Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse


Don’t be confused between Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN). Both may serve as stepping stones into the nursing profession, but they differ in many ways.  Initially, if you take note of the definitions, LPNs are licensed nurses, while CNAs are only certified nurses. Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse is not an easy task either.

In the LPN or LVN program, students are required to undergo a state-approved twelve-month comprehensive training program that covers subjects in fundamental nursing, nutrition, basic health care and poison control, plus a supervised clinical practice.  The course is usually offered in technical and vocational schools, or in community colleges. When you have successfully completed the training, you are then required to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse, or NCLEX-PN, a computer-based examination developed and given by the National Council of State in order for you to obtain an LPN license and be eligible to practice the profession.

Becoming A Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse

Working under the instruction and guide of the registered nurse and doctors, an Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) works in varied settings – from nursing homes to extended care facilities to private homes, physician’s offices, to hospitals. The specific duties of a licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse include, but not limited to:

  • Take patient’s vital reading, such as blood pressure levels , temperature, respiration levels, and pulse rate
  • Prepare enemas and administer injections
  • Monitoring patient’s catheters
  • Apply and changing wound dressings, treating bedsores, and also giving alcohol rubs including massages
  • Monitor patient development and report any adverse reaction to the doctor
  • Collect samples from patients for testing
  • Perform laboratory tests
  • Feeding the patients and recording their daily food and liquid intake
  • Assist patients in dressing, bathing and also personal hygiene

Where law allows, a licensed practical nurse may even give prescribed medicines or even using intravenous fluids; help care, deliver, and feed babies, and; supervise nurse assistants which including nursing aides.  An experienced LPN may even be credentialed in specialty areas, like gerontology, long-term care, IV therapy, and pharmacology.


Moreover, an LPN in a nursing care facility assists in evaluating the residents’ daily needs, help develop the care plans, and to supervise the work of nurse aides. While the one assigned in a physician’s office and clinic may arrange for appointments, keeping records, and do clerical duties.  Likewise, an LPN or LVN in private homes takes charge in preparing meals for the patient, and teaching family members simple nursing tasks.

If you are interested to pursue the LPN course, you must be able to present the following documents:

  • High School diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate
  • Transcript of Records (TOR)
  • Grade Point Average (GPA). Most, if not all, LPN programs accept an overall GPA of at least 2.0.
  • Character Reference or Letter of Recommendation. Some schools may require at least three references, while others may ask for only one.  Nevertheless, the appropriate persons to ask for references are your teachers and/or your high school principal.
  • Pre-Entrance Examination and Interview. Basically, the written examination covers general subjects in math, grammar and comprehension, and analytic skills. You will also be interviewed by the guidance counselor of the school to evaluate your psychological readiness to enroll in the LPN program.

There you have it. Hope the above requirements doesn’t scare you off from becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse.

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