LPNs provide patient care under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and nursing homes. Since hands-on clinical training in the field is generally required, practical nursing programs can't be completed fully online. However, there are many online options to fulfill theory-based course requirements. Practical nursing programs usually take a year to complete and lead to certificates or diplomas in practical nursing. Specific requirements are state-defined, but once an approved practical nursing program has been completed, students are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Online courses geared toward NCLEX-PN preparation are available, along with opportunities to fulfill continuing education requirements and specialize in specific areas.
Online Practical Nursing Courses
The following are course descriptions for some commonly offered online practical nursing courses.
- Medical Terminology Course: This course introduces students to the terminology associated with medical concepts so they can identify and understand these words while working in the healthcare field. Students are oriented to common prefixes, roots and suffixes used in the medical field and learn how breaking down words into their component parts can help in determining meaning. Abbreviations and symbols commonly used in the field are also discussed. Some versions of this course utilize Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint to help students learn and incorporate terms.
- Anatomy and Physiology Course: This course provides an introductory overview of the structure and function of the human body. Students learn how the circulatory, digestive, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal and urinary systems work both independently and collectively to support human bodily function. Students also consider the complex nature and organization of the human body on a smaller scale as they discuss the mechanisms that make up these systems, including cells, tissues and organs.
- Pharmacology Course: Students learn the basic pharmacology principles governing safe and effective therapeutic use of drugs in this course. Included is an overview of drug classifications and equivalencies, therapeutic effects, potential side effects, administration routes and dosage calculations. This course also discusses the importance of educating patients on potential side effects and the accurate administration of medications, as well as how to deal with special issues like non-compliance with drug treatment plans.
- Healthcare Education and Promotion Course: This course discusses the physical, mental, behavioral, cultural and spiritual needs of human beings through the lifespan. Students discuss major developmental milestones and differentiate between mental health and mental illness, as well as adaptive and maladaptive behaviors. The nurse's role in promoting and teaching healthy habits and choices is emphasized throughout. Students consider cultural and social factors impacting health and learn about stress management and risk reduction techniques.
- Nursing Skills Course: This course introduces the skills nurses need in order to provide safe and effective patient care. Students discuss the five major steps that make up the nursing process and take an in-depth look at the scope and limitations of an LPN's role in this framework. Specific procedures and standards of care focus on identifying patient needs, taking vitals, recording health information, observing sterilization practices and bandaging and dressing minor wounds.
- Psychosocial Nursing Course: Students in this course will focus on the role of the practical nurse, especially as it relates to methods of managing stress, grief, end of life and other sources of emotional tumult in patients. The course will introduce students to popular strategies and ideologies for handling patient emotions.