indicated above, you will receive pass/fail notification once you complete the exam but these results are subject to review the NCSBN. You will receive final results approximately 4 weeks after your test completion date.

Median licensed practical nurse salary ranges in select regions.

Los Angeles, CA $45,206
Boulder, CO $42,324
Boca Raton, FL $40,471
Atlanta, GA $41,253
New York, NY $48,870
Dallas, TX $41,047

Figures as per


LPN Prerequisites -What Are They?
Prerequisites are requirements that must be met prior to embarking on something else. In this case, LPN prerequisites are courses and general admission requirements that you must meet prior to applying to a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) nursing program.

The latter term, is the LPN replacement term used to refer to practical nursing in California and Texas states. If you wish to become an LPN, you will need to search in vocational training centers or most community colleges in the US.

General LPN Prerequisites

These are prerequisites you are bound to find in almost any LPN admission application packet. They are similar and hence are required by all community colleges or LPN vocational training centers. They include:

  • A high school diploma or a General Education Diploma (GED) from an approved school
  • A high school GPA Score of not less that 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. (Exact scores may vary from school to school)
  • Proof of current immunization against Hepatitis B, Varicella, TB, Tetanus,
  • Drug screening tests including skin tests
  • Medical liability insurance cover
  • Applicant must be at least 18 years of age

Special LPN Admission Requirements

This are termed special because you may not find them in all LPN programs application packages. A particular LPN program may have a combination of all or a number of these. Some may not require them altogether which is rather uncommon. You must check with your future nursing school to get to learn what their specific requirements are. They include:

  • Valid Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) certification or any health care provider course
  • Placement in a state CNA registry
  • Current CPR certification-Basic Life Support course
  • Submit a Personal Statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Current TEAS V or higher Pre admission test or HESI Admission Assessment test scores
  • Scores for TOEFL or IELT English test for foreign/international students

Most schools that run a Certified Nurse Assistant program may allow students to be admitted without the CNA prerequisites. In this case, such students may take the CNA courses along with the LPN courses to become certified.

LPN Prerequisite Courses

For many prospective students, this is what they term collectively as prerequisites though all the above requirements are needed before admission. Prerequisites courses for LPN programs along with those of other nursing programs are usually taken a high schools level and students have them by the time they graduate. However, in the case those courses were not covered from a high curriculum they must be taken after high school usually as non-credits courses.

To ensure you have the specific LPN pre-requisites courses required by your future schools, all prospective practical nursing students must enquire or search on the schools program application page. In most cases, schools will list all the prerequisites courses needed for their LPN programs. Below is a list of common required courses:

  • Human anatomy and physiology I
  • Human anatomy and physiology II
  • Introduction to chemistry
  • Biology
  • Math
  • Elementary statistics
  • English and English Composition
  • Speech and medical writing
  • Psychology and sociology
  • Microbiology

What is the LVN/LPN Scope of Practice?

After saying so much, you might find it necessary to understand the work scope of an LPN/LVN before making a career choice.  They are nurses who provide basic patient care in hospitals, long term care facilities, physician’s offices always under the supervision of a registered nurse. LPNs have direct, prolonged and personalized relations with their patients and can by registered nurse to give feedback on the progress of the patients. They also ensure patients have taken their daily doses of medication as authorized by the RN or physician since they do not have prescriptive authority. They may administer most forms of medication apart from infusion and Intravenous therapies

An LPN is also mandated in maintaining the general hygiene of patients in addition to feeding, grooming and offering counseling. The exact scope of practice for an LPN may however vary from state to state or from one health care facility to the other.