Making the Right Choice for an LPN School

How Do LPNs Differ from RNs?

Licensed practical nurses are supposed to take care of the patients, monitor them and perform a regular check up, whereas Registered Nurses have a different set of functions. Some of the differences between an LPN and RN have been summarized below.

1. Education

  • LPN- The students who wish to step into the shoes of an LPN must complete a practical nursing certificate or diploma program from a state-approved college. The course lasts for a year. Practical nursing programs are offered by the technical and community colleges. LPNs do not have much scope for specialization.
  • RN- Those candidates who look forward to becoming an RN have three options: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. BSN completes in four years. RNs with a BSN degree have more responsibilities, higher salaries, and supervisory roles. RN to BSN program can be completed while you are working as a nurse. ADN and diploma programs complete in 2 to 3 years.

2. Coursework

  • LPN- The coursework is not too wide and comprises of topics like food and nutrition, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology, first aid, fundamentals of nursing, human health and diseases. The curriculum consists of theory as well as practical classes.
  • RN- Registered nurses also study these topics, but in detail. Mainly, they strengthen their command in areas of critical thinking & leadership skills, psychology, social sciences, and community health.

3. Licensing/Certification

  • LPN- Most often, the aspirants get a certificate after completion of the LPN program. A few colleges offer an associate degree or a diploma. After pursuing the course from a state-approved college, the students are required to pass a licensure test (NCLEX-PN).
  • RN- The students earn a certificate, diploma or an associate degree after completing the course. Next, the students have to pass the NCLEX-RN test to attain the licensure. Registered nurses may also obtain certifications in a particular specialty.

4. Salary

  • LPN- LPN is the quickest route to enter into the nursing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals received a median annual salary of $43,170, while their median hourly pay was $20.76 (as of May 2015). As per indeed.com, these, Licensed Practical Nurses made $20.26 per hour and $36,602 per annum (as of January 24, 2017).
  • RN- RNs have a higher earning potential as compared to LPNs as they are more experienced and have a better knowledge. As per the reports of the BLS, the mean hourly and annual salary RNs was $34.14 and $71,000, respectively. According to the indeed.com, these professionals made $31.87 per hour and $71,094 per annum (as of January 23, 2017).

5. Job Duties

  • LPN- LPNs are supposed to work under an RN or a senior doctor. The main duties of an LPN include bathing the patients, emptying the bedpans, giving medication and taking vital signs. However, experienced long-term LPNs may even diagnose the patient’s condition.
  • RN- RNs can diagnose and treat the patients. They hold higher responsibilities and perform superior roles as compared to the LPNs. They also maintain nursing supplies inventory and assure quality care to the patients.

6. Work Settings

  • LPN- The majority of LPNs work in long-term facilities. They are also employed in residential care facilities, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers.
  • RN- RNs work in emergency rooms, correctional facilities, intensive care units, patients’ homes, health and safety programs, etc.

Factors That Decide Whether an LPN Program is Right for You or Not?

Although there are many colleges in the country that offer LPN programs, the students prefer to enroll in the top nursing schools to gain the quality education. Certain factors that may help an individual in deciding the best college are as follows:

1. School Accreditation

Accreditation means that the specific organization or college meets the criteria set by the Board for a particular course. Only state-approved or accredited colleges should be chosen to pursue the course. At the time of licensure, it is checked that whether the person has graduated from an accredited practical nursing program or not. The majority of the colleges in the U.S. are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. Class Size

With small class size, the teacher can pay individual attention to all the students. A minimum of 25 students per class ensures a student-centered environment. Colleges and universities having a few number of students per class should be preferred rather than large classrooms.

3. Location

The college, for which you are applying, should be easily accessible from your place of residence, without much difficulty. Look for a college that offers schedule as per your convenience.

4. Online Classes

The majority of the colleges offer web-based sessions. Students should check whether the college offers online classes or not. If the college is located at a far off place, taking online classes at home would bring some convenience.

5. Scholarship and Tuition Rates

The colleges offering affordable tuition rates and financial aid are preferred by the aspirants. Students should also consider if the college reimburses the tuition fee, in the case, you are unable to complete the course and leave in the middle.

6. Clinic Rotations

Apart from the theoretical knowledge, an LPN course must also provide clinical skills to be expertise in the field. The students must ensure that the college has well-equipped labs to deliver the required practical knowledge. Also, the students should check that the most valuable part of the program, i.e., clinic rotations is accessible by you and the college provides relevant clinic lab rotation.

7. NCLEX-PN Pass Rate

The NCLEX-PN pass rate provides with an estimate that how many students had applied for the licensure test and how many had qualified in a particular year. A glance at the last five years records would give the students an idea of the academic studies in the college.

Options to Pay the LPN Fees

LPN programs are cost-effective and offer many scholarships that can ease out your financial problem. The students can pay their fees by any of the following methods.

1. Student Loans

Aspirants can take a loan from the government. Education loans are available at lower interest rates. This makes it easier for the students to pay back the amount. The students are required to repay the loan after six months of graduating from the course. There are different types of loans that can be availed by the students.

Stafford Loan
The U.S. Department of Education offers the following programs:

• William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

• Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Programs

These programs can be subsidized or unsubsidized depending on the student’s need.

Private Loan

These loans have a higher pay limit, and the interest is not charged until you complete the course. But, as soon as the graduation is completed, the interest starts to be calculated. Eligibility for the private loan is decided on the credit score. A favorable credit score to get the loan is 650.

