How to Get an LPN License

As with many healthcare occupations, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) must not only successfully complete an accredited course of training but also meet licensing requirements determined by each state's Board of Nursing. You should know what your state requires for fees, scheduling and any additional or continuing education or training requirements are included in how to get or update an LPN license. You must complete at least four steps to enjoy a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

  • Find and complete an accredited LPN program approved by your state's Board of Nursing
  • Gain practical experience in a work environment, often initially provided within the training program
  • Apply for and successfully complete the licensing exam
  • Maintain and update your LPN license within the state in which you work

Finding an Accredited LPN Training Program

Whether you enroll in a program offered by a vocational school or a community college, for example, the overriding consideration in obtaining an LPN license is that the program must be approved by the state's Board of Nursing.

You can contact this organization directly to confirm the standing of the program of your choice and to verify licensing requirements.

Gaining Practical Experience

Many courses include an internship period during which you work within a healthcare environment. You can gain experience working in a doctor's office, in a nursing facility or other healthcare environments.

If provided by the school, ensure your lab or on-the-job training experience hours are properly documented in your school records.

Applying for Your Licensing Exam

Regardless of the type of environment in which you would like to work, all LPNs must possess a valid and current license. The licensing credential for LPNs is the NCLEX-PN, which is issued by your state's Board of Nursing.

When you apply to take this test, you must request your school send directly to the licensing board your transcript, your certification of completion and a letter of program. You must also pay a fee for this test, payable whether you pass or fail. Current trends indicate first-accreditation test fees range from $200 to $350 per exam.

Maintaining and Updating your LPN License

Standards of licensing may change within your state between licensing periods. Ensure your qualifications are current and correct each time you apply to update your LPN license. Qualifications often include

  • Continuing education - Many states allow for educational seminars, conferences totaling a predetermined number of hours of attendance to meet this standard. You can also further your education toward a baccalaureate degree to become a registered nurse.
  • Practical experience - Some states require a predetermined number of related work experience hours between licensing periods. If you work full-time as an LPN in a nursing facility, for example, you work a minimum of 40 hours each week. Allowing for typical benefit packages, you should easily meet this practical experience qualification during the two- to four-year testing period without many problems.
  • Retesting exam - Once you submit the education and work experience documentation, if required, you will still have to pay for and successfully complete a licensing exam. Many states administer a harder test for experienced LPNs than for newly graduated candidates, so be prepared for a different set of exam questions and scenarios.

Your career as a Licensed Practical Nurse is just starting as you graduate. This rewarding career of helping people requires constant verification of qualifications, but with proper preparation and dedication, you should find little difficulty in how to get and maintain an LPN license, allowing for a lifetime of satisfaction.

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