The numerous nursing programs train the nurses to become licensed practical nurses or LPNs, or licensed vocational nurses or LVNs. These licensed practical nurses work under registered nurses who have additional training and education. What is needed to become an LPN? Well, to become one, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination Practical Nurses or NCLEX-PN exam, which is required by all states and is overseen by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The NCLEX-PN is a four-part exam, which covers physiological/psychosocial integrity, health promotion and maintenance, and safe/effective care environment. The pass rate of the NCLEX-PN in 2008 was around 77%.
In addition to the NCLEX-PN exam, those who seek further certification can take the National Nurses Aide Assessment Program and Medication Aide Certification Examination. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers both of these. The next step, after one passes the NCLEX-PN, is becoming a registered nurse. There are many different types of registered nurses; you may apply to be registered as a long-term nurse who helps those with chronic health disabilities, as medical-surgical nurse who assists in operations, as psychiatric nurse who helps those with mental disorders, or as infusion nurse who takes fluids from patients such as blood. To become a registered nurse one must obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing.
The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools makes a provision for those who are registered nurses in other countries to practice in the United States. The CGFNS Certification program is required by most states in order to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exams.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing offers the Clinical Nurse Leader certification for those who wish to receive additional credentials of master’s and post-secondary CNL programs. Those who wish to receive this particular certification must already be registered nurses. Also, the Commission on Nurse Certification or CNC offers certification to graduates of the CNL programs. While many programs can be completed entirely online, some may require both online and class room training. There are currently over 150 accredited universities that offer master’s degree programs for RN.
With the population becoming older the nursing job opportunities are expected to rise fairly quickly within the next decade. Many of those who need healthcare are staying in their homes and more jobs are being created for those who seek home healthcare positions rather than in hospitals. People are now living longer because of the advancements in medical technologies and medicines; with there being a greater number of older people, there will also be greater demand for LPNs.
Nurses may choose to work in a variety of settings such as elderly nursing homes, children’s hospitals, home healthcare, or clinics. Nurses generally enjoy taking care of others but choose to work in an environment they feel most comfortable in. Many can’t handle the frantic pace of the emergency rooms, so they choose to work in more peaceful settings, such as nursing homes.
Many nurses may choose to become doctors further down in their careers. Many facilities are looking to nurses with more than just the basic education, who can take on many more responsibilities in their nursing profession. The more training and education they have, the more valuable they become to the hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes.
There are currently around 750,000 practical and licensed vocational nurses and that number is expected to grow to over 850,000 within the next decade. With patients needing care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, schedules for licensed nurses can be any number of hours of the day. Those who have worked in a particular setting for a long time, could build seniority and could earn more favorable hours and pay. Wages can range from $32,000-$50,000 per year. Those who do become registered nurses typically earn between $50,000-$82,000 per year.