How to Enroll In the Right LPN or LVN School Near Huntsville Alabama
Now that you have decided on a rewarding career in the field of nursing, it's imperative that you select a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program near Huntsville AL that will provide the appropriate education. If you live in Texas or California, then you will be looking for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) school instead. There is no difference, apart from the names, between an LPN and an LVN. They both carry out the same job functions and work in medical facilities under the guidance of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. But their responsibilities do fluctuate depending on the state they practice in, which we will talk about in the following section. When starting their search for schools, many future nursing students start with the ones that are the closest to their homes or that are the least costly. Although tuition and location are important considerations, they are not the only qualifications that you should base your selection on. Other variables, such as if the schools are accredited or have high pass rates on the licensing exam are very important too. There are even more questions that you should ask prospective schools before enrolling in a LPN or LVN training program that we will cover later in this article. But to start with, let's look at the job of an LPN and what is involved in the education and licensing process.
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LPN and LVN Job Description
Licensed Practical Nurses have numerous duties that they perform in the Huntsville AL health care facilities where they practice. As their titles indicate, they are mandated to be licensed in all states, including Alabama. Even though they may be accountable for overseeing Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), they themselves typically work under the supervision of either an RN or a doctor. The healthcare facilities where they work are numerous and varied, including hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and long-term care facilities. Anywhere that you can encounter patients requiring medical attention is their dominion. Every state not only controls their licensing, but also what functions an LPN can and can't perform. So depending on the state, their routine job activities might include:
- Taking vital signs
- Administering medications
- Setting up IV drips
- Monitoring patients
- Getting blood or urine samples
- Keeping patient records
- Assisting doctors or Registered nurses with procedures
Along with their job functions being controlled by each state, the medical facilities or other Huntsville AL healthcare providers where LPNs work can further limit their job duties within those parameters. Additionally, they can work in numerous specialties of nursing, for example long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.
LPN Certificates and DegreesThere are generally two scholastic credentials offered that provide education to become an LPN or LVN near Huntsville AL. The one that may be concluded in the shortest time period, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These LPN programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and normally require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you seek, it needs to be state approved and ideally accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants 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 LVN and LPN Courses Online
Attending LPN programs online is becoming a more in demand way to receive instruction and attain a nursing certificate or degree in Huntsville AL. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend college for many students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. Therefore if your job and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online LPN school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask LPN and LVN Programs
Now that you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, and if you will attend classes on campus or online, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges near Huntsville Al as well as within Alabama and throughout the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely 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 see how your selection compares to the other schools.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the certificate program as well as the school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools near Huntsville Alabama.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the LPN schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some local Huntsville 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 setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with nearby Huntsville AL community hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement 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 prerequisites for LPNs differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) along with graduation from an approved school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, 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 prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the LPN schools 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Huntsville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain 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 Best Huntsville Licensed Practical Nurse School
Choosing the ideal Licensed Practical Nurse school is potentially the most critical phase to starting a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you should take into account when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is essential that you choose an LPN college and a certificate or degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Huntsville Alabama.