Practical Nursing School: Becoming An LPN

When you graduate from a practical nursing program, you receive a license. Appropriately, from that point on, you are known as a Licensed Practical Nurse. (Some states call you a Licensed Vocational Nurse; they are one in the same thing.) The LPN emerges from either an educational institution's practical nursing school or a medical establishment's nursing program ready to step into an active and vital role in a hospital or other major medical center. 

A licensed practical nurse works under the direction of an RN (registered nurse) who generally directs several or even dozens of LPNs in her area of the hospital. Each RN has their own 'managerial style' within the strictures put in place by the institution, but by and large you can assume that the RN is the go-to person for any LPN's questions or problems. RNs have graduated from a higher level or nursing school than a licensed practical nurse, and their greater understanding and ability gives them an authority ranking in the hospital's power structure. Very rarely will an LPN go to a floor supervisor or director unless there's a problem with the RN him- or her-self.

An LPN's job is to take care of the patients. That seems fairly straightforward, but stop to consider for a moment just how many different kinds of patients you might have, even within a single ward. The injury unit might have someone who cannot walk and needs assistance to use the bathroom right next door to someone with a shattered jaw that can't talk or eat -- and on the other side, someone who is struggling to learn how to use their new prosthetic arm. An LPN has to be able to deal with a wide variety of patients comfortably and with authority.

Furthermore, an LPN must be able to teach all of these individuals how to manage their own lives. With hospitals as overcrowded as they are, it's becoming policy to move people out as quickly as possible in order to make room -- which means letting the patient take care of themselves for the last, mostly-stable part of their recovery. This means LPNs able to teach disease prevention, injury treatment, safety practices, and even occasionally anatomy or social coping skills to their patients. (It's amazing how many people don't know the value -- or techniques! -- of basic hygiene.)

Practical nursing school is built around the idea of learning these nursing basics line upon line. They generally start with an Anatomy and Physiology class alongside a Nursing Fundamentals class, and the two interact to begin building a functional skillset into each LPN who takes them. From there, they will take classes in a huge variety of subjects including Surgical nursing, Pharmacology, Obstetrics/Maternity, Pediatrics, and even Psychiatry. Upon completing the classes, the nursing school will administer the NCLEX-PN -- the "LPN test" -- and graduating will put the students in an excellent place to being a long and healthy (no pun intended) career in nursing!

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