Now that you’ve decided that becoming an LPN is the path for you, you will have to choose among the many LPN schools that are available. This is a choice that you definitely do not want to make lightly as your choice in school can inform the rest of your career. Below are some of the main things that you have to watch out for when deciding on an LPN school.
The single most important thing that you need to find out when looking at LPN schools is whether or not the school in question is properly accredited. In order to get your license and become an LPN you need to attend a program that is accredited and recognized by the appropriate bodies. Usually this is the State Board of Nursing for the state in which you wish to practice as an LPN. Remember that different states have different rules when it comes to deciding which LPN schools will be accredited and which will not, so it is very important that you find out what the exact accreditation LPN requirements are in your state. By going to your state’s Board of Nursing website you should be able to find a list of accredited schools in your area. There are also many other online resources. If you prefer to phone you will be able to find the number for your state board of nursing in any directory. When choosing an LPN school it is always best to start your search at your States Board of Nursing because that means that you will not waste your time with schools that are not in fact accredited.
Good LPN schools will prepare you adequately for:
- The NCLEX-PN exam
- Your actual career as an LPN
It is very important that you have a close look into the ability of each of the schools you are considering to prepare you adequately for what lies ahead. There are a few ways in which you can check up on this. Firstly you can look into what proportion of students who attended the particular LPN school you are looking at actually passed the NCLEX-PN examination successfully. Following that you need to start speaking with LPNs that you know who are working and try to find out how many LPNs from which schools are actually currently employed. Reading online reviews may also be quite helpful in this regard as people are often more than willing to share their views about schools online. However if you take this route for trying to find out about these schools, you need to remember to read a lot of reviews so that you get a good overall picture of the school. Don’t stop at the first good review you find and go to that school based on what you read. Make sure the coursework of the school matches up with what will be asked in the exam.
There are a number of different areas that you can specialize in as an LPN:
- Nurse practitioners
- Clinical nurse specialists
- Nurse anesthetists
- Nurse educators
When you are looking at LPN schools you should first think about what kind of specialization you may want to do at a later date. It is not compulsory that you know what you want to specialize in ahead of time. You may need some time to choose. However if you already have a vague idea of where you want your career in nursing to take you, you should definitely focus on schools that offer specialization in the topics that you are interested in, or that at the very least have a slightly stronger focus. However when you’re learning to be an LPN at an LPN school you may not have a very clear idea in your mind about what kind of specialization you will want to do. You may need some time to try everything out and see where you best fit in. Specialization can always be done after school, so don’t worry too much about this at the beginning.
Coursework: Theoretical And Practical
The best LPN schools offer coursework in the following areas:
- Fundamentals of Nursing
- Psychiatric Nursing
- Contemporary Health Issues Vocational Adjustment
- Emergency Medical Technology
- First aid
- Physical education
- Foods and nutrition
- Diet Therapy
- Medical-Surgical Nursing
- Maternal Child Health
- Child growth and development
These will mostly be included in the theory side of your course. However you need to remember that in addition to the theoretical side you will also have to complete clinical training in a practical environment. Without this training you will not be able to become a licensed LPN, so this is why you must be careful to choose an LPN school that offers both clinical and theoretical training in order to guarantee your success. There are several schools out there that claim to offer comprehensive programs that cover all of the bases but it is up to you to determine whether or not this is in fact true. You will need to look closely at the coursework offerings from each of the schools you are considering in order to make a good decision in this regard.
The best LPN schools are also those schools that are able to help you with job placement once you have completed your course. If you find a school that is able to provide you with this service, that may be the best LPN school for you to choose. However, like with all of the other criteria that we have looked at so far, it is important that you do not base your entire decision on this one factor. You need to think carefully about a variety of different components before plunging in headfirst. That said it can be very helpful to attend a school that claims to offer job placement. You should, however, check from as many sources as possible what their success rate is in this regard because they may offer a job search service without guarantee of actual placement. Don’t put too much stock in claims like these and remember that there is a nursing shortage and that your skills are in great demand. Consequently you should have a little bit of faith in your ability to find a job for yourself when the time comes.
Quality Of Tuition
The quality of the tuition is related to the reputations of the various schools that you are considering and the information can be found in the same way. There are a number of factors that come into play here:
- The experience and qualifications of the teachers at the school
- The quality of the course work offered by the school
- The clinical facilities that you will have access to when completing the clinical side of your training
These are all very important considerations to take into account when looking at LPN schools. You want to get the best tuition possible out of your education. There are a number of reasons for this. Of course it will help you pass the exam with flying colors, which is important. But you mustn’t forget that the exam is not everything. Once you have graduated from an LPN school you will have to actually start working as an LPN, and the better the tuition at the school that you attended is, the better your chances of being a successful LPN will be. So, in summary, it is very important to evaluate these schools based on the quality of the tuition that you will receive form them.
Something that is quite a big consideration for a lot of people is the flexibility of the schedule offered by the various LPN schools. This will not be an important factor for everyone, but for those people who need to work while they study or who have young children that need a lot of care, you may want to consider looking into LPN programs that have schedules that are flexible enough to fit in with your daily routine. There are some schools that offer evening classes, for example. If you are currently working as a CNA, there are often LPN courses offered by your hospital or healthcare facility that are designed to fit in with your work schedule. If you are in this position, then you will have to consider the flexibility of the schedule as a high priority and choose a school based on that to a large degree. In some cases there are also a few work and learn programs out there so you may indeed be able to quit your current job in order to become an LPN. This can be a very important consideration when trying to choose an LPN school.
Tuition Fees And Financial Aid
For a lot of people, the cost of the schools in question play a very big part in their decision. If you are in this position then you may need to base your decision on whether or not the school is cheap. However you shouldn’t let this hold you back too much because there are a number of ways for you to get financial aid to study at an LPN school:
- Some LPN schools offer financial aid options to students in order to encourage more of them to attend their institutions. If you have a particular school in mind, inquire with them.
- The government also offers a variety of financial aid options. Apply at FAFSA.
- There are a number of private individuals and institutions offering scholarships and grants for people to study.
- Your employer may be willing to help you cover the costs if you work for him or her for a set amount of time once you have graduated as an LPN.
So, although financial concerns are definitely important, try not to base your entire decision of a school on this one aspect alone as there are many other things to consider as well.
The location of the school could also potentially play a role in whether or not you attend it. Preferably, you want to attend a school that is close to where you are situated. This is because you will save time that would otherwise have been spent on traveling every day and you will consequently be able to fit more things into your schedule. You could also potentially save some money if the school is close by, as you will not have to pay so much for transport costs. If there are last minute changes to the schedule and a class is rescheduled to start earlier than it normally would, you will not have to worry about missing it as you live too far away.
If there are no schools with good reputations near to where you live, you may want to consider relocating. Rent an apartment or find student housing in an area where there is a good LPN school. This may turn out to be worth it in the long run. Just be careful; if you move and study out of state you may not be able to practice in your home state as an LPN unless you meet certain requirements. Different states have different rules in this regard so be aware of all of the facts before deciding to do something as drastic as move.
Now that you have all of the LPN school facts you should be well equipped to choose the best option from among the many LPN schools that are available. Remember to put the right amount of thought into this. You cannot afford to make a fundamental mistake and choose a school that will interfere with your career. Make sure that you consider all of the above-mentioned criteria together, as they all play a big part in choosing the best schools. Some points are more important than others, but they all need to be very carefully considered before you reach your final decision.