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What Training Is Needed to Be a LVN?

A licensed vocational nurse (LVN), sometimes called a licensed practical nurse (LPN), works with doctors and registered nurses to provide basic care to patients. Read on to learn more about the training and licensing requirements you will need to become an LVN.

Required Education and Training

A high school diploma or passing score on the General Educational Development (GED) examination may be required to begin an LVN training program. These training programs, which are available as a certificate or diploma, can be found at many community colleges and vocational schools. Some programs may also require you to be certified in life-saving techniques before you can apply. Licensed vocational nurse training programs take about one year to complete and follow a curriculum set by the state's board of nursing. Through courses and practical experience requirements, you will receive hands-on training and work with real patients to administer medication, measure a patient's vital signs, or collect blood and urine samples for analysis.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Median Pay (2018)$46,240
Job Outlook (2016-2026)12% job growth (faster than average)
Work EnvironmentMay stand for long periods; may lift or move patients; may work long hours and over 40 hours a week, including weekend, overnight, and holiday hours
Similar OccupationsRegistered Nurses, Occupational Therapy Assistants, Psychiatric Technicians, Surgical Technologists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certification Requirements

After successfully completing an LVN training program, you are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN), designed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Passing this exam is required to gain LVN certification in all states. The computer-based exam will test your professional competence and abilities in several areas, including the following:

  • Providing a care environment that is safe and effective
  • Promoting and maintaining patient health
  • Ensuring patients' physiological and psychosocial integrity

You may be presented with questions testing your abilities in several formats, including multiple choice, diagrams, fill-in-the-blank, and audio samples (www.ncsbn.org).

Other Skills

You will work with patients who may be anxious, so you may wish to cultivate a sympathetic, caring attitude. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), an LVN also needs to have an even temperament so that he or she can stay calm in stressful situations. In addition, you must be observant and have strong interpersonal and decision-making skills in order to effectively work within a patient care team.