Medicine is one of the widest career fields. Some careers, such as dentistry, are considered more lucrative than others. However, nursing also plays an integral role in the running of the medical field. Nurses are mainly assistants to medical doctors in any class in which they operate. This implies that everything a nurse does should be under instructions from a doctor. In some instances, a nurse could perform simple duties without instructions from a doctor. Such cases are common with nurses that are well-qualified with adequate work experience.
There are many sub-branches in nursing that you can major in during your studies. Although the basic nursing training could be identical, specializing implies working in a specific environment with specific patients. Some of the most common nursing specializations are mental health care nursing and pediatric nursing. Nursing qualifications vary depending on the technicality of work you will be doing when employed. While some require a bachelor’s degree, you can work as a vocational nurse with various degree certification types. A licensed vocational nurse is involved in the direct care of patients in a medical institution. In most cases, an LVN works under a registered nurse. There are various steps you must go through to be a licensed vocational nurse. These steps are set by professional bodies to ensure quality service delivery in the medical care sector.
To further the understanding of LVN as a career, we explore the following in this article:
- Reasons to become a licensed vocational nurse
- How to become an LVN
- Requirements for becoming an LVN
- Best licensed LVN programs
Reasons to Become A Licensed Vocational Nurse
Nursing is a very technical career yet loved by many people. As a vocational nurse, you are exposed to potentially harmful environments. Direct care for patients with infectious diseases puts you at risk of infection. Here are some common reasons why you should become a licensed vocational nurse:
- Financial Gain
One of the main reasons for entering a career is financial gain. Nursing is one of the highly-paying careers in the medical field. You can become a licensed vocational nurse and earn from your nursing skills. As a vocational nurse, you will cope with technical duties and an uncertain working environment. However, you will receive adequate pay for your services. Many factors determine how much you earn as a vocational nurse. One of these factors is your employer. Some institutions could overwork you and underpay you at the same time. Therefore, going through a job description is essential before applying for a vocational nursing job.
- Personal Satisfaction
Nursing is one of the careers in medicine that you can pursue out of passion. If you enjoy taking care of people, you can train and be a licensed vocational nurse. The duties of a vocational nurse could be overwhelming at some point. This implies that you might not enjoy your career life unless you are passionate about it. Additionally, the training programs, whether physical or online programs, could be challenging if you don’t have a heart meant for nursing. However, one of the best advantages is that nursing has no fixed retirement age. You can venture into private practice after retiring from employment. Indefinite retirement age allows you to practice your beloved profession for as long as you can.
- Respect From Society
Societies face a wide range of challenges. Being part of the solution to some of the persistent problems in a society attracts respect. As a licensed vocational nurse, you play an integral part in the health care sector. With problems such as mental health, you can help society members by becoming a vocational mental health nurse. Since you can’t work as an independent health care provider, you can join a health care team to serve the community.
There are many other benefits of becoming a licensed vocational nurse. Many opportunities within this career come to you as you gain work experience. Being a licensed vocational nurse allows you to grow through your career. Advancing your education is one of the easiest ways to rise above the rest in this profession. You will experience more complex duties that attract more benefits if you advance your skills.
How To Become An LVN
As stated earlier, medicine is a lucrative career. Nursing is one of the best career paths you can follow in this field. With nursing salaries, you are guaranteed financial freedom. There are various steps to becoming a licensed vocational nurse. These steps vary depending on various factors. They include:
- The State You Operate In
State regulations vary from one state to another, implying that the procedure for licensing could be different from one state to another. If you intend to practice in more than one state, you might have to undergo additional training. However, your training will be mainly professional practice according to the state regulations.
- Your Specialization
There are various branches of nursing you can major in as a licensed vocational nurse. These branches vary in terms of training and work done in your nursing career. One of the most common nursing specializations you can major in is pediatric nursing. Due to the complexity involved in some specializations, the licensing process could be different. Complex specializations involve more stringent regulations and requirements for licensing.
- Your Skill Level
How you fare in any career depends on how skilled you are. As a prospective vocational nurse, you need polished essential skills to be licensed. Your level of skill determines how long it can take to get a practicing license. You might have to undergo additional training to meet the minimum skill level required. Additionally, the renewal of licenses depends on your previous practice. If your contributions to the industry are wanting, you might not get the license renewal. Licensing bodies subject prospective vocational nurses to tests before issuing licenses. Part of the tests involves the application of practical skills learned in your training program.
