How Long Does It Take to Earn My Practical Nursing Certificate?

How Long Does It Take to Earn My Practical Nursing Certificate?

Mar 14, 2015 | 12:00 pm

If you have a desire to work in practical nursing (also called LPN or Licensed Practical Nursing), you probably discovered that earning a certificate from an accredited program is not only required for licensure, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, but it’s required to find a job in the field. So how long does it take to earn a practical nursing certificate? Let’s find out…

Practical Nursing Education

Choosing to become a Licensed Practical Nurse is one of the quickest routes to a nursing career. Not only does it require less time in an educational program, but upon completion, licensure involves sitting for one exam—the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN exam.

Step One – What’s Needed to Enter the Program?

Before entering a practical nursing program, students must have a high school diploma or GED. At that point, they can find state-approved practical nursing certificate programs at vocational schools, community colleges and some hospitals. Most schools require you to provide proof of immunizations, participate in criminal background checks and pass an entrance exam.

Step Two – Practical Nursing Certificate Program

A certificate program prepares students with the training and skills needed to enter the healthcare field as a LPN, and it often takes less than one year to complete. Berkeley College says that students should come out of a practical nursing certificate program with a strong foundation in clinical nursing theory and feel confident taking part in direct patient care.

Students will learn the following skills during the one-year program, which includes supervised clinical training:

•Checking vital signs, temperature and blood pressure
•Caring for patients’ basic needs, including bathing and dressing
•Administering some medications
•Bandaging wounds
•Starting and checking IVs

Upon passing the practical nursing certificate program, students must go on to become licensed in their state before practicing.

Step Three – Licensure and Certification

Practical Nursing graduates can sit for the NCLEX-PN, which is required to earn the initials LPN. This is an exam you can take in one day, though it will require a scheduled test date and a review of your nursing materials. Some LPNs will continue their education to earn certification in a specialized area, such as gerontology or IV therapy. While this last step is optional, it can help advance your career or bring more notice to your skillset, letting you stand out from the crowd of LPN applicants.

Basically, it takes about one year after high school graduation to complete the practical nursing certificate program and gain licensure – after that, you’re fast on your way to a rewarding career!