How to Enroll In the Right Licensed Practical or Vocational Nursing Training Program near Birmingham Alabama
Once you have chosen a fulfilling vocation in the field of nursing, it's important that you select a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) school near Birmingham AL that will furnish the appropriate training. If you live in Texas or California, then you will be looking for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) school instead. There is no difference, aside from the names, between an LPN and an LVN. They both carry out the same job functions and work in health care facilities under the guidance of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. But their responsibilities do vary depending on the state they practice in, which we will cover in the following section. When initiating their search for schools, many prospective nursing students start with those that are the closest to their residences or that are the least costly. Although cost and location are important factors, 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 extremely important too. There are additional questions that you should ask potential schools before enrolling in a LPN or LVN course that we will address later in this article. But to start with, let's take a look at the function of an LPN and what is involved in the training and licensing process.
What is an LPN or LVN?
Licensed Practical Nurses have many different tasks that they perform in the Birmingham AL health care facilities where they practice. As their titles imply, they are required to be licensed in all states, including Alabama. Although they may be responsible for monitoring Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), they themselves typically work under the supervision of either an RN or a doctor. The medical care facilities where they work are numerous and assorted, for instance hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and long-term care facilities. Virtually any place that you can find patients requiring medical treatment is their domain. Every state not only oversees their licensing, but also what duties an LPN can and can't perform. So depending on the state, their routine job activities might include:
- Checking vital signs
- Giving medications
- Starting IV drips
- Monitoring patients
- Taking blood or urine samples
- Taking care of patient records
- Assisting doctors or RNs with procedures
Along with their work functions being mandated by each state, the health facilities or other Birmingham AL healthcare providers where LPNs work can additionally limit their job duties within those parameters. Also, they can practice in numerous specialties of nursing, which include long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.
LPN and LVN Certificates and DegreesThere are generally two scholastic credentials offered that provide training to become an LPN near Birmingham AL. The one that can be completed in the shortest period of time, commonly about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The second option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These LPN programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to be state approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the core curriculum 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 becoming a more preferred way to get instruction and attain a nursing certificate or degree in Birmingham AL. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend college for many students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. Therefore if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online LPN school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask LPN and LVN ProgramsOnce you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, and if you will attend classes on campus or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are a large number of 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 to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the expense 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 before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you receive a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available for non-accredited schools near Birmingham AL.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for LPNs are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the LPN schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some nearby Birmingham AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the LPN programs you are looking at 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 good reputation within the Birmingham AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with nearby Birmingham AL community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Birmingham Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse Program
Choosing the right Licensed Practical Nurse school is probably the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you need to think about when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is important that you pick an LPN college and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By using 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 ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become an LPN or LVN in Birmingham AL.