How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Licensed Practical Nurse? What Licensed Practical Nurse do? Degrees for Licensed Practical Nurse, Steps to become Licensed Practical Nurse and much more.

A Licensed Practical Nurse is a vital member of high-performance healthcare professionals providing care in a variety of settings. They typically monitor a patient’s vital statistics, administer basic care and report concerns to registered nurses and physicians. When patients enter a healthcare facility, LPNs assist the registered nurse or other healthcare providers by measuring and recording blood pressure, weight, height, pulse, temperature and rate of respiration of the patient.

What does a Licensed Practical Nurse do ?

These professionals assess patients, monitor vital signs, and assist with personal care and procedures such as catheterization and wound care.

  • Monitoring basic patient health such as vital signs and overall condition

  • Changing dressings or inserting catheters

  • Taking patient histories and maintaining documentation

  • Assisting with tests or procedures

  • Providing personal care, such as helping with bathing and toileting

  • Consulting with RNs on care plans

Steps for becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse


Complete An Approved Education Program

You can complete an approved program to become a licensed practical nurse in two ways, either by earning a diploma or certificate or by earning an associate degree.  A diploma or certificate is often the fastest route into the workforce, but credits from these programs cannot be used toward further education. Students aspiring to become registered nurses may find an associate degree offers the best option for future career goals.


Qualify The NCLEX-PN

After completion of an approved Licensed Practical Nurse program students have to appear and qualify the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) developed and administered by National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Those who do not pass must wait 45-90 days before retaking the test.


Join The Workforce

After completing the program and earning a license, a student can join workforce immediately. Demand for Practical Nursing is continuously growing and the students will have plenty of opportunities to join a workplace of his/her preference.


Get Additional Certification

A student can choose to get an additional certificate to stand out from the crowd and increase his marketability. There are numerous certificates available for specialized clinical roles.


Pursue Additional Training

After being in their role for a while, LPNs may decide to engage in further education, such as a nursing degree at the associate or bachelor’s degree level. Both options generally provide wider employment opportunities and increased earning potential. Similar to the LPN career path, aspiring RNs will need to meet state requirements and pass a standardized national exam before being fully licensed.

Licensed Practical Nurse Salaries

Licensed Practical Nurse

Licensed Practical Nurse Degree Levels


The LPN diploma and certificate are both terminal programs, meaning they are not intended to transition students to a higher level of education. Coursework covers the essentials of practical nursing, including anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, biology, and chemistry. Students will learn about these topics both in the classroom and through clinical instruction.

Practical Nursing
  • Understanding of medical ethics

  • Development of communication skills

  • Knowledge of clinical care

  • Focus on pathophysiology

  • Diagnostic testing

  • Treatment process for disease and injuries in adults and children
Anatomy and Physiology
  • Human body’s structure and function

  • Keen knowledge of human systems

  • Ability to apply this knowledge to patients

  • Therapies used in the treatment of mental disorders

  • Assess client for factors that affect stress level

  • Assess the client for needs related to culture

Advanced Practical Nursing
  • Advanced understanding of clinical care

  • Development of physical stamina

  • Learning how to offer empathetic care

  • Instruction in how to care for patients

  • Receiving treatment via intravenous methods

  • Arterial puncture and blood withdrawal equipment


Associate’s Degrees are offered at community colleges and often provide graduates greater career flexibility. An associate degree can be used as the foundation for a bachelor’s degree, whereas credits earned in a diploma or certificate program typically cannot be transferred to an advanced degree. In addition to covering all foundational nursing coursework, associate degrees include a more in-depth study of relevant topics and offer additional classes as electives.

Medical/Surgical Nursing
  • Understanding of anatomy and physiology

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving

  • Hands-on clinical experience

  • Concepts of practical nursing and clinical care

  • Use therapeutic nursing

  • Demonstrate safety and effectiveness in performance

Mental Health Concepts
  • Signs of common mental disorders

  • Legal and ethical guidelines

  • Prioritize patient needs

  • Use anatomical terminology

  • Identify causes and effects of homeostatic imbalances

  • Apply appropriate safety and ethical standards

Intravenous Therapy
  • Mastery of administration of IV medication

  • Ability to withdrawal blood

  • Development of empathy for patients

  • Instruction in clinical skills

  • Integrate theoretical and scientific concepts

  • Engage in lifelong learning