Although there are very few online education options available for those who wish to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs), some vocational and community colleges award certificates or diplomas in practical nursing that can be earned through hybrid learning. Programs in this format include online lectures and assignments that are delivered by an electronic course management system, along with a series of on-campus labs and a minimum number of hours of clinical training.
To be eligible for admission into an LPN program, prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED and have satisfactory scores on placement tests required by the college. Schools may require applicants to be registered nursing assistants prior to beginning the hybrid curriculum. In addition, criminal background checks, drug screenings and health records could be required prior to enrollment.
Students who are looking for a fully online health-related program may consider an associate's degree in healthcare administration. While these programs generally prepare students for office work within medical institutions rather than direct patient care, they do not require on-site training, so they may be more convenient for students with scheduling and location constraints.
Distance learning LPN programs often have set start and end dates and can be completed in about a year of full-time study. Course topics in an online or hybrid curriculum can include the following:
- Theory and practice of nursing care
- Human biology
- Anatomy and physiology
In addition to some regular class meetings on campus for in-person instruction, students are typically required to complete clinical work at an approved healthcare facility prior to graduation.
Completion of the LPN education program prepares students for the required National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), which is a national exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org). The NCLEX-PN is a proctored, computer-based examination that covers four areas of competence, including:
- Physiological integrity
- Psychological integrity
- Health maintenance and health promotion
- Effective management of care.
Aspiring LPNs may also need to complete additional state licensing requirements to be eligible for employment. For LPNs who have already earned a license, but allowed it to lapse, there are similar hybrid, refresher programs that include a combination of online classes, on-campus labs, and required clinical experience.
Continuing Education Information
Current LPNs can find training or examinations for certain professional certifications online. These professionals can earn IV therapy certification from some schools. There are a number of options from credentialing bodies in the industry.
- The National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN) offers certifications for foot care, IV therapy, and gerontology.
- The National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc. (NAPNES) offers long-term care and pharmacology certifications.
- LPN-CLTC, which certifies LPNs in long-term care, is a professional credential offered by the National Association Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care.
In some cases, completion of an LPN education or training program may fulfill the eligibility requirements to sit for a certification exam. In other cases, online or self-directed study may be required. LPNs might also need to have a certain number of hours of work experience within a specified time frame.
Aspiring LPNs must pass a licensure exam, and a hybrid online/on-site training program can provide the necessary medical education and clinical training needed to prepare. LPNs who are already working in the field can take exams to earn professional certifications, and some online prep materials are available for these exams.