Aspiring nurses can begin their careers as licensed practical/vocational nurses, and online programs to launch such careers are available in varying formats. Take a look at important factors to consider when selecting a nursing school, and then explore some specific online programs offered at three institutions.
How to Select an Online LVN School
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) as they are referred to in Texas and California, care for the sick and disabled under the direction of a doctor or registered nurse (RN). LVNs and LPNs undergo specialized training in licensed practical and vocational nursing programs. This degree program takes a year to complete but graduates from the program must pass a licensing exam to practice as a professional LVN or LPN. Students should then weigh the licensure preparations with the program delivery.
Nurses must be licensed to practice. Online educational programs prepare students for the licensing exams issued by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The exam typically covers nursing essentials such as health promotion and maintenance, healthcare environment and principles of patient integrity.
Online LPN or LVN degrees are offered in full online immersion or hybrid programs. Full immersion programs offer complete course instruction though virtual platforms and students generally don't need to attend on campus classes. Instead, they can view lectures on a computer or DVD player and participate in class exchanges though online chat rooms, message boards and email.
Hybrid programs provide online instruction but incorporate hands on training. Students complete lessons and assignments online but they are also required to participate in weekly or monthly workshops called clinicals. During clinical, students are taught how to administer shots, handle patients and operate medical equipment.
Online Degree Programs in Licensed Vocational Nursing
Online Practical Nursing Program (Online Vocational Nursing Program)
In order to be admitted to the program some schools may require students to score high on the Vocational Nursing Admission Assessment Test, which is typically included in the admission application. The yearlong degree program qualifies students for the LPN or LVN license exam and entry-level LVN positions.
The didactic portion will require students to participate in simulated online exercises or attend on-campus class meetings. Since many online LVN or LPN programs offer students a choice of online or on-site training, students can participate in academic courses online during the week and meet once a week during a clinical, hands-on or simulated virtual training course.
Students in the program complete core academic courses in biology, medical terminology, physiology and nursing procedures. The remainder of the program focuses on clinical or technical knowledge required for medical professionals such as:
- Operation of basic medical equipment
- Dosage calculations
- Administering shots
- Dressing wounds
Online LVN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
An online immersion program such as the LVN to BSN degree track is designed for licensed LPNs or LVNs who wish to advance to a RN position. The degree introduces students to topics in nursing physiology, anatomy and healthcare administration.
The program can be completed within 2-3 years of online study and includes a core of liberal arts courses in sociology, psychology and communication alongside program topics in nursing care. Graduates from an accredited program qualify for the RN exam. Coursework also includes:
- Nursing theories and models
- Professional nursing values
- Applied psychological statistics
Schools with Online LVN Programs
National University houses an online LVN to RN program. All applicants to the program must be active licensed nurses in their respective state, and all preparation courses must be completed in time for the beginning of the 30-unit certificate program.
Indiana State University is home to an online LPN/LVN to BSN degree. There are no on-campus visits required for students, who will earn their bachelor's degree as long as they are within the United States. The needed clinical courses are scheduled close to students' residences, and graduates will be eliible to take the NCLEX-RN.
At North Central Texas College, all theory courses can be taken online in the vocational nursing program. Weekend clinicals through this program are taken at the college's Gainesville campus or at a location assigned directly to each student. An information session is required to be completed before application to the program.
Any student researching for online LVN programs will want to check the requirements for on-site attendance for clinicals, along with the prerequisites for admission, before choosing a nursing school.