California, CA - LPN Nurse Program Information
Licensed Practical Nurses are in high demand in California. Under the supervision of Registered Nurses and physicians, their tasks may vary but usually include essential bedside care such as monitoring vital signs, giving injections and administering other prescribed medicines, dressing wounds and so on. They are also responsible for other types of bedside care such as feeding, bathing, collecting samples and maintaining medical equipment.
Becoming an LPN is perhaps the fastest way to become a nurse in California. They typically work in hospitals and other health care settings such as nursing homes, clinics and even private homes, where the average salary is well above the national median at $44,000 per year (according to BLS.gov). In addition, benefits such as health care and 401ks can amount to close to $20,000 per year. As reported by the US Department of Labor, the job outlook is good for LPN’s, with higher than average growth expected, particularly in nursing homes and home care facilities, of which California has plenty.
While Licensed Practical Nurses usually work 40 hours per week, the need for 24 hour attention for patients can mean that many LPNs are in nights, weekends and holidays. While not ideal for everyone, this can be beneficial for those needing flexible schedules due to other commitments such as family, school and so on—especially considering the competitive salaries earned by LPNs. In addition, it opens up part time opportunities for LPNs with other responsibilities such as school and family outside of normal work hours.
The road to licensure as a Practical Nurse in California includes graduating from of a state approved LPN program, which typically takes about a year of full time study and is widely available through universities, colleges, and private institutions. Although entry requirements differ because of acceptance guidelines of various schools, high school graduation or equivalent is necessary because applying to an LPN program almost always requires prerequisites from general studies undergraduate courses. Typically, about ten pre-nursing courses over 30 credit hours are required for application into an LPN program. The courses cover both scientific topics such as human anatomy and microbiology, as well as arts classes such as psychology and interpersonal communication.
Prerequisites must be completed with good enough grades, which can be as low as a C average or a 2.5 GPA. It is important to note that minimum requirements for entry will not always guarantee acceptance—with many applicants for nursing programs in California, a ranking system is established at most schools of nursing that gives preference to those applicants with higher scores in prerequisite courses and pre-admission tests such as the TEAS.
Once accepted into studies, LPN programs take 60 or so credit hours of study to complete, which lasts about one year. In some cases, LPN certification is possible after the first year of a two-year Associate Degree of Nursing program, while other schools offer a stand-alone Licensed Practical Nurse Program. Whether pursuing an ADN or simply an LPN certificate, students must take and pass the National Counsel Licensing Examination-Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN). It is important to note that one must not have a criminal record to become an LPN in California and fingerprinting is also required, at a cost of $31.The California Board of Nursing charges a $75 examination fee and $30 for a temporary license once the NCLEX-PN has been successfully challenged.
The NCLEX-PN is a licensure examination and once a student has passed, they are eligible to begin working as a Licensed Practical Nurse in California. Once employed, an LPN license must be renewed every two years along with proof of 30 hours of continuing education, which carries an $85 fee.
Passing the NCLEX-PN and receiving your license to practice can lead to a rewarding career in itself, but can also be the first step along a path to licensure as a Registered Nurse and a Bachelor of Science, Nursing.