February 27, 2---
Licensed Practical Nursing:
First Line in Healthcare
The profession of licensed practical nurse [LPN] is a beginning, a step up, or an ongoing journey, depending on what each person wants from the profession. To the beginning student, it may be the realization of a lifetime of employment. To the certified nursing assistant [CNA], it could be the opportunity for advancement in a field where he/she already has experience. For still others, it may be a stepping stone: a way to support one’s self while continuing on to the registered nurse [RN] program through LPN to RN mobility. Whatever the reason for becoming an LPN, it may be a satisfying and rewarding profession that can provide a lifetime of employment.
All states require LPNs to pass a licensing exam, known as the NCLEX-PN, after completing a state-approved practical nursing program. In 2004, there were about 1200 state-approved programs that provided training programs for licensed practical nurses. Candidates for an LPN program must be high school graduates or have a GED; however, some programs accept candidates without a diploma, and some are designed as part of a high school curriculum. (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Although the LPN program is considered a one-year program, due to prerequisite courses, the program usually requires a two-year commitment. With only a certain percentage of applying students being accepted each year, enrollment in the LPN program is limited. Opportunities in many different types of healthcare are open to those who complete the program and they can look forward to generally secure employment.
LPNs work in many varied venues throughout the healthcare industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 726,000 people worked as LPNs in 2004. About half worked in hospitals or nursing homes. Still others worked in physician’s offices, home health care facilities for the...