Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) does not happen overnight. It takes time and dedication to become a LPN.
In order to achieve this goal, there are various steps that must be taken. The timeframe for completing each of these steps depends on where you live and the type of program you choose. However, for most people it takes 1 – 2 years to become a LPN.
While this timeframe may seem broad, it is because there are many different types of LPN programs, some states have different education requirements for LPNs, and some people may be able to complete the program faster than others.
Below is a more comprehensive timeline of the steps required for becoming a LPN:
Step 1: Ensure You Meet Basic Prerequisites
The first step to becoming an LPN is to ensure that you meet the basic prerequisites for the program. These prerequisites will vary depending on the school or program you choose, but they typically include things like
- Being at least 18 years old
- Having a high school diploma or GED
- Having a clean criminal record
Each program will have different requirements, so it is important to research the program you are interested in and make sure you meet all of the prerequisites.
Timeframe: 0 Months
Step 2: Choose a Program and Apply
The next step is to choose the right Licensed Practical Nurse program. There are many different types of programs out there, so it is important to do your research and find one that is a good fit for you.
Some programs can be completed in as little as 9 months, while others may take up to 2 years. This typically depends on how frequently classes are provided and if you want to attend a fast-track program or a part time program that only offers classes and clinicals a few days per week.
Additionally, you will want to make sure that the program you choose is accredited and offers the type of training you are looking for.
LPN programs are typically offered on a semester basis, and admissions departments will typically allow you to apply for an upcoming LPN program assuming that the program is not full.
Timeframe: 0-2 Months
Step 3: Complete the Program
Once you have been accepted into an LPN program, it is time to complete the program. As mentioned earlier, this timeframe can range from 9 months to 2 years depending on the type of program you choose.
During this time, you will complete a variety of coursework and clinical rotations. The coursework will cover topics like human anatomy, physiology, and basic nursing skills. The clinical rotations will give you the opportunity to put your knowledge into practice by working with patients in a real-life setting.
You will be expected to complete all of the coursework and clinical rotations in order to graduate from the program, and maintain a passing GPA. If you fail certain courses or rotations, you may be required to retake them before you can graduate.
Timeframe: 9 Months – 2 Years
Step 4: Pass the NCLEX-PN Exam
After you have successfully completed an accredited LPN program, you will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). This is a standardized exam that all LPN candidates across the United States must pass in order to become licensed.
Your LPN program will likely help you with scheduling and preparing for the NCLEX-PN exam. The exam is typically offered once per month at a wide range of locations and testing centers, but availability may be limited depending on where you live.
The NCLEX-PN exam is a computerized, multiple choice exam that covers a variety of topics related to practical nursing. The test is not easy, as the average passing rate is about 66%. For this reason, it is a good idea to take the time necessary to prepare for the exam and familiarize yourself with the material. If you do not pass the exam the first time, you can retake it after 45 days.
Timeframe: 1-2 Months
Step 5: Apply for licensure and find a job
After you have passed the NCLEX-PN exam, you will be eligible to apply for licensure in your state. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but they typically include things like passing a criminal background check and paying a licensure fee.
Once you have been granted your license, you will be able to find a job as an LPN. Jobs are typically available in hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare facilities. The average salary for an LPN is about $50,000 per year for entry level positions with little to no experience, but this can vary depending on the employer and location.
Timeframe: 1-2 Months
Working as a LPN
Congratulations! You have now officially become an LPN. In order to maintain your licensure, you will need to complete continuing education credits on a regular basis. Most states require LPNs to complete at least 10 hours of continuing education every year, but this can vary.
Additionally, you may want to consider pursuing further education and training in order to advance your career. Many LPNs choose to go back to school to become registered nurses (RNs). RN programs typically take 2-3 years to complete, and they offer the opportunity to earn a higher salary and work in more advanced roles.
Becoming an LPN is a great way to start your career in the medical field. The process may seem daunting at first, but if you take the time to prepare and study, you can become a licensed practical nurse in a relatively short amount of time.