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How to Choose the Best Licensed Practical or Vocational Nursing College near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama LPN with senior female patientOnce you have chosen a rewarding vocation in the field of nursing, it's essential that you choose a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) college near Decatur AL that will deliver the appropriate 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, aside from the names, between an LPN and an LVN. They both undertake the same job functions and work in medical facilities under the guidance of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. However their functions do fluctuate depending on the state they practice in, which we will cover in the following segment. When beginning their search for schools, many prospective nursing students start with the ones that are the nearest to their residences or that are the least costly. While cost and location are relevant factors, they are not the only criteria that you should base your decision 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 various other questions that you should ask potential schools before enrolling in a LPN or LVN training program that we will talk about later in this article. But to start with, let's take a look at the job of an LPN and what is involved in the education and licensing process.

What does an LPN or LVN Do?

Decatur Alabama LPN meeting man on crutches at door

Licensed Practical Nurses have many tasks that they carry out in the Decatur AL health facilities where they practice. As their titles indicate, they are mandated to be licensed in all states, including Alabama. While they may be accountable for monitoring Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), they themselves usually work under the guidance of either an RN or a doctor. The health care facilities where they work are numerous and assorted, for example hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and long-term care facilities. Virtually any place that you can find patients in need of medical attention is their dominion. Every state not only regulates their licensing, but also what functions an LPN can and can't perform. So based on the state, their routine job activities may include:

    • Checking vital signs
    • Providing medications
    • Initiating IV drips
    • Observing patients
    • Taking blood or urine samples
    • Managing patient records
    • Assisting physicians or Registered nurses with procedures

In addition to their job duties being governed by each state, the medical facilities or other Decatur AL healthcare providers where LPNs work can additionally limit their job duties within those parameters. In addition, they can practice in numerous specialties of nursing, such as long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.

LPN and LVN Training

There are essentially two scholastic credentials offered that provide education to become an LPN near Decatur AL. The one that may be concluded in the shortest period of time, typically about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The second alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These LPN programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and usually require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type 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 course of study properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

LPN and LVN Schools Online

Decatur Alabama LVN with elderly male nursing home patientAttending LPN schools online is becoming a more preferred way to get instruction and earn a nursing certificate or degree in Decatur AL. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend college for many students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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 household commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online LPN program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask LPN and LVN Schools

Once you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, and if you will attend classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges near Decatur AL as well as within Alabama and throughout the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.
 
  • 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. Aside from helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools near Decatur AL.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for LPNs vary 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. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the LPN schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some local Decatur 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 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Decatur AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with local Decatur AL community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About Decatur LPN or LVN Courses

Choose the Right Decatur Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse Program

Choosing the ideal Licensed Practical Nurse school is probably the most critical first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are various variables that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this article, it is important that you choose an LPN school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create 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 desire to succeed, you can become a Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse in Decatur AL.



 

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