Finding the time to complete training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN, isn't always easy. If you are an adult with work obligations, family obligations, or both, squeezing your training into your busy schedule is easier said than done. Fortunately, there's another option: online LPN training. With so many busy working adults striving to become LPNs, online LPN programs are immensely popular and widely available. Still, they aren't for everyone. Read on to learn more about online LPN programs.
How Online LPN Programs Work
If you are at all familiar with the requirements for obtaining an LPN license, you already know that the examination that you must take and pass includes a clinical skills section. Therefore, all approved LPN training programs must include a certain number of clinical training hours. This work must be done on location at local medical and healthcare facilities, so there is no such thing as an exclusively online LPN training program. All programs like these are technically hybrid programs, which means that they are conducted partly online and partly on site. Some are synchronous, which means that students must log in at specific times to "attend class." Others are asynchronous, which means that students can complete work at their own pace.
The Importance of Accreditation
To sit for the NCLEX-PN, which must be passed in order to obtain an LPN license, you must complete an approved LPN training program. In this context, "approved" refers to both the approval of the state board of nursing and accreditation from a legitimate body. Online LPN training programs are held to these same standards, so it is crucial to ensure that the program that you choose is properly approved and accredited. Look for an accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, or NLNAC, and contact your state board of nursing to ensure that the program is properly credentialed.
Typical Program Length
The total length of time that it takes to complete online LPN training depends on a few things. First, if you can devote yourself to your training on a full-time basis, you should be able to finish within nine to 12 months. However, if you have to complete your training on a part-time basis, it may take up to two years. While the online aspect makes the training more flexible, it doesn't necessarily make it any quicker. That is especially true since you still have to complete a certain number of clinical training hours.
Average Cost of Online LPN Programs
Prices for online LPN training programs largely coincide with prices for "traditional," campus-based LPN training programs. Some of them cost as little as $4,000 to $5,000, and costs can often be brought down even more with financial aid from scholarships, grants, and the like. Other programs can cost upwards of $10,000 to $18,000 or more. When stacked up against the cost to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree, however, completing online LPN training is very affordable. This is especially true since entry-level LPNs earn well above minimum wage, so they enjoy a great return on their investments in no time.
What to Expect from the Online Portion
As mentioned previously, the online portion of your LPN training program may be conducted on a synchronous basis. This means that you will have to log in at specified times to participate in lectures and other online activities. It is far more common, however, for online LPN programs to be asynchronous. Typically, students are given a specific period of time to complete a certain number of tasks, but they can go about it at their own pace. The online portion of these programs typically includes lectures and interactive activities. Additionally, coursework, including reading and labs, is assigned through online portals. Students may communicate with instructors via email or, in some cases, via online chat.
Typical Courses in an Online LPN Program
The types of courses that must be completed during online LPN training are identical to those that must be taken on-site. In fact, many LPN programs offer both online and offline options, and online and on-campus students complete the same courses. Some of the types of courses that you will have to complete during online LPN training include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Health assessments
- Ethics in nursing
- Human health and diseases
- NCLEX-PN testing review
Some programs also have core educational requirements that must be met before training can begin. You can typically test out of this requirement by completing the TEAS entrance examination, so be sure to ask.
Clinical Training Requirements
In addition to completing a variety of online coursework and attending online lectures, you must complete a certain number of clinical training hours to successfully graduate from your online LPN training program. Online LPN programs handle this requirement in various ways. Some programs require students to find their own local internship or clinical training opportunities. Others have lists of options that students can choose from. Still others have specific locations where students are required to complete their training. It is important to find out how a program handles the clinical training requirement to ensure that you can easily fulfill it.
Pros of Online LPN Programs
Some of the advantages of online LPN programs include:
- Convenience - Much of the work can be completed from the comfort of home, and students are often allowed to work on their own schedule.
- Flexibility - For adults who hold down full-time jobs and have other obligations, online LPN training offers unbeatable flexibility versus on-site training.
- Savings - Although online LPN programs often cost about the same as their offline counterparts, students can save money by not having to commute to campus everyday.
Cons of Online LPN Programs
As convenient and useful as they can be, online LPN training programs aren't for everyone. Some of the potential drawbacks of online LPN programs include:
- Not Exclusively Online - Although they are often called online LPN programs, they are actually hybrid training programs because some of the training still has to be completed on-site at local healthcare facilities.
- Difficult to Stay on Track - Many students thrive with online LPN training. However, some find it too difficult to stay motivated and on track without the ongoing structure that is provided by on-site training.
Fortunately, the potential downsides of online LPN training are minimal, and most people are able to overlook them without any trouble. If you are unsure whether or not you will be happy with online LPN training, look for a program that offers both on-site and online options. If you are unhappy with online training, you may be able to switch to on-site training.
Top 3 Online LPN Programs
Kick-start your search for online LPN training programs by checking out these top-rated schools. The programs of these schools have been shown to effectively prepare students to become professional LPNs:
For many aspiring LPNs, online training programs are godsends. Without them, many simply wouldn't have the time or ability to successfully complete LPN training, and they would miss out on a rewarding and exciting career. If you are struggling to find time to complete your training, look into online LPN training today.