From Schooling to Obtaining LPN Licensure

Before you enroll in any LPN program, there are a few prerequisites that you are required to fulfill, only after which; you will be deemed eligible to take the course.

  • Academic Prerequisites
    • High school diploma
    • CPR (CardioPulmonary Resuscitation) Certification
    • Proficiency in English (only for non-native English speakers)
  • Pre-Clinical Prerequisites
    • A report of your immunity status against certain diseases
    • A report of your vaccination for Hepatitis and Tuberculosis
    • A detailed report of your medical checkup

Things You Will Need for Pursuing LPN Course

Once you are enrolled in any LPN program, there are certain things you will need throughout the course. While some of them are compulsory, others are highly recommended to ensure you make most out of your course.

  • Laptop- Though not compulsory, since you can access computers at college and library, having one for your own will certainly save a lot of time. It is the most useful gadget you will need to complete your assignments.
  • Stethoscope- Besides the obvious usage, having a stethoscope with you is one of the identities of a medical professional. They come in a variety of price range and can easily be found at local stores or can be ordered online. Though a cheap one will meet the purpose, investing in a good one will serve you for a long time.
  • Penlight- This is another small gadget which is used to observe pupils. They come really cheap and can be found at the local stores.
  • Uniform- Every school prescribes its own uniform which you can purchase from the locations specified by the institution.
  • Shoes and Shocks- Nurses are generally expected to wear white shoes and socks with no distinguished designs or accessories. If you are not already having one, buy a pair from the local store.
  • Bandage Scissors- These are specifically designed scissors used by the nurses to cut the bandages without hurting the skin, and can be found in local stores at a relatively lower price.
  • Textbooks- These are possibly the most important supplements for your course. There will be several books required by you each semester, which you can buy or rent depending on your finances. Also, there are many stores both online and offline, where you can find pre-used books to save some money.
  • Stationary- Purchase binders and spiral paper notebooks for each theoretical class. Also, purchase a pocket spiral notebook for clinical sessions. Practical nurses use only black pens, so be sure to buy one.

What are You Expected to Know?

Since you have completed your high school and are going to pursue a professional course, there are certain things you are expected to know. An in-depth knowledge is not expected, but beginners concept is deemed necessary.

  • Biology- You are required to know at least high school level biology.
  • Physiology- It is the study of the relationship between different parts of the human body, something that every nurse should know.
  • Anatomy- It is the study of the structure of the human body.
  • Microbiology- A basic knowledge of microbiology is also expected to ensure that you don’t lag behind while doing the course that features many advanced concepts related to it.

What Will You Study?

The LPN course features many different subjects which you need to study. While exact subject titles may vary from course to course, some common ones are:

  • Nursing Care- This is the basic course which teaches the students the most typical job roles of the nurses. From the procedure of inserting a urinary catheter and nasogastric tube to infection control and sterile techniques, all topics are covered in this subject.
  • Psychology- This course is designed to give the nursing aspirants a knowledge of psychology so that they can understand the mental and emotional conditions of their patients.
  • Pharmacology- Since administering medicines to the patients is one of the most important jobs of practical nurses; this course teaches the candidates all the basics of drugs and the methods of calculating right dosages.
  • Nutrition and Diet Therapy- This course covers various nutritional aspects and teaches the procedure for administering the nutritious food to the patients.
  • Surgical Training- This subject makes use of your previous knowledge of anatomy and physiology to teach various procedures of surgeries and applications of surgical equipment.

Clinical Practice

Practical nursing, unlike many other courses that rely on theoretical knowledge, uses a lot of clinical experience to teach students the crux of their job. The course is generally divided in half between classroom teaching and clinical practicals, ensuring you spend a large amount of time amidst actual patients. While the aim is to expose students to overall medical and healthcare procedures, there are certain things that are highly stressed upon and are generally included in the syllabus.

  • Medical-Surgical Nursing- As the name suggests, it teaches various roles that practical nurses are supposed to play in surgeries and offers them hands-on experience with different surgical tools.
  • Maternal and Newborn Nursing- It exposes the students to the complications and delicacy associated with newborns and their mothers, teaching them various measures and cautions they must take while dealing with such cases.
  • Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing- A high emphasis is laid on teaching psychology and mental state of different patients and deal with them accordingly.
  • Pediatric- The children from birth to the age of 16-18 years are highly susceptible to various diseases and infections. Keeping that in mind, practical nurses are separately taught the procedures to handle such patients both physically and mentally.

Managing Your Time

One fact is, everyone gets the same chunk of time- those fixed 24 hours every day. While some manage to achieve a lot, others struggle to set their priorities. LPN is one such course that will consume a major portion of your time with its numerous assignments, tests, and clinical practicals, always leaving you craving for more time. The only way to get success is- manage your time efficiently and exploit every second of it. First; you need to make a list of all your priorities, block your calendar accordingly and then follow it religiously. Only after that if you have some spare time left, you can proceed to things you ‘like’ to do. For instance, if you have a major assignment to submit, don’t procrastinate till the deadline but take the lead from the start. It is always feasible to break the job into smaller pieces and then finish them off, one at a time. Like, if the deadline of any assignment is four days, a proper strategy will be something like:

Day 1: Do all the required research/studies and make an outline of the assignment.
Day 2: Complete half of the assignment.
Day 3: Complete the full assignment.
Day 4: Proofread the assignment and make corrections, if needed.
Contrary to pulling all-nighters before the deadline, this approach yields a refined quality work and is easy on your mental state as well.

Taking Your LPN Classes

You are generally provided with a course plan with a detailed description of what will be taught and when. Try to plan your self-studies accordingly to ensure you have at least given a reading to the topics before they are taught in the class. Doing so will help you better grasp the concepts and promptly ask doubts if any. Also, try to jot down the notes after the lecture in an immaculate manner which will help you retain the content for long and will also come handy at the time of tests.

Preparing for Tests

If you take your classes in the manner mentioned above, the pressure you feel before tests will be highly diluted but focused study sessions will still be required. Different people have different strategies based on their preferences for timing and individual learning curve. Though there is no one fixed method that suits all, there are a few things everyone should keep in mind:

  • First of all, create an effective study plan that suits best to your mind and body clock. Try to avoid overestimation or underestimation of your abilities and set challenging targets, which when achieved, give yourself a small treat.
  • Examinations generally demand smart work over hard work. So, if you are running behind schedule, keep calm and don’t try to read everything but select topics that are most likely to be on the tests.
  • Finally, it all comes down to time and stress management. Even if you have covered the entire syllabus, being stressed at the time of tests will highly degrade your performance. One way of countering this is to take mock tests which will help boost your confidence.

Taking Care of Yourself

LPN courses can sometimes be pretty hectic; taking a toll on you both mentally and physically. It is at those times that you need to remind yourself your goals and the greener pastures that lay ahead. Along with proper motivation, you will also need to take care of these key aspects:

  • Eat healthy, stay healthy. If time permits, workout or walk a little to keep your body active.
  • Don’t burnout. You can’t always work 20 hours a day. Take at least 6 hours of daily sleep and ample rest in between.
  • Once in a while, find some leisure time for things you enjoy, be it a book, movie or a road trip. Just don’t over indulge.
  • And finally, know your limits. If things aren’t turning out to be as you hoped, don’t remain stuck just for the sake of proving your abilities. Knowing when to let go is in itself a much-appreciated quality.

Part-Time Job

The curriculum of LPN course is very intense and demand undivided attention. However, those students who desperately want to work part-time must lay out a realistic plan beforehand. Besides classroom teachings, LPN courses also have almost equal number of practical hours in various clinical environment. Thus, you will have an overall busy schedule. So, the feasible way to pursue your job is:

  • Block the time that academics will consume.
  • Block the time for rest and daily chores.
  • Now, if you have any time left, you can choose a part-time job.

Never compromise your academics or rest time for the sake of a job, for it will badly reflect in future.

After Course Completion

One of the most common mistakes students make after graduating from an LPN course is that they start loosening up. Simply completing your course isn’t enough to work as a practical nurse, you are also required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) exam to be considered employable. Use this time to revise everything that you have studied in your course with additional emphasis on exam pattern and practice.

NCLEX-PN Application

Once you have completed your course, you are required to apply for the licensure to the nursing board of the state, in which you intend to practice. After the payment of the application fee and submitting required documents, you will receive an ATT (Authorized To Test). With the help of ATT, you can register yourself at the National Council of State Board of Nursing and schedule the examination. You will also receive an NCLEX-PN candidate bulletin with the detailed test plan and necessary instructions. The entire process may take between 30-60 days, so it is advised to start this process well in advance to avoid waiting for long periods.

Scheduling Your Exam

Once you have received your ATT, you are required to schedule an examination date based on your preference. You can check the list of testing locations to decide which one is more convenient for you. The scheduling itself can be done online or via the telephone. Most of the centers generally get filled up very quickly, so it is your responsibility to take an appointment as soon as possible, to avoid expiration of the ATT and to go through the application process all over again.

NCLEX-PN Exam Overview

National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) is an adaptive exam designed to test the overall competence of the candidates. Due to the adaptive nature, the difficulty level and duration of the exam varies on an individual basis, but the overall questions follow a fixed test plan. Also, the exam awards no scores but a binary pass/fail result. The exam basically focuses on these 4 sections of practical nursing to test your knowledge and temperament:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment- Covering a wide range of topics, this section is one of the most important segments in the examination. Approximately 21-33% questions are asked from this section. Other important topics are pediatric patients, isolation procedures, etc. Also, the legal and ethical issues in nursing, laboratory tests and result, etc., are some domains which must not be overlooked.
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance- With topics related to public health and their preventive measures, this section roughly carries around 12% of the total number of questions asked.
  • Psychosocial Integrity- This section covers the psychological phase of treatment which along with a large number of theoretical aspects like crisis intervention, substance abuse, etc., also covers many practical topics like schizophrenia, personality disorders, etc., to make up about 12% of the total number of questions asked.
  • Physiological Integrity- This is perhaps the most important section of the test which covers 43-67% of the total number of questions asked. The section in itself is very diverse in nature with further division into a number of sub-sections. Some of the highlights of this section include:
    • Elderly care, along with common medication and aging process.
    • Adult and surgical care with medical and surgical conditions, assessment, treatment, etc.
    • Child care, along with birth anomalies, common childhood injuries, diseases, etc.
    • Infectious diseases, etc.

All the sections/questions asked in the examination are taken from the topics studied by the examinees in their LPN course.

Tips for the Test

Here are a few things to keep in mind on your battle day to help bring the best out of you:

  • Be Prepared- Do not forget to bring your ID and other required documents.
  • Dress Code- No hats, coats, scarf, gloves, etc., are allowed inside the test center.
  • Don’t Be Late- If you are more than 30 minutes late than the expected time, you will be required to re-register, pay fees, and wait for another month to appear in the exam. So, it is better to reach half an hour before the exam to avoid any unforeseeable circumstances.
  • Keep Your Pace- You are allowed a maximum of five hours to complete the exam, including 2 optional breaks. It is generally advised not to apply guesswork since once you submit an answer, it can’t be reversed. Also, opt to take at least one break, 2 if time allows.

Obtaining Your NCLEX-PN Test Results

The time between appearing for the exam and waiting for the result is when you can truly relax. This duration after a hectic course and before a challenging job is the one that you must use to replenish yourself both mentally and physically. Some state boards which are registered in quick results program can provide the result within 48 hours of taking the test, but your official report and license will be obtained only after a month or two, depending on your board. The results can be checked by logging into the NCSBN website.

If You Fail

For the students who do not clear the exam in the first attempt, the board allows them to take eight attempts. The candidates need to file a fresh application, pay the fees again, obtain the ATT, and schedule an examination appointment just like the first time. The students, however, are allowed to retake the exam only after at least 45 days from the date of the last attempt. Use this time to revise your course and find out the mistakes you made the last time.

Looking for an LPN Job

After you are informed that you have cleared the exam, it’s time to start searching for the job. Use all the tools and references to find a job that best suits you. Upload your updated resume on the job portals and look for the options where you can work.