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Practical Nurse Training Programs and Requirements

Formal education for aspiring practical nurses may range from earning a practical nursing certificate to earning an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in nursing. Learn about both options as well as requirements for the programs here.

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Essential Information

Practical nurse training includes formal education as well as internships. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a 1-year certificate is typically sufficient in order to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Some choose to earn an associate's degree in nursing before seeking licensure which is 2-year program. Some schools require internships as part of the program.

The BLS also reports that some hospitals provide training programs for practical nurses (www.bls.gov). These programs generally combine classroom instruction with clinical practice and take one year or less to complete. Some hospitals partner with local colleges to provide these programs. Online programs are also available.


Practical Nursing Certificate

A 1-year certificate program in practical nursing is offered by technical and community colleges across the United States. A certificate program prepares graduates to take their licensing examinations. Some students choose to pursue 2- or 4-year degrees after completing a certificate program. Typical program coursework includes:

  • Practical nursing concepts
  • Biology
  • Adult care
  • Child health nursing
  • Practical nursing management
  • Psychology

Associate's in Nursing

Some associate's degree programs in nursing focus mainly on practical nursing courses, most often during the first year. These programs prepare individuals to provide practical health care in a wide variety of settings. Students will study:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Clinical practice
  • Nursing skills

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, registered nurses make a median annual wage of $67,490 as of 2015. The employment for this career is expected to grow 16% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS.

Licenses and Certifications

All states require that practical nurses obtain licensure. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the practical nursing National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). While licensing eligibility requirements differ from one state to another, one must generally complete an approved training program prior to taking the licensing exam.

The National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Services, Inc. (NAPNES) offers two voluntary certifications for LPNs (www.napnes.org). Nurses can choose a pharmacology or long-term care certification. Those interested must pay registration fees and pass an examination in order to obtain NAPNES certification.

The National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN) also offers two practical nursing certifications (www.nflpn.org). Certifications are available in IV therapy and gerontology. An application and fees must be submitted prior to taking the examination. NFLPN certification is valid for two years.

Workshops and Seminars

Seminars are included in the curriculum of some certificate and degree programs in practical nursing. The responsibilities of practical nurses and basic skills needed to work in this field are discussed in these seminars. Practical nursing associations, such as NAPNES and NFLPN, offer continuing education seminars, workshops and conferences that fulfill recertification requirements.

Licensed practical nurses must typically complete an accredited or state-approved practical nursing program in order to earn the mandatory certification. In some cases, those who are already LPNs then go on to pursue more advanced degrees.

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