There are many advantages to becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN. In addition to having relatively affordable and simple training requirements, even brand-new LPNs enjoy competitive compensation. Before you can apply for LPN jobs, you have to take and pass the NCLEX-PN. To be eligible to sit for that exam, you'll have to complete a board-approved and accredited LPN training program. It's normal to feel intimidated at the prospect. One way to cut down on that anxiety is by educating yourself about such programs. Knowing what to expect from the curriculum is sure to help, so keep reading.
Prerequisites and Previous Education
Your previous education may impact the exact curriculum that you complete during your LPN training. Many programs expect students to already have completed certain core classes, or prerequisites. If you haven't completed them, your curriculum will have to include them, or you will have to complete them elsewhere and then enroll in the program later. On the other hand, if you fulfill certain requirements because of your previous education, you may be able to skip taking certain classes and in turn have an easier curriculum.
Typical Courses Required During LPN Training
No two LPN training programs are exactly alike. However, they all must cover certain topics, and they all have to be accredited and approved by the state board of nursing. As you investigate LPN programs, you will find that very few of them have the same exact curricula. However, certain core classes are likely to appear in the schedule regardless of where you complete your training. They may be called something different, but you will most likely have to complete the following courses while undergoing LPN training:
- Anatomy and Physiology - As an LPN, you will be expected to have a basic understanding of the human body, including its various parts and how they work together. This means having to learn a lot of new terminology, and it means a lot of intense studying. Human anatomy and physiology is the course that is usually taken to fulfill this requirement. Some programs split these up into two different courses, but most bundle them together. At the LPN level, the anatomy and physiology requirements are fairly simple. If you progress further in your career, you'll take many additional anatomy and physiology classes later.
- Nutrition - Unlike RNs, most LPNs work in nursing homes and other elder care settings. Whether they are working in hospitals, nursing homes or other facilities, however, LPNs need a strong understanding of basic nutrition to provide the best possible care. As a result, LPN students are almost always required to take at least one course covering the topic of nutrition. This type of class explains the basic nutrients that the human body needs, and it provides information about healthy dietary choices for seniors who suffer from ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.
- Human Health and Diseases - As an LPN, you won't be making diagnoses. Why then must you learn about common health issues and diseases? Mostly, courses like these are required to ensure that incoming LPNs at least know the very basics about some of the most common diseases and health problems suffered by senior citizens in particular. This type of class explains how various diseases spread and how they are contracted. It also covers important information about germs and about maintaining sterility in healthcare settings. The information that is learned from this class will serve you well throughout your career.
- Practical Nursing - In most cases, LPN students must complete several levels of practical nursing during their training. These are typically called Practical Nursing I, Practical Nursing II and so on. This class is where students really learn about the day-to-day reality of working as LPNs. It provides in-depth information about what these professionals do and about their typical duties. Most of the time, this course is completed in conjunction with clinical training experiences that allow students to put what they have learned to work in the real world. Most LPN students are excited to take practical nursing courses, as these are often among the first that are clearly nursing related.
Clinical Training Requirements of LPN Training Programs
The courses highlighted above are just the tip of the iceberg. While completing the standard LPN training program, you will complete many additional courses. What's more is that not all of your training will occur in the classroom. All LPN programs have a clinical training requirement. Students typically must complete a minimum number of hours of clinical training at local healthcare facilities to pass. Campus-based programs usually have training opportunities picked out for students. Online or hybrid programs sometimes allow students to select their own training locations. Find out before enrolling so that you know what to expect.
Most of the time, clinical training experiences are designed to dovetail with whatever you happen to be learning in the classroom. That way, you can learn the theory behind various nursing practices before going out there and putting those skills to work in the real world. Training is done this way because students tend to do a better job when they understand the exact purpose of the work that they do. During your training, you might learn about taking vital signs in class one day and then practice doing so in a lab simulation. You may then be asked to put that knowledge to work during your clinical training at a local facility. In this way, the things that you learn in class are put to real-life use, allowing you to tie it all together.
A lot of ground has to be covered during LPN training. Not surprisingly, then, this often means that LPN program curricula tend to be intimidating to prospective students. Don't worry, though. Before you know it, you will have completed your training and will be ready to take the licensing exam.