Online licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate programs are found most often at two-year community colleges. These programs are popular among aspiring nurses who are attempting to rise in rank from CNA (certified assistant nurse) to LPN or, eventually, RN (registered nurse). Once students are admitted to and complete the LPN program, they are qualified to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam; if a student passes this exam, he or she becomes a licensed LPN in his or her home state.
While the requirements to enter distance-learning LPN programs vary, all schools require some preliminary experience in nursing. At many schools, an additional pre-clinical program is necessary for admission, while other schools mandate the successful completion of an entrance exam, experience as a nursing assistant or, in some cases, all of these criteria. Before students can participate in clinical experiences, they usually must undergo a criminal background check and submit medical records documenting immunizations. Some online programs may require weekly campus visits for clinical training.
Most certificate-level LPN programs can be completed in 12-18 months, with all included courses directly related to nursing. These courses incorporate the hands-on training necessary to become experienced LPNs, meaning that practical nursing programs may not include internships or classes dedicated solely to lab work. Courses included in online LPN certificate programs include the following:
- Human anatomy
- Nursing of the aging
- Mental health nursing
- Professionalism in nursing
- Pediatric nursing
- Communication fundamentals
Distance Learning Considerations
Due to the nature of nursing programs, which require a great deal of observation and interactivity, it is impossible to offer LPN programs entirely online. LPN programs that bill themselves as online programs are actually hybrid programs, in which students can participate in lectures online, but must attend campus at regular intervals (usually weekly) to complete the clinical portions of the degree program. These online hybrid programs are identical to their on-campus counterparts, but instead of attending class on campus students will usually view and download class materials through a Web-based course management system, like Blackboard or WebCT.
Portions of LPN certificate programs are available online, but a fully online program isn't available since internships and laboratory experiences are required. The same criteria for admission and starting the clinical portion applies to online LPN programs, which provides busy professionals and students the necessary skills and education needed to move upward in the nursing field.