Several other factors could affect the licensing process for an LVN. You should consult a licensed vocational nurse for advice on what to do to get the license. The licensing regulations are subject to change from time to time. Therefore, you need to stay updated with the necessary information and changes made in the licensing regulations before starting an application to be licensed. Some requirements vary by state and change over time, but some are common across all states and unlikely to change. These requirements include:
- Academic Requirements
Academic qualifications are essential in all professions. They vary depending on the nature of the work involved. Nursing is one of the technical courses in the medical field. Therefore, you have to meet minimum academic qualifications to be a licensed vocational nurse. In this profession, academic qualifications serve at two levels: entry into nursing school and entry into practice.
- Entry into nursing school- The first step to becoming a vocational nurse is joining a vocational training institution. There are many institutions to choose from, and requirements vary depending on school policies. However, most vocational nursing institutions insist on excellence in key subjects: biology, chemistry, and mathematics. A licensed practice nurse (LPN) training program and RN program have similar academic requirements. However, they are less stringent for those enrolling in institutions to be a vocational nurse or registered nurse. The training for an LPN or RN is more complicated; thus, they require much better performance than vocational nursing programs. The need to perform well in high school subjects to be admitted to a nursing school is one reason for early preparations. Once you decide to become a nurse, you should start working on your goals from as early as high school.
- Entry into practice- It is everyone’s goal to be employed right after completing education, especially after going through a tough training program. To be a vocational nurse, there are certain academic qualifications you must have attained in your training program. These requirements are set by the licensing bodies as mandated by the government. For vocational nurses, you must have completed at least two years of training in an accredited institution. Additionally, you should have completed at least 1500 hours of supervised internship. These requirements ensure you are well-versed with the essential concepts of vocational nursing. Proof of your academic performance, such as transcripts, might be needed for the licensing process.
- Licensing requirements
There are various LVN licensing requirements depending on what you specialize in during training. Medicine is an essential field and needs to be controlled for quality service provision. To achieve this, the government offers licenses for all entering this field before they start practicing. Vocational nursing is one of the fields that require licensing for you to practice. One of the main licensing requirements is proof of training to be a vocational nurse. You must undergo training in a recognized vocational training institution and achieve all minimum requirements as set by the licensing boards. There are various licenses you can get as a vocational nurse. One of the most common licenses you might need is Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). This license allows you to practice if you have specialized in pediatric vocational nursing.
If you fulfill all the requirements, you become a licensed vocational nurse, LVN. However, this does not imply that it’s the highest you can go in the career. Being an LVN is one of the ways to get into licensed practical nursing. You may not be able to get into a bachelor’s degree nursing education program after high school if your grades are below the required minimum. With a high school diploma and adequate grade for a vocational nursing program, you can enroll and later go for a registered nursing degree. Many institutions overlook high school performance if you are a licensed vocational nurse.
Best Licensed LVN Programs
Once you have settled on a career path to follow, choosing the best training institution for your nursing education is one of the hardest tasks. Many institutions offer vocational training for nurses. There are many platforms with names and details of vocational nursing programs in California and other states. However, none of these platforms can prescribe an institution that will perfectly suit your needs. Various factors could be used to gauge the suitability of a training program. They include the following:
- Quality of Training Offered
One of the biggest points assessed by employers is the skillfulness of potential employees. How skilled you become depends on the college or institution you enroll in for training. As a vocational nurse, you must have the skills to handle various problems you will face in nursing practice. Some institutions are more invested in training their students than others. When choosing an institution to enroll in for vocational nursing training, you must ensure they offer the right quality of training to provide basic nursing care. To gauge the quality of training, you can look at the facilities available at the institution. It should also have adequate resources to facilitate your research and studies as a nursing student. You can also ask practicing vocational nurses to recommend the best LVN school to enroll in.
- Cost of Training
Nursing school costs are the investment you make in attaining the needed skills. Financial considerations are essential before entering a career. It helps you estimate your returns on investment. How prepared you financially determine how comfortable you will be throughout your studies. Some vocational nursing training institutions charge higher tuition fees than others. In most cases, expensive institutions offer top-class training; however, financial constraints during training could lower the level of skills you attain. On the other hand, some institutions charge cheaper tuition fees for moderately good training. How much you are willing and able to spend on a training program should guide you on which institution to enroll in. The cost of living in some cities is very high. Consequently, training in institutions located in such cities attracts extra expenses for rent, food, and transport.
