LVN Programs Archive

LVN Programs

A Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) provides direct patient care for both acute and chronic conditions under the direct supervision of a physician or registered nurse. This is an excellent entry-level nursing career offering diverse responsibility with attractive salaries. Before you find out how to become an LVN and what are LVN education requirements, let me first show you what the career entails.

Career Overview

Becoming a licenses vocational nurse is the fastest route to entering the nursing profession. With about one year of study you will be able to provide a diverse range of patient care in many types of health care settings, from hospitals to nursing homes, community clinics, and home health agencies. Working under the direct supervision of registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses care for patients in several ways depending on their specific job. Some of the most common duties of an LVN include:

  • Take  vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Record patient medical history and current condition
  • Prepare and dispense prescribed medications
  • Assist patients with activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, grooming, eating, and walking.
  • Collect laboratory specimens such as blood and urine samples and perform basic laboratory tests.
  • Educate patients and their families regarding health promotion and wellness.
  • Supervise nursing assistants and aides.


Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for all nursing professionals is very bright with an anticipated 22 percent growth rate through 2018. This demand arises from two primary factors: 1) the aging of the population and increased need for medical services; 2) the many nurses who are leaving the profession due to retirement or change of career.

LVN Education Requirements and Training

Training programs for licensed vocational nurses are offered in hospitals, private vocational schools, as well as community colleges. Most programs take a year to complete and will require a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) for admission. Upon graduation you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination–for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Coursework in LVN programs: The following are the most common courses offered in LVN programs:

  • Basic Nursing Skills for Practical/Vocational Nurses
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nutrition and Wellness
  • Emergency Nursing  Care
  • Pediatric Nursing (caring for patients up to 12 years of age).
  • Obstetric Nursing (caring for pregnant women)
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing (caring for patients with both chronic and acute conditions).
  • Clinical training at a variety of healthcare settings. Number of clinical hours will vary by program


School Accreditation

It is important that you choose a school that has been approved by the state in which you hope to work. Most states require that LVNs graduate from nationally accredited programs since this provides evidence that the school has met high standards with regard to nursing education.

The National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as official accreditation agencies of nursing education programs. The NLNAC accredits diploma, associates, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate nursing programs while the CCNE only accredits bachelor and graduate programs.

Aside from attending an accredited program and passing the NCLEX-PN exam, every state has individual requirements for nursing practice. For this reason it is important to research your states requirements so you can be assured that you are meeting all necessary requirements. You may find the contact information for your State Board of Nursing (BON) on the Web site of the NCSBN (ncsbn.org).

Benefits of Attending an Accredited Program

Attending an accredited nursing school means that you have met the basic criteria for nursing practice and your diploma will be accepted by all State Boards of Nursing. Attending an accredited nursing school will also enhance your employment prospects and career mobility since it will be a relatively easy process to obtain a nursing license across all 50 states, provided you have also passed the national certification examination.

The NCLEX-PN Examination

The NCLEX-PN exam is used to determine whether the candidate possesses the requisite skill set and knowledge to enter the nursing profession. The exam is based more on practical nursing skills than theory. The NCLEX-PN is a computer-based multiple choice exam which uses an interactive program called Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to measure your degree of competence in nursing practice.

Licensed Vocational Nurses will need to answer a minimum of 85 questions after which the computer will attempt to evaluate your level of skills and knowledge. If you are markedly above the minimum standard for competency, you will receive a passing score; if you are below this minimum standard you will fail. If your performance is indeterminate, you will continue to answer questions until the computer can provide a definitive evaluation.

Licensed vocational nurses may answer a maximum of 205 questions. You will have a maximum of 5 hours during which to complete the test, including the time set aside for the introductory computer tutorial and for two 10 minute breaks. In effect, you have 4 ½ hours to complete the exam.

Eligibility to take the NCLEX-PN

In order to sit for the NCLEX-PN you must apply for a license through your State Board of Nursing. The board will determine whether you meet basic eligibility criteria. One criterion is that you have graduated from an accredited nursing school. Once you have been approved to sit for the NCLEX-PN by your State Board of Nursing, it will submit your name to the NCSBN who will then send you the NCLEX-PN examination Candidate Handbook.

You will also receive an Authorization to Test (ATT letter) form the NCSBN, along with a list of PersonVue testing centers and instructions for registration. 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, the testing vendor of the NCSBN by phone, online, 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 noted, 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 vocational 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 $41,04

Figures as per salary.com