Working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is an excellent way to begin your career in the fast-growing healthcare industry.
An entry-level nurse’s aid job can provide you with a chance to show your skills and prepare you for even more responsibility down the road as you build your resume.
Once you are ready to take the next step in the field and move to a job that requires more training and knowledge than that of a CNA, and offers the opportunity for higher compensation as a result, you may want to consider following the path of others who have made the move from CNA to LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse).
Duties of an LPN
Becoming an LPN (or Licensed Vocational Nurse, as they are called in California and Texas) involves taking on new assignments such as administering IVs, gathering samples, dispensing medication, helping teach CNAs, and providing assistance in operating rooms.
Because of the higher level of training required by these duties, a more intense educational workload is assigned to the typical LPN candidate.
Training as an LPN
A number of bridge training programs exist for CNAs looking to make the move from nurse’s aid to LPN.
These courses of study will generally be less lengthy than the typical LPN training program as credit is given for the education and work experience you have already accrued in the course of becoming and working as a CNA.
Check with your state nursing board for specifics, but generally speaking, you will have to have worked as a CNA for a certain amount of time, with special clinical requirements in various areas of specialization also required in some states.
LPN coursework consists of both classroom instruction and supervised hands-on clinical learning sessions.
The classroom instruction portion of the training may be taken in an online format if desired.
Such programs are ideal for busy professionals or caregivers making the move from CNA to LPN, as it gives them the ability to pursue such a course while still going about their regular day-to-day activities.
Typically LPN training courses for students new to the nursing field will take approximately 2 years to complete, although 1 year courses are available.
Bridge programs for those already working as CNAs will generally be shorter in length due to credit given for your past work and educational experience, as mentioned above.
Testing to work as an LPN
Once you have completed the additional training necessary to work as an LPN in your state, you must take and pass the NCLEX-PN test before you are officially ready to work as an LPN in a hospital or other medical facility.
The NCLEX-PN is administered and developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. It is computer-based and covers the major areas a student will have studied throughout the course of their training as an LPN.
Working as an LPN
While the majority of LPNs are generalists, working in any area of healthcare, some work in specialized situations such as in nursing homes, home healthcare or doctors’ offices.
The average salary for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses for 2010 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics was $40,380 per year, or $19.42 per hour.