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How to Choose the Right Licensed Practical or Vocational Nursing Course near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa Alabama LPN with older female patientOnce you have chosen a fulfilling career in the field of nursing, it's important that you find a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) school near Tuscaloosa AL that will furnish the appropriate instruction. If you reside 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 undertake the same job functions and work in health care facilities under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. But their duties do differ depending on the state they practice in, which we will look at in the following section. When initiating their search for schools, many prospective nursing students begin with those that are the nearest to their homes or that are the least costly. Although cost and location are relevant considerations, they are not the only criteria that you should base your decision on. Other variables, for example 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 prospective schools before enrolling in a LPN or LVN program that we will cover later in this article. But to start with, let's take a look at the role of an LPN and what is involved in the training and licensing process.

What is an LPN or LVN?

Tuscaloosa Alabama LVN meeting man on crutches at door

Licensed Practical Nurses have many different duties that they accomplish in the Tuscaloosa AL healthcare facilities where they are employed. 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 guidance of either an RN or a doctor. The healthcare facilities where they work are numerous and assorted, for example hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and long-term care facilities. Anyplace that you can find patients in need of medical attention is their domain. Each state not only controls their licensing, but also what duties an LPN can and can't perform. So based on the state, their day-to-day job functions can include:

    • Measuring vital signs
    • Giving medicines
    • Initiating IV drips
    • Overseeing patients
    • Collecting blood or urine samples
    • Maintaining patient records
    • Supporting doctors or RNs with procedures

In addition to their occupational functions being regulated by each state, the health facilities or other Tuscaloosa AL healthcare providers where LPNs work can further limit their job roles within those parameters. Additionally, they can practice in various specialties of nursing, for example long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.

LPN Courses

There are principally two academic credentials offered that provide training to become an LPN near Tuscaloosa AL. The one that may be finished in the shortest period of time, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The next option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These LPN programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from supplying 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 seek, 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 properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

Online LPN and LVN Programs

Tuscaloosa Alabama LPN with elderly male nursing home residentEnrolling in LPN programs online is becoming a more preferred way to obtain training and acquire a nursing certificate or degree in Tuscaloosa AL. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend college for many students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by U.S. Department of Education recognized organizations. Therefore if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online LPN school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.

What to Ask LPN and LVN Schools

Now that you have decided on obtaining your LPN certificate, as well as if you will attend classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges near Tuscaloosa 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 manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, 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 as well as the school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools near Tuscaloosa AL.
  • 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 accredited school. Certain 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 excellent education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the LPN schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some nearby Tuscaloosa 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased 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 Tuscaloosa AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with local Tuscaloosa AL community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Learn More About Tuscaloosa LPN or LVN Nursing Classes

Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse Training

Selecting the ideal Licensed Practical Nurse school is probably the most important first step to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of variables that you need to think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables 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 pick an LPN school and a certificate or degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become an LPN or LVN in Tuscaloosa AL.



 

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