Online Schools with Licensed Practical Nursing Programs: How to Choose

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic nursing care, supervised by physicians and registered nurses. Several schools offer online courses, but required clinical experiences must be completed on-site at a healthcare facility.

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To prepare for a job as an LPN, individuals can enroll in hybrid programs that cover basic medical science topics and nursing practices. Some things to consider when choosing between programs include credentialing exam pass rates, program format and school accreditation.

Online LPN Programs

A partially-online diploma program in practical nursing typically takes about a year to complete. Such programs may be offered through community colleges or technical schools. In academic courses, students learn about the following topics:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics
  • Geriatrics

There are also practice-focused courses where students learn the skills they will need to work as an LPN, including the following:

  • Taking vital signs
  • Provide alcohol rubs
  • Monitoring catheters
  • Transporting the ill and injured
  • Feeding, dressing and bathing patients

After completing a state-approved LPN training program, graduates are prepared to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN), which they must pass before they can get an LPN job. One way to choose between online LPN training programs is to find out what the pass-rate is for graduates on the NCLEX-PN.

When choosing between programs, it is critical for aspiring LPNs to make sure that the school is accredited and provides an education that has been deemed acceptable by the nursing board in the state in which they live. Some hybrid nursing program provide programs that are acceptable for licensure in all 50 states.

Program Format

Programs for prospective licensed practical nurses require a significant amount of hands-on clinical work; therefore, they combine both online and traditional instruction. Internet-based courses have the same content as traditional courses; students access online content at their convenience, but do have to submit finished assignments by a deadline. Experiential segments may need to be completed at an assigned campus during predetermined dates or through an approved, supervised practicum local to the student.

Some online LPN programs differ in the flexibility of their scheduling. For instance, there are programs that allow students to follow full- or part-time schedules, depending on their needs. Student may also be able to fulfill in-person training requirements in the evenings or on weekends. However, in other programs, students are expected to commit to a full-time daytime schedule, even though some of the coursework is taken online. Prospective students can decide between programs based on which best corresponds with their schedule.

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Technical Requirements

A personal computer with Microsoft Office and a reliable Internet connection are often required for participation in an online program. Schools may use proprietary content management software to deliver course content, or they may employ a commercial system, such as Blackboard.

List of Common Courses

LPN diploma programs focus entirely on the core subject of nursing. Courses are divided between at-home assignments and on-site clinical internships.

Medical Terminology

Students learn to recognize and understand common terms referenced in medicine. They study prefixes, suffixes and root words as well as how to use medical dictionaries.

Nursing Fundamentals

This course surveys basic healthcare concepts and the range of healthcare interventions that practical nurses encounter. Topics also address the history of nursing, essential needs of patients, preventive medicine, nutrition and mental illness.


Drug administration procedures and the effects and side effects of common pharmaceuticals are the focus of this class. Coursework focuses on safety standards and drug identification.

Health Concepts

This course examines complex concepts relating anatomy and physiology to healthcare. Fluids and electrolytes, mobility, metabolism and perfusion are among the topics covered.

Career Information for LPNs

Possible employers for LPNs include:

  • Nursing homes
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Clinics
  • Physician's offices

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of licensed practical nurses will increase 16% over the years 2014-2024. The need for qualified professionals to meet the increased care needs of an aging population will drive job growth. Licensed practical nurses earned mean salaries of $44,840 as of May 2016.

Aspiring LPNs can get the training they need through partially-online training programs that cover key medical and practical topics. Students should be sure to choose a program that allows them to maintain their desired schedule and that has been approved by their state's nursing board.

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