Nurses are Masters at the Fine Art of Caring

How Can I Become an LPN or LVN?
© 2007 by Kathy Quan RN BSN
All Rights Reserved

Where are the schools? Are there any online programs?
The best resource for finding a licensed practical or vocational nurse program is your state's board of nursing. These can be found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing web site. Look for the state where you reside, or where you would like to attend school.

On this site you will find a listing of
accredited nursing schools for practical/vocational nurses as well as registered nurses. If links are not provided, you can perform a Google search for the school by name.

The National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc. (NAPNES) is a terrific resource for news, information, education and continuing education for the LP/VN.

Practical and vocational nurses are virtually the same. California and Texas use the term Vocational nurse or LVN and the other 48 states use Practical Nurse or LPN.

The LPN/LVN course is usually 13 to 18 months in length. LP/VN programs are most often offered through community colleges, adult education programs and vocational schools. The costs can vary widely so do your research. Some schools offer weekend and evening programs for part time students. Always check with your state board of nursing for accreditation before entering a program! Do NOT waste your time and money on a program that is not accredited because you can't sit for board exams and become licensed to practice.

Online Programs?
While you might find website that promise and programs that offer some of the components online, it is highly unlikely that you will find an entire accredited practical/vocational nursing program online. Why not?!

Subjects such as medical terminology and nursing theory can be easily taught online. However, courses requiring labs such as science courses (anatomy) that require laboratory modules cannot be done online.

Clinical practice, also known as hands-on patient care with real patients, is a requirement for any nursing program. In order to protect the public, accreditation and nursing licensure require a significant number of hours of supervised clinical instruction. Some very effective virtual modules are available and frequently used to supplement clinical instruction, but they
can't substitute for real patients.

Such things as learning to give shots, insert Foley catheters, and draw blood require actual experience with a real patient or a specialized mannequin designed for the purpose in order to become proficient.

In a nursing program you learn to do these hands-on techniques under the license and direct supervision of a nurse educator. This not only provides optimal education opportunity for the student, but also provides protection for the patient's safety and well-being.

Online nursing programs are often reserved for advanced education opportunities for licensed nurses who have had clinical experience such as LPN to RN or LPN to BSN programs. There are also a few programs that allow the LPN to attain an MSN degree. In most cases these students continue to have access to clinical settings through their jobs where supervision for new procedures can be arranged for course credit. Or the programs include modules for clinical practice under the supervision of nurse educators.

Check Accreditation First!
Some LPN/LVN programs Do NOT meet with all state boards of nursing requirements so be sure to check with your state board before enrolling in any nursing program. Don't be duped by promises that sound too good to be true!

New programs are being created all the time and may not be accredited yet. This may delay your acceptance to sit for your NCLEX licensing exam. However, they may be accredited by the time you graduate so investigate how far along in the process the school is and when they expect accreditation to be granted.