How do I Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2019
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To become a licensed practical nurse, you typically need to complete a course of study at a vocational school or community college. You may also need to meet a number of other requirements depending on the area you want to become licensed in. In many jurisdictions, you can become a licensed practical nurse after about a year of coursework. Many schools require a high school diploma before you can begin training to become a licensed practical nurse, though some programs are integrated with a secondary school curriculum. During the course of your study you will typically learn how to administer catheters and injections, take vitals, and provide other types of patient care.

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a healthcare professional that typically works under registered nurses (RNs) and physicians. The exact work that an LPN is responsible for can depend on the place of employment. As a licensed practical nurse, you may work in settings such as a doctor's office, nursing home, hospital, or a patient's home. You will typically be responsible for monitoring and attending to a standard of care for one or more patients, and may also perform routine tasks such as cleaning medical equipment or administering tests.


The first step to becoming a licensed practical nurse is typically to earn a high school diploma. Many schools require a diploma or a general education development (GED) certificate before they will admit you, and some areas require it by law. In other cases, you may be able to enter a program that combines a secondary school education with the vocational training required to become a licensed practical nurse. Training programs usually last a year or so, and can be found at many vocational schools and community colleges.

Most LPN training programs include traditional classroom instruction and a practical clinical component. In the classroom you will typically learn about patient care in addition to relevant subjects such as physiology, nutrition, and anatomy. Any clinical practice will typically be supervised and take place in a teaching hospital or other similar setting. The inclusion of both classroom instruction and clinic duty can ensure that you have both the knowledge and experience necessary to become a licensed practical nurse. After you have completed training, you will typically need to be licensed by your jurisdiction.

In certain places, such as Texas and California in the United States, licensed practical nurses are referred to as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Some countries have similar government licensed nursing jobs, such as the state enrolled nurses (SENs) of the United Kingdom and registered practical nurses (RPNs) in parts of Canada. Each country has its own education requirements for these types of nurses. In some countries, a four year bachelor's degree is required in order to become a nurse.



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