LPN Training and Education

Training to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

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Nursing Degree

Nursing Degree—SLU Madrid Campus (Flickr.com)

The licensed practical nurse (or LPN) works in the world of healthcare, and they carry a heavy responsibility in providing basic patient care. They work under the supervision of physicians and registered nurses to provide services in a wide range of healthcare settings including public and private hospitals, doctor’s offices, small clinics, and community care facilities.

In Texas and California LPNs are known as LVNs (licensed vocational nurses). Both names refer to the same profession and the training we will detail below applies equally regardless of title.

The Skinny on LPN Training

Licensed practical nurses are required to complete an accredited program at a technical or community college. The programs typically take nine months to one year of study to complete and will include a clinical internship. These training programs are occasionally also offered in high schools or hospitals.

Upon completion of a training program, aspiring licensed practical nurses will be required to take a licensing exam. Once they have passed this NCLEX-PN exam (offered by the National Council State Boards of Nursing), students will be eligible to begin practicing as full-fledged LPNs.

Starting Early

Applicants to a licensed practical nurse training program must have completed high school or have passed the GED. If you are anticipating a career in nursing, it’s a good idea to have a solid foundation in mathematics and English, as well as a strong grasp of biology and anatomy. Certain programs will expect applicants to pass basic aptitude tests to gauge their understanding of these subjects. Select schools will also require applicants to be certified in CPR or as a nursing assistant (CNA), and many will have certain study prerequisites like college-level English or AP courses in biology.

LPN Certificate Program

As mentioned earlier, LPN certificate programs are typically offered at technical or community colleges, though they can also be found in some four year universities as well as select high schools and hospitals. These programs will provide aspiring LPNs with the training needed for the wide range of nursing tasks that they may be required to perform. They will learn through both traditional classroom instruction and hands-on clinical instruction and practice.

Study topics will cover areas of science, health and pharmacology as well as math concepts for medical professionals. These areas may include courses like:

– Biology

– Anatomy

– Nutrition

– Physiology

– Pharmacology

– Phlebotomy

– Microbiology

– Psychology

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The course will also provide the foundational training needed by aspiring nurses, giving them the education needed to practice in a wide variety of settings. Some common foundational topics may include:

– Fundamental Nursing Practices

– Legal and Ethical Nursing Issues

– Medical Surgical Nursing

– Human Nutrition

– Geriatric Nursing

– Special Needs Individuals

– Medical Ethics

See also about training and education of other kinds of nurses:

Registered Nurse     Nurse Practitioner


During the course of an accredited LPN educational program, students will be required to participate in a clinical internship. This takes the academic knowledge that students have gained and puts it to work in a practical, hands-on environment. Aspiring LPNs will begin to work with actual patients in various medical facilities under the supervision of practicing doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. They may spend time in a number of different facilities to broaden their range of experience. They may begin in traditional hospitals settings, but might also intern at rehabilitation centers, geriatric facilities or community nursing facilities. This experience will help them to make the transition from student to full-fledged nurse.


As noted earlier, to become a licensed practical nurse, a student will be required to pass the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses). Since this exam is administered and licensure granted on a state level, specific requirements do vary from one state to the next. However, all states do require a certain amount of ongoing education for LPNs to maintain their license.

Continuing Education

After graduating and earning their LPN credentials, many licensed practical nurses do choose to pursue an advanced degree. The educational requirements described are the minimum for entry level employment, thus, they don’t guarantee much advancement or a high salary. For this reason, many will pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing program. Most licensed practical nurses ultimately choose to become registered nurses through LPN to RN educational programs. As this is the most common route, we will cover it briefly.


The path to becoming a registered nurse is quite a bit more arduous than that of the LPN. Fortunately, licensed LPNs can enter a LPN to RN program which bridges the educational gap and provides LPNs with the training necessary to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.

An LPN to RN program will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of nursing theory, practice and science, including patient care methods and nursing pharmacology. This type of program will build upon the knowledge already gained by the LPN, and provide far more advanced training into the various practices of nursing. Common courses may include:

– Professional Nursing

– Pathophysiology

– Microbiology

– Mental Health Nursing

– Pharmacology for Nurses

– Maternal Child Nursing

– Community Based Nursing

After completing an accredited LPN to RN program, aspiring nurses will need to sit for the more advanced NCLEX-RN exam. Passing his national licensing exam grants graduates the eligibility to begin professional practice as registered nurses.

From this point, a nurse may choose to pursue her education even further. Some choose to enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing degree program to become nurse practitioners or advanced practice nurses.

Related Resources:

All Allied Health Schools LPN

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4 Responses to LPN Training and Education

  1. Denie on December 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    My wife (RN) faced the same problem when I got my anengsmsit to Japan. She had two options enlist (a little more difficult as an RN looking for a commissioned spot as opposed to an LPN looking for an NCO spot), or go Civil Service.We got lucky, a civil service slot opened up in her area of specialty after we got there. She was positioned to jump into this position since she was already volunteering in the ward. Even if you don’t get a job, I recommend keeping current by volunteer work.Also, many countries have reciprocity with US states on nursing licenses. Technically speaking, my wife is qualified to work as a nurse in Japan. However, since she speaks no Japanese, it certainly wasn’t practical. But if you are fluent in the language of the country to which you will be assigned, this might be an option as is the possibility of taking their board exams.


  2. Trisha @lpn-to-rnprograms.com on June 18, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    The roles and functions of an LPN are really different compared to that of an RN. LPNs are expected to provide basic care while RNs are required to manage complex situations and render intricate nursing care. With this, LPNs should enroll in bridge programs if they decide to become an RN in order to fill in the gap. Through this, they will be equipped with enough knowledge and skills and be eligible to take NCLEX-RN.


    • Bob Rapp on June 18, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Hi Trisha,

      Thank you very much for the visit and for the feedback. And best of luck with your Nursing Career Advice site.


      • Trisha @lpn-to-rnprograms.com on June 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        Thank you Bob Rapp. Like what you do, I am hoping that I will be able to help future RNs with their career as well.