Online Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs are a great way to start on the road to a rewarding healthcare career that offers many job opportunities, very attractive salaries, and excellent long-term career prospects.
Benefits of Online LPN Programs
With the continuing aging of the population combined with advances in technology, people are living longer with an increased need for healthcare services. As a result the demand for LPNs is very strong with an anticipated growth rate of 21 percent through the year 2018 as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There has never been a better time to begin a career in this highly rewarding profession!
Online study offers flexibility of time and place so that it is a great option for those who are working or who have family responsibilities.All that is needed to participate in online LPN programs is a laptop with a consistent Internet connection. Lectures are prerecorded so that students may listen to them at a time of their convenience. Students may easily contact their professors or peers via the many communication tools that are part of online LPN programs. These tools are in the form of chat rooms, discussion forums, email, and webcams. Because online study does not necessitate commuting and dining costs, it also reduces the total cost of attendance. Many LPNs have stated that online LPN programs provided them the opportunity to complete their education in a timely manner since many programs may be completed with a one year period. It is hard to effectively balance work with study so that distance learning has become the preferred mode of education for students across many disciplines, including the healthcare sector.
Types of online LPN program degrees available:
The most popular online LPN programs include the following:
- Associate in Science in Nursing (A.S.)
- Associate in Applied Science in Nursing (A.A.S.)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing- LPN to RN (B.S.N.): This is an especially attractive option for those LPNs who wish to advance their career and become registered nurses. It can take less time to complete the 4 year degree since coursework taken in the online LPN program may be transferable to the bachelor’s degree. Also important to note is that all or part of your tuition may be paid for by your employer in exchange for committing to remain with the facility for a certain number of years following graduation.
A high school diploma or GED diploma is usually required for admission to either of the above programs. Some programs may also require that certain prerequisite science courses, such as biology and chemistry, be satisfactorily completed.
Onsite LPN training requirements
Although online LPN programs are designed to allow you the opportunity to study from home, the clinical component of training will necessitate hands-on work with patients. No online LPN program can be completed without some onsite training. Indeed, clinical training can be considered the most critical aspect of a nurse’s education. For those who are already working in the healthcare sector, clinical training hours may be completed at your current facility. For others, you will need to schedule the clinical hours around your other work or family responsibilities. In many cases you will be able to complete these hours on a weekend or evening basis.
Curriculum in typical online LPN programs
A good online LPN program will include such coursework as anatomy and physiology, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, pharmacology, nutrition, obstetrics and gynecology, psychology, as well as clinical training within a hospital or other healthcare setting. The curriculum will also cover how to effectively communicate with patients and their families,doctors, nurses, and other members of the healthcare team.
The clinical portion of the program will cover such topics as
- Medical/Surgical Nursing (working with patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions/caring for patients pre and post surgery.
- Pediatric Nursing (the care of children and adolescents)
- First Aid and Emergency Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
In most cases the both clinical and didactic (instructional) courses will be taught by registered nurses with advanced degrees who will also serve as your clinical training supervisor.
Where to find online LPN programs
When you are ready to begin study to become an LPN, you will find that there are many excellent programs available. Just be sure to enroll in a school that has been approved/accredited by your State Board of Nursing as this will attest to the quality of education you will receive and will enhance your employment prospects after graduation..
Not all online LPN programs are created equal and you will need to perform some due diligence so you may select the program that will best meet your career goals. The choice you make will have a huge impact on your future career success so take the time to thoroughly research each program of interest. Factors to consider include whether the school has been approved by your State board of Nursing, percentage of coursework that may be completed online; number clinical hours required for graduation, academic advising and faculty support, as well as flexibility in terms of handing in assignments and logging in for lectures. Keep in mind that online programs also differ in the degree of independence they provide Some online programs require that students log on at certain times when the professor is logged on for a “virtual lecture” of an especially important topic. Other programs leave students to themselves and all work is completed independently with no required log in times.
Below are some further suggestions to guide the selection process:
Compare costs and course fees among several programs. Be sure to include the costs of books and supplies, along with any other miscellaneous materials (e.g. uniforms when starting clinical training).
Ensure that you meet all prerequisites for enrollment, such as having high school diploma or GED, and satisfactory completion of any previous science coursework that may be required.
Evaluate whether you have the self-discipline necessary to successfully complete an online LPN program. Although in theory it sounds great, it will take a great deal of persistence and focus to finish the program.
Do you have space in your home that you can devote to study and that is privately located to minimize disturbances?
Does the school offer assistance with clinical training placement. This is an important question with regard to online LPN programs since the “campus” is not necessarily located in the same area you wish to practice so that the school has no affiliation with area facilities. In many cases it will be up to you to locate an appropriate placement. However, the relationships you develop during the clinical placement can (and very often do) lead to employment upon graduation.
What type of support is available for online students? How can you connect with academic advisors and faculty? Do they have consistent “office” hours during which you may log in to chat and ask questions? Or is communication limited to discussion boards and email?
Once you graduate from an online LPN program you will need to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-LPN in order to obtain licensure. Although licensing requirements do vary by state, all states and the District of Columbia require this exam as part of the licensing process. The exam was developed and is administered by the National Council of State boards of Nursing. The NCLEX-LPN is a computer based test that covers four major Client Needs areas: patient safety and fostering an effective care environment; health promotion and maintenance; psychosocial aspects of patient care; and physical well-being.