How to Find the Best LPN or LVN School Near Helena Alabama
Now that you have chosen a fulfilling career in the field of nursing, it's imperative that you locate a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) school near Helena AL that will furnish the appropriate education. If you reside in Texas or California, then you will be searching for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) school instead. There is no distinction, except for the names, between an LPN and an LVN. They both perform the same job functions and work in healthcare facilities under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. However their duties do vary depending on the state they practice in, which we will cover in the following section. When initiating their search for schools, many prospective nursing students begin with the ones that are the closest to their residences or that are the least expensive. Although tuition and location are important considerations, they are not the only criteria that you should base your selection on. Other concerns, such as if the schools are accredited or have high pass rates on the licensing exam are extremely important as well. There are additional questions that you should ask prospective schools before enrolling in a LPN or LVN training program that we will address later in this article. But to start with, let's have a look at the function of an LPN and what is involved in the education and licensing process.
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Job Duties of an LPN or LVN
Licensed Practical Nurses have numerous functions that they perform in the Helena AL healthcare facilities where they practice. As their titles imply, they are mandated to be licensed in all states, including Alabama. While they may be responsible for managing Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), they themselves normally work under the guidance of either an RN or a doctor. The medical facilities where they work are numerous and varied, for instance hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and long-term care facilities. Anyplace that you can find patients requiring medical attention is their domain. Every state not only oversees their licensing, but also what functions an LPN can and can't perform. So based on the state, their daily job activities can include:
- Taking vital signs
- Administering medicines
- Starting IV drips
- Overseeing patients
- Collecting blood or urine samples
- Maintaining patient records
- Helping doctors or RNs with procedures
Along with their job functions being regulated by each state, the healthcare facilities or other Helena AL healthcare providers where LPNs work can further limit their job duties within those parameters. Additionally, they can practice in various specialties of nursing, such as long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.
LPN and LVN ProgramsThere are principally two academic credentials offered that provide training to become an LPN or LVN near Helena AL. The one that may be concluded in the shortest period of time, usually about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The other alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These LPN programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to be state approved and ideally accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the course of study properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Enrolling in LPN and LVN Online Courses
Enrolling in LPN programs online is emerging as a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a nursing certificate or degree in Helena AL. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend college for many students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. So if your job and family obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online LPN training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask LPN and LVN Schools
Once you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, and if you will attend classes on campus or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges near Helena Al as well as within Alabama and throughout the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the field.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the certificate program along with the school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available for non-accredited schools near Helena Alabama.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the LPN schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some local Helena AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions are of the schools as well.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with local Helena AL community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships. Also, it's important that you choose a school that offers clinical training in the type of facility you are most interested in. For example, if you want training and experience in pediatric care, make sure that the school you choose provides adequate clinical rotation in an area Pediatric Hospital.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for LPNs are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) in addition to graduation from an approved school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the LPN programs you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Helena AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
- NCLEX Exam Pass Rate. Once you receive your certificate or diploma, you must sign up for and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Enrolling in a school with at least a 75% pass rate is highly preferred. Lower pass rates may indicate that a school’s program, curriculum or instructors are ineffective in teaching its students. You can find out from the school what their passing rate is for the last 5 years, or request the information from the State Board of Nursing.
Pick the Right Helena Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
Enrolling in the right Licensed Practical Nurse school is arguably the most crucial first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various variables that you need to think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized within this article, it is important that you select an LPN school and a certificate or degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Helena Alabama.