How to Choose the Right LVN or LPN Training Near Montgomery Alabama
Now that you have chosen a fulfilling vocation in the field of nursing, it's imperative that you find a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) school near Montgomery AL that will provide the right education. If you live in Texas or California, then you will be searching for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) school instead. There is no distinction, aside 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 duties do differ depending on the state they practice in, which we will cover in the following section. When beginning their search for schools, many potential nursing students begin with those that are the closest to their homes or that are the least costly. Although tuition and location are significant points to consider, they are not the only criteria that you should base your selection on. Other variables, for instance 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 course that we will discuss later in this article. But first, let's take a look at the job of an LPN and what is involved in the training and licensing process.
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Job Duties of an LPN or LVN
The most basic definition for what LPNs do is that they provide routine care for the sick or injured. They work in conjunction with RNs to adhere to a care plan for each patient. RNs typically have a wider scope of practice than LPNs, such as interacting with doctors and administering medication through IVs. While an LPN’s scope of practice may be smaller than that of a registered nurse, there are still plenty of important nursing duties on their plates. LPN duties do vary somewhat by state and employer, but in general terms they provide hands-on patient care regardless of the location or employer. LPNs are responsible for a range of patient care and administrative tasks, which can include:
- Monitoring basic patient health such as vital signs and overall condition
- Changing dressings or inserting catheters
- Taking patient histories and maintaining documentation
- Assisting with tests or procedures
- Providing personal care, such as helping with bathing and toileting
- Consulting with RNs on care plans
LPNs provide care in a variety of healthcare settings. More and more patients are seeking care in or near their homes, which has resulted in many LPN jobs moving away from the hospital environment and into more specialized settings. A few of the most common places LPNs work include Montgomery AL hospitals, physician offices, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and even correctional facilities.
LPN ProgramsAfter deciding on the type of program to pursue, students need to find one approved by their state. Each state establishes its own educational requirements for LPNs and approves the schools offering credentials. Most yearlong programs are offered by junior colleges, hospitals, community colleges or technical schools, and provide the opportunity for supervised practical nursing clinical experience. In some cases applicants can get a head start by completing prerequisites in mathematics, chemistry, biology, English and psychology prior to enrolling; however, these are not always required so students should check their program’s requirements first. Admission varies by state, although applicants need at least a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in a nursing certificate or diploma program. Additionally, some schools may require applicants to pass an entrance exam prior to acceptance to an LPN certificate program. Upon completion of an approved LPN/LVN diploma or certificate program, graduates sign up to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). All states and the District of Columbia mandate the NCLEX-PN competency exam as a core requirement to be employed as an LPN.
Taking LVN and LPN Online Classes
Attending LPN schools online is becoming a more popular way to receive training and earn a nursing certificate or degree in Montgomery AL. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for many students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. So if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online LPN program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask LPN and LVN Programs
Once you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, as well as if you will attend classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges near Montgomery Al as well as within Alabama and throughout the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other programs.
- 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 organization. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools near Montgomery Alabama.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the LPN schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some local Montgomery AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with nearby Montgomery AL community hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing 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 requirements for LPNs differ 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. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies 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 schools you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete 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 favorable reputation within the Montgomery AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
- 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.
Choose the Best Montgomery Licensed Vocational Nurse School
Choosing the right Licensed Practical Nurse school is potentially the most critical step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are many factors that you should take into account when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out within this content, it is essential that you choose an LPN college and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Montgomery Alabama.