What can I do with an Associate degree if my career goal is to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)?

With the high demand for nursing personnel, a profession within the healthcare industry offers you many options. If you have gained valuable work experience as a CNA, you have probably thought about an advancement in your educational journey to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). Either of these options is the next logical step up. Completion of an associate program or diploma is required to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, a Licensed Vocational Nurse.

By the way, the term Licensed Vocational Nurse is a job title for those practicing in the states of Texas or California. The job title of Licensed Practical Nurse applies to all other states.

As a Licensed Practical Nurse, you will be responsible for providing the basic everyday needs to your patients by assisting Registered Nurses. This may include taking vital signs, checking on patients, dressing wounds, filling out help forms, setting up medical equipment and helping patients bathe. In some states, LPNs are authorized to administer medications.

The basic prerequisites for admission into a LPN program requires a minimum of a high school diploma or GED and in some cases, a certified nursing certificate with the completion of specified classes such as biology or other related medical science coursework. Licensed Practical Nurse programs are not offered online. You must attend classes in-person, in an on-campus setting usually offered at your local community college or a nursing vocational school.

As with other healthcare related careers in nursing, be sure to locate an accredited school that is approved by your state’s regulations. If not accredited, you may not be allowed to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam. The Licensed Practical Nurse program is generally best for students that are just entering the realm of healthcare in the field of nursing.

Academically, there are two different paths that you may choose to take to become a LPN; the associate degree program or the diploma option. The primary difference is the time involved and the amount of credit hours in the program.

The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program, also referred to as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Nursing or an Associate of Science in Nursing degree (ASN) usually last two years. An ADN training program will prepare the nursing student for patient treatment and other nursing duties and responsibilities within the healthcare field. The two-year degree will lay the foundation work to expand on academically when ready to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. Earning your ADN degree allows you to go directly into the workforce as a Licensed Personal Nurse upon passing the NCLEX-PN.

The other plan of action would be to enroll in a diploma course to become a LPN offering a more specialized program in nursing. This path can usually be accomplished within a twelve-month period. Upon passing the NCLEX-PN, you will be ready to go to work.

Your choice of programs is your decision, of course. You should keep in mind that the healthcare industry does not have any requirements one way or the other when it comes to being qualified to be a LPN, however, the associate degree may afford you more opportunities down the road.

Coursework within the Licensed Practical Nurse program involves studies in basic nursing, pharmacology, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics and first aid. Also, clinical experience is required, however, the student is not paid for their work. This type of internship provides you with valuable work experience in a clinical or hospital setting.

After graduation from an accredited Licensed Practical Nursing program, you will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). You will also be expected to continue your education.

While working as a LPN, you will have the opportunity to further your career. Your experience will help you to move on to the next level of accomplishment. In many cases, your employer, while working for them as a LPN, will provide the needed funds to help you financially continue your education to become a RN. A career in nursing with an online bachelor’s or master’s degree will be most beneficial.

If you wish to begin a nursing career, feel free to check out our Top Online Nursing Degree Programs.