Before a person begins an LPN training program, he or she has to meet the requirements to be accepted into a program. These requirements vary from program to program, but most LPN training programs have some common requirements. These requirements include:
Age– A misconception about the LPN program age requirements exists. Many programs allow high school students to classes, but many states require the individual to be eighteen or older to practice as an LPN.
Diploma or GED Verification– If the individual is in high school, this requirement may be met by showing he or she is on track to graduate.
GPA Requirements– Most LPN programs have minimum GPA requirements which are 2.5 or higher. Some colleges will accept students with a 2.0 GPA, but these programs are rare.
Tuition– All LPN programs have a tuition requirement. The prices of the programs, however, vary significantly from one program to the next.
Prerequisites– Licensed Practical Nurse training is the first step in becoming a registered nurse. This fact makes LPN programs limit the amount of the required general education classes.
Tests– For the most part, Licensed Practical Nurse programs are not extremely competitive like RN programs. Without the competitions, difficult entrance exams are not needed.
However, some programs may require a person to demonstrate his or her proficiency in the general education requirements. This competence is typically shown by the applicant taking the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) test.
Criminal Background Check– Before a person can be admitted to an LPN program, he or she must pass a criminal background check. This requirement must be met beforehand because students work and have direct contact with real patients.
Drug Screening and Physical Requirements– As with the criminal background check, a drug screening and a physical are required because an LPN works with patients.
Once all of the above requirements are met, the individual’s application will be reviewed, and then he or she can enroll in the training program.
Diploma/ Certification Vs. Associate’s Degree
When going through an LPN program, a student can receive a diploma, certificate, or an associate’s degree. Each of these programs offers different focuses and requirements, so the student should have a clear view of his or her career path before settling on one choice.
Diploma and certificate programs are similar which means they both involve the following:
- The focus is limited to skills and knowledge associated with LPN.
- The program takes nine to eighteen months to complete.
- The student will enter the workforce quickly and complete training while working.
- The credits for a certificate/diploma program may not transfer to a higher degree.
- Employers may prefer an associate’s degree.
An associate’s degree program involves the following information:
- The focus of an associate’s degree program includes Licensed Practical Nurse training and general education classes.
- This degree requires eighteen to twenty-four months to complete.
- When entering the workforce, the student will have a more versatile credential which can generally transfer to a four-year university or college.
- The degree program is longer than the diploma/certification programs, so it requires a longer commitment.
- The admissions requirements for an LPN associate’s degree may be more rigorous than a diploma or certificate program.
General Requirements for a Diploma or Certification Program
Both of these programs have similar structure and requirements. For example, the LPN diploma and certificate programs are both terminals which means they should not be used as a stepping stone for a higher level university.
The requirements of both programs include the essentials of licensed practical nurse coursework which includes classes such as chemistry and biology. Both diploma and certification programs have clinical instruction requirements that must be met, also.
Typically a person can earn a diploma in about twelve months, but with specific diploma programs, a person can receive a diploma in as little as nine months.
Certification programs generally can take up to eighteen months to complete. When a person finishes either of these programs, he or she is ready and eligible to take the NCLEX-PN exam which is the national exam to get fully licensed.
Along with medical courses, an LPN diploma or certificate program requires the individual to have communication and empathy skills. Some of the course requirements for these two programs include:
- Practical Nursing I which is a beginning course in practical nursing and clinical care.
- Anatomy and Physiology which introduces the student to physiology, anatomy, and a variety of diseases.
- General Psychology is a look at the history and methodologies of psychology.
- Advanced Practical Nursing which expands on LPN clinical skills.
General Requirements for an Associate’s Degree in Practical Nursing
A solid foundation can be achieved with a diploma or certification, but an associate’s degree may be a better choice for some students. With an associate’s degree, the student has a broader range of career options.
If a student is considering a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree provides an excellent foundation, but the credits earned in a diploma or certification program may not transfer.
The major difference between a diploma/certification and an associate’s degree program is an associate’s degree plan includes electives and a more in-depth study of the medical coursework. Some of the typical class requirements for an associate’s degree program for an LPN are:
- English Composition which gives the student a foundation of college writing. This class may also require the student to analyze literature.
- Medical/Surgical Nursing is a class that centers on pathophysiology. Pathophysiology gives licensed practical nurse an understanding of diagnostic testing and any treatment. This course typically requires the LPN to take a clinical course which provides hands-on training.
- Mental Health Concepts which helps a licensed practical nurse to gain a basic understanding of the treatment of mental disorders.
- Intravenous Therapy which explains how to support and treat these patients receiving intravenous methods.