- Availability of Your Chosen Specialization
As stated earlier, there are many branches of nursing that you can major in. Vocational nursing institutions, in some cases, do not invest in all the branches within the field. When selecting an institution to enroll, check the availability of a specialization you intend to pursue. Some institutions offer the programs but on different platforms. For instance, some vocational nursing programs are available for on-campus students only, implying that you can’t study in the institution if you intend to study online. Since the marketability of nursing specializations varies, it might be hard to secure a job after changing from one specialization to another.
- Available Modes of Learning
Vocational nursing institutions offer a wide range of learning modes to cater to the diverse needs of students. When enrolling in an institution, you should ensure they offer your preferred mode of learning. Some modes, such as online learning, are economical and convenient if you live far from the training institution. However, some institutions do not support online learning. Enrolling in such institutions implies that you have to study on-campus. If you operate on a tight schedule, you can enroll in part-time learning programs. In this program, your classes will be well spread to allow you time for other commitments.
The above are the most common indicators of suitable vocational nursing training institutions. There are many more aspects you can look at, including your personal preferences. However, enrolling in a top training institution does not guarantee quality training. You must be proactive in your training for maximum gains in training. Interacting with stakeholders in the vocational nursing industry opens up your mind for better learning.
Vocational nursing training programs vary in many ways. However, some aspects are common in all specializations that you might take. One of the common aspects of vocational nursing training programs is foundational training. Once you enroll in any program, you will be taught the fundamentals of nursing before detailed training suited to your specialization. The fundamentals of nursing covered in vocational nursing programs include the following:
- Communication skills- Communication is essential in the nursing profession. Prospect vocational nurses learn the essential communication skills needed for their practice, including terminologies used in nursing and techniques of passing information at different levels. As a vocational nurse, you must report your findings of patients to an LPN or RN. Additionally, LVNs are in direct contact with the patients. Proper communication skills are essential in making the patient feel comfortable and confident about the treatment administered. Efficient information flow between vocational nurses and other practitioners in the medical field eases health care provision.
- Cognitive skills- One of the main duties of licensed vocational nurses is to monitor patient progress. For this reason, the introductory segment of a top LVN program focuses on equipping them with cognitive skills. These skills allow the nurses to detect changes in behaviors and report them to the LPN or RN. For instance, a trained vocational nurse can tell when a patient is not responding or negatively responding to treatment. If you specialize in pediatric nursing, your cognitive skills have to be to-notch. Unlike adults, children cannot directly communicate when they are in pain. Therefore, cognitive skills taught in school can help tell when a child needs medical attention.
There are several other similarities between vocational nursing programs. The similarities make it easier for you to shift from one career calling to another in the nursing field. If you are a licensed vocational nurse in one specialization and want to pursue another, you must seek licensure again. However, the conditions this time might not be as stringent.
There are many ways to earn from your career as a licensed vocational nurse. However, the main income source is the salaries you get from your employer. Various factors affect how much you earn as an LVN. They include:
- Your employer
Employers put together job descriptions that determine your role in the workplace. However, some regulations govern what licensed vocational nurses should do. The complexity of the role you perform determines how much you get paid. If you perform technical duties, you might be paid higher than those working on typical roles of LVNs. If you must handle a large number of patients, you might earn more. Working for private medical institutions attracts higher pay than in public institutions. However, job security is guaranteed in public institutions. Working in a public institution means you earn salaries and other benefits for a long time.
- Your skills
As stated earlier, one of the main aspects employers look for in potential employees is skills. Skills determine the quality of services you offer patients. Consequently, it affects the trust patients have in the institution you work for. As a well-skilled vocational nurse, you are likely to earn more as you serve in the institution. Employers pay a lot to skilled personnel to retain them from moving away from their organizations. You will earn less at the early stages of your career; however, as you gain experience, you perfect your skills and attract more pay. Enrolling in additional training programs broadens your skillset and increases your chances of earning. In your career, you can learn skills in technology to remain relevant. The incorporation of technology in health care has led to the need for medical-related computer skills. As a vocational nurse, you can earn more pay as a medical records digitization expert.
Financial discipline is essential, irrespective of the salaries you earn. Priority-guided spending is an essential character for successful licensed vocational nurses. Advancing your career requires additional education, which could be costly. Therefore, overspending on unnecessary expenses could hinder you from rising through ranks in your career. The ability to make sound financial decisions guarantees success if you venture into private practice in the future.
Although you can make a lot of money from vocational nursing, you cannot do it without a license. The licensing process involves two main steps. These are:
- Application for licensure
A prospective vocational nurse must initiate a licensