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How to Pick the Right LVN or LPN School Near San Tan Valley Arizona

San Tan Valley Arizona licensed practical nurse reviewing patient chart with doctorOnce you have chosen a fulfilling career in the field of nursing, it's imperative that you locate a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program near San Tan Valley AZ that will deliver the appropriate training. 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 medical facilities under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. But their responsibilities do fluctuate depending on the state they practice in, which we will cover in the following segment. When initiating their search for schools, many prospective nursing students start with the ones that are the nearest to their homes or that are the least costly. Although price and location are relevant points to consider, 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 very important too. There are additional questions that you should ask potential schools before enrolling in a LPN or LVN program that we will discuss later in this article. But to start with, let's have a 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

San Tan Valley Arizona licensed practical nurse visiting with elderly woman in nursing home

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are an important part of the healthcare team, supporting doctors and nurses in caring for patients of all ages. LPNs work closely with registered nurses (RNs) and physicians to provide patients with basic nursing care. An LPN’s duties can vary slightly depending on the healthcare setting and the state in which they work. For example, some states do not permit LPNs to administer medication or start IV drips. In other states, experienced LPNs are able to supervise and manage less-experienced nurses or nursing aides.  Some of the typical duties of an LPN might include:

  • Monitoring patients
  • Taking patient vital signs and histories
  • Performing routine assessments, such as checking blood pressure
  • Changing bandages
  • Inserting IVs or catheters
  • Listening to patients’ concerns and reporting back to RNs and doctors
  • Ensuring patients are comfortable
  • Helping patients bathe or dress

LPNs can also work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including San Tan Valley AZ hospitals, doctor's offices and urgent care clinics. Due to an aging population, there is a growing need for LPNs in long-term care, such as rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers and hospice. Most LPNs work in nursing and residential care facilities.

LPN Certificates and Degrees

If you want to become a licensed practical nurse, you must first complete one year of coursework to earn a certificate or a diploma in an accredited LPN/LVN program. Most states have dozens of accredited colleges, technical schools, and hospitals that offer LPN/LVN programs. The first consideration you must make when becoming an LPN is which school you will attend. This can be a difficult choice. When choosing a school, choose one which is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. One well-known accrediting agency is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.  After satisfying the LPN program coursework and grade requirements laid out by your state’s Board of Nursing, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-PN, or the National Council Licensure Examination. This exam is mandatory for all LPN/LVN's in the U.S. and can be scheduled through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. 

Enrolling in LPN and LVN Classes Online

San Tan Valley Arizona LPN assisting patient with crutches at doorEnrolling in LPN programs online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain training and earn a nursing certificate or degree in San Tan Valley AZ. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out 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 college for some students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. And so if your job and family obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online LPN school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask LPN and LVN Programs

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 many nursing schools and colleges near San Tan Valley Az as well as within Arizona and throughout the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the certificate program in addition to the school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools near San Tan Valley Arizona.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the LPN schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Arizona school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some local San Tan Valley AZ 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 effective way to get 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with local San Tan Valley AZ community hospitals, clinics or labs and help 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 are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) together 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 essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arizona 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 confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the San Tan Valley AZ healthcare 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.

More Info on How to Become an LPN or LVN in San Tan Valley

Pick the Right San Tan Valley Licensed Vocational Nurse School

Picking the right Licensed Practical Nurse program is arguably the most important step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are various aspects that you need to take into account when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this article, it is essential that you choose an LPN school and a certificate or degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse in San Tan Valley Arizona.



 

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