How to Find the Best LVN or LPN School Near Opelika Alabama
Once you have decided on a rewarding career in the field of nursing, it's imperative that you choose a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program near Opelika AL that will deliver the proper education. If you reside in Texas or California, then you will be looking for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) school instead. There is no difference, except for the names, between an LPN and an LVN. They both perform the same job functions and work in healthcare facilities under the guidance of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. However their functions do vary depending on the state they practice in, which we will cover in the next segment. When starting their search for schools, many future nursing students start with those that are the nearest to their residences or that are the least costly. Although cost and location are significant points to consider, they are not the only criteria that you should base your selection on. Other factors, such as if the schools are accredited or have high pass rates on the licensing exam are extremely important also. There are additional questions that you should ask potential schools before enrolling in a LPN or LVN training program that we will address later in this article. But first, let's take a look at the role of an LPN and what is involved in the training and licensing process.
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LPN and LVN Job Description
Licensed Practical Nurses have many tasks that they accomplish in the Opelika AL healthcare facilities where they are employed. As their titles signify, they are required to be licensed in all states, including Alabama. While they may be accountable for overseeing Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), they themselves generally work under the oversight of either an RN or a doctor. The medical care facilities where they work are numerous and diverse, for example hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and long-term care facilities. Anywhere that you can encounter patients requiring medical care is their dominion. Each state not only oversees their licensing, but also what functions an LPN can and can't perform. So based on the state, their daily work functions may include:
- Measuring vital signs
- Giving medicines
- Initiating IV drips
- Observing patients
- Collecting blood or urine samples
- Keeping patient records
- Helping physicians or RNs with procedures
Along with their job responsibilities being governed by each state, the healthcare facilities or other Opelika AL healthcare providers where LPNs work can additionally limit their job roles within those parameters. Additionally, they can practice in various specialties of nursing, including long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.
LVN and LPN TrainingThere are basically two academic credentials offered that provide education to become an LPN or LVN near Opelika AL. The one that can be finished in the shortest time frame, commonly about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The other alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These LPN programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides supplying a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they furnish 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 another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Taking LPN and LVN Courses Online
Attending LPN programs online is growing into a more in demand way to receive training and earn a nursing certificate or degree in Opelika AL. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. So if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online LPN school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask LPN and LVN Schools
Now that you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, as well as if you will attend classes on campus or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges near Opelika Al as well as within Alabama and throughout the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other schools.
- 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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping verify that you get a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools near Opelika 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 also. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some local Opelika AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements are of the schools as well.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with local Opelika 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 prerequisites for LPNs differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) along with graduation from an approved school. Certain states require a specified 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 delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the LPN schools you are looking at 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 dissatisfied 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 Opelika AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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 Opelika Licensed Vocational Nurse Program
Deciding on the right Licensed Practical Nurse program is probably the most important phase to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of aspects that you need to think about when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this article, it is essential that you enroll in 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 create a short list of schools to select 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 an LPN in Opelika Alabama.