PLUS Loan and Graduate PLUS Loan

These loans come under the direct loan programs and FFEL. Students who are dependent on their parents and have enrolled at least half-time in the undergraduate education are eligible to apply for the loan.

Students with good credit history can avail the benefit of this scheme. This loan has a yearly limit which is equal to the school cost minus other financial assistance you received. The parents have to pay the first installment after 60 days from the date; the loan gets sanctioned.
Professional or graduate students can borrow from the PLUS Loan program.

2. Loan Forgiveness Programs

They are also known as loan repayment programs as they help the students pay back the loan. The scheme is designed in such a way that the candidate performs nursing services, and the program pays off the debt of the individual. These programs allow you to work in a nurse setting and gain experience at the same time. The candidates can visit the following links to get more information:

• Health Resources and Services Administration Loan Repayment Program

• Federal Student Loan Forgiveness

• Financial Aid Student Guide to Loan Forgiveness

3. Cash

If the students are able to pay all the fees at once, then they can deposit the amount in cash. It will save them from paying the extra money for the interest.

4. Scholarship

Many colleges offer scholarships and reimburse much of the tuition fee. The scholarships are available to the candidates who fulfill the criteria set by the college.

5. Grants

Nursing grant is an easy option to pay your education fee. Applying for a grant is a time-consuming process, but the result is worthy. For detailed information on these grants, visit the following sites:

• FAFSA

• Federal Student Aid

6. Work-Study Programs

The programs allow the students to work in the college while they are still pursuing the course. The candidates have an opportunity to work on-campus or perform community-related jobs or they can assist the teachers. Financial aid through work-study programs depends on the availability of the jobs and school funding. The students can opt for courses that are the part of the curriculum of these programs. The students can specify if they want to apply for the work-study program when they fill the FAFSA form. Click here to get more information on this.

Requirements to be Fulfilled to Get Admission in an LPN Course

The candidates are required to fulfill the following conditions in order to get admission in an LPN course.

1. They should have attained 18 years of age.

2. The applicants should possess a high school diploma.

3. Submission of the medical report and other immunization documents is mandatory.

4. A valid photo ID is an essential requirement.

5. A fingerprint report should be submitted at the time of admission.

6. Many colleges require you to complete college credits in Math, Psychology, English, Anatomy, and Physiology.

7. The aspirants are supposed to have a clear criminal history and clear the drug screening test.

Process of LPN School Application

The students who want to apply for the LPN program should complete the application process, whether online or on paper. Do not leave any section empty in the application. The application may contain questions on criminal history or disciplinary action. Many colleges test the essay skills to determine how much interested the candidate is to become a licensed practical nurse. The essay also shows your command over the language.

The Test of Essential Academic Skills– Majority of the colleges test the academic abilities of the candidates before considering them for admission. The entrance exam tests the students in Maths, Science, Spelling, and Grammar. The students can prepare themselves for the test via study material or register for online test sessions that cost around $100. Each nursing school has a different format for the test. The student should properly inquire about the examination syllabus of a specific college and prepare accordingly. One such example of the test is TEAS. The application fee for the test falls in the range of $25-$250.
The candidate is supposed to submit the following documents with the application form:

  • Application Processing Fee
  • Official Birth Certificate
  • Personal Statement
  • Equivalency Certificate or Official Post-Secondary Transcripts from all post-secondary programs
  • A High School Transcript obtained from the Department of Education or Equivalency Certificate
  • Two references that should be sent directly to Lorena Canning, Registrar through fax, mail, or email

Once you have mailed the application and the relevant documents to the college, call them to know whether they have received them or not and if they require any additional document. You can also get an idea about the schedule of your application interview.

The Interview Round

Once the application is reviewed, the college gives a call about the interview date and timing. The possible questions that could be asked during an interview include your weaknesses and strengths, why do you want to become an LPN, what goals do you have for next five years, how would you handle a dissatisfied customer or his family, what would you do if the patient refuses to take the medication, how would you react if you find that the patient’s vital signs are not good, what would you do if you don’t agree with the RN’s instructions that you were supposed to follow, etc.
Apart from answering well in the interview, the candidate should take care of little things mentioned below that make a good impression.

  • The promptness with which you answer the questions.
  • Try to give creative answers.
  • Be yourself.
  • Cover the inked tattoos as much as possible.
  • Hair should be combed, and female candidates should tie them in a bun.
  • Dress in formal attire.
  • Do not apply a strong perfume.
  • Nails should be clean and without any nail polish.

After the interview, know that how and when you will be informed of the interview results. The candidates can thank the college through a letter for giving an opportunity to attend the interview session, on reaching home.

Acceptance or Denial for the LPN Course

Mostly, the candidates are informed through a mail whether they are selected for the course or not. The letter of acceptance contains a manual of the school which includes information about the college codes, smoking policy, attendance policy, parking, and transport facility, the fee charged, uniform, and other rules.

If you do not qualify, the college authorities put you on the waiting list. Sometimes, the students selected do not turn up for the course due to financial or personal reasons. If you do not get the letter of acceptance, analyze the result to know your weakness and prepare for the next time.

Preparations Before the LPN Program Starts

Those students who have received an acceptance letter should begin the preparations as the classes would start in a short time span. It becomes imperative for you to schedule the things and finish with the pending matters. Clean your closet and room, and arrange a proper place for studying. It ensures that you have much time to concentrate on your studies.