How to Choose the Right Licensed Practical or Vocational Nursing Classes near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have chosen a fulfilling vocation in the field of nursing, it's essential that you locate a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program near Birmingham AL that will provide the proper training. If you live in Texas or California, then you will be searching for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) school instead. There is no distinction, 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 supervision of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. However their functions do differ depending on the state they practice in, which we will talk about in the next segment. When starting their search for schools, many future nursing students begin with those that are the nearest to their houses or that are the least costly. While tuition and location are relevant 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 extremely important also. There are even more 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 look at the job of an LPN and what is involved in the education and licensing process.
What does an LPN or LVN Do?
Licensed Practical Nurses have many different duties that they perform in the Birmingham AL health facilities where they practice. As their titles imply, they are required to be licensed in all states, including Alabama. Even though they may be responsible for supervising 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 find patients in need of medical attention is their domain. Each state not only oversees their licensing, but also what duties an LPN can and can't perform. So depending on the state, their everyday work functions may include:
- Taking vital signs
- Providing medicines
- Initiating IV drips
- Observing patients
- Getting blood or urine samples
- Taking care of patient records
- Supporting physicians or Registered nurses with procedures
Along with their occupational duties being controlled by each state, the healthcare facilities or other Birmingham AL healthcare providers where LPNs work can further limit their job roles within those parameters. Additionally, they can work in various specialties of nursing, for instance long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.
LVN and LPN CoursesThere are principally two scholastic credentials available that provide training to become an LPN near Birmingham AL. The one that can be finished in the shortest time frame, usually about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These LPN programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it should be state approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Online LPN and LVN Schools
Enrolling in LPN programs online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and earn a nursing certificate or degree in Birmingham AL. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical answer to finding the time to attend classes for many students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. So if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online LPN training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask LPN and LVN SchoolsNow that you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, and if you will attend classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges near Birmingham AL as well as within Alabama and throughout the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick 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 agency. In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools near Birmingham AL.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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 accredited 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 attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the LPN schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, 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 Birmingham AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the LPN programs 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Birmingham AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with nearby Birmingham AL community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Best Birmingham Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse Program
Selecting the right Licensed Practical Nurse school is probably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of factors that you should consider when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed in this article, it is important 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 using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become an LPN or LVN in Birmingham AL.