How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

If you'd like to get your foot in the door in the healthcare field, becoming a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, is an excellent first step. A large percentage of registered nurses start out as LPNs, and many healthcare administrators begin their careers as licensed practical nurses as well.

Becoming an LPN is fairly straightforward and can be accomplished in as little as one year. It's a great way to test the waters to see whether nursing is a good fit for you.

Useful Skills

The best LPNs share a handful of traits. You're more likely to succeed in this field if you:

  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Enjoy working with patients
  • Are empathetic and patient
  • Have superior interpersonal skills
  • Have excellent multitasking and problem-solving skills
  • Are strong, flexible and have a lot of endurance

Enroll in an LPN Program

Enroll in an LPN program to prepare yourself for the NCLEX-PN, or National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. LPNs in all states must become licensed by passing this exam, which is conducted by state nursing boards. The right LPN program will prepare you to successfully pass this crucial exam.

The typical LPN program involves about a year of study and training. Universities, community colleges and private medical and educational institutions typically offer the necessary courses, which include several practical nursing courses and pharmacology courses. These days, most programs are conducted partially online and partially in classrooms, so they are perfect for busy, working adults.

Explore your options carefully before selecting an LPN program. Choose one that is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC). Programs that have this accreditation tend to produce graduates who go on to pass the licensing exam.

Most LPN programs have the following requirements for enrollment:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Letters of recommendation are sometimes required
  • You usually need to have a high school grade point average of 2.0 or higher

Complete the LPN Program

The average LPN program includes several courses that introduce you to the basics of nursing. Hands-on experience is crucial, so these programs usually include internships and clinical rotations that give you a clear idea about what to expect in this type of career. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate or diploma.

Take the NCLEX-PN

After receiving your diploma or certificate, you'll be ready to apply to take the NCLEX-PN, which is administered in all 50 states. Take the exam as soon as possible after completing your LPN program to increase your odds of passing it in a single try.

Apply for Your License

Upon passing the NCLEX-PN exam, you will apply for your license with your local state board of nursing.

The path to becoming an LPN is simple and straightforward. Possess the necessary skills, enroll in an accredited LPN program, take and pass the NCLEX-PN, obtain your license and start applying for jobs. Before you know it, you will be working as an LPN at a hospital, nursing home or other facility.

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