If you are eager to get the ball rolling on a career in nursing, you don't have to endure four years of nursing school first. By completing your Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN, training first, you can become an LPN in a fraction of the time. As for exactly how long it takes to complete LPN training, that varies from one program to the next. However, you are sure to complete the training far faster than the training for all other nursing careers. Upon passing the NCLEX-PN and receiving your license, you can start applying for LPN jobs. Learn more about what affects LPN program length by reading on below.
Typical Length of LPN Training
There aren't any hard and fast rules when it comes to the standard length of LPN training. However, the vast majority of LPN programs require about 40 credit hours, or three semesters' worth of training. This typically averages out to a year, but that doesn't mean that all LPN trainees are finished in 12 months. Most LPN students complete their training in 12 to 18 months, and the total length of time varies due to a number of factors.
Factors Affecting LPN Training Length
While all board-approved LPN programs must meet many strict requirements, there is no across-the-board standard when it comes to program length. Some factors help to reduce program length. For example, having the ability to complete some of the work online may save you some time. Other factors may cause your training to take longer. For instance, if you can only complete your training on a part-time basis while holding down a job or handling other obligations, it may take closer to 18 months or longer before you are finished.
Some of the main factors affecting LPN program length include:
- Type of School - One of the main factors affecting the typical length of an LPN program is the type of school that is offering the training. Many adult educational programs, which are designed for adults who have no college education, community colleges and vocational schools offer more abbreviated training programs. On the other end of the spectrum, four-year colleges and universities sometimes offer such training, but students usually have to complete so many prerequisites first that it takes two to three years to finish.
- Full or Part Time - If you are able to dedicate most of your time to your LPN training, you should be able to knock it out in a year or less. Like many people, however, you may have to hold down a full-time job while attending school, or you may have family obligations to tend to some of the time. If you can only complete your training on a part-time basis, it stands to reason that it will take longer to complete.
- Entrance Exams - Some programs require incoming students to complete entrance exams so that their basic knowledge can quickly be assessed. Most of the time, this is just done to weed out people who are sorely lacking in basic education. Sometimes, however, such exams are used to award students with credits earned for certain subjects. Indeed, you may be able to "test out" of some requirements - which means that you will need fewer credits to graduate and may be able to complete your training that much faster. If you are given the opportunity to test out of any requirements, make sure to do so as it can save you time and money.
- Online Training - There is no such thing as LPN training that is exclusively handled online. That's because clinical training experiences are a crucial part of the curriculum, and they are required as students must demonstrate proficiency with several skills during the NCLEX-PN. With all of that being said, you may be able to complete your training faster by opting for an online program. Technically speaking, it would be a hybrid program, as some of the training is done "offline." Try to find a program that offers asynchronous online training, which means that students can complete work at their own pace rather than have to be signed in at certain times.
- Clinical Training - Clinical training is an essential part of any LPN program. Even if you opt for online LPN training, you will have to complete a certain number of clinical training credit hours to pass. The total length of the program is affected by how many clinical training hours are required. Most programs have very similar requirements in this department, but always read the fine print about clinical training to avoid any unpleasant surprises. If you currently work in the healthcare field, you may be able to apply some of your experience to fulfill this requirement and save time.
Accelerated LPN Programs and Bridge Programs
If you are especially eager to complete your LPN training so that you can start applying for jobs, you might also consider an LPN bridge program or an accelerated LPN program. If you are a working CNA, the former takes your previous experience and education into account, allowing you to potentially graduate in a shorter period of time. Meanwhile, if you already have a degree in a different field, you may be eligible to complete an accelerated LPN program. Such programs can be completed in as little as nine months, so they are worth looking into. Many offer hybrid options as well, with some of the work being done online and some in person.
It may seem like it's a long way off still, but your LPN training will be over before you know it. As you enter the world of nursing, remember to keep furthering your education to enjoy more advanced roles and more competitive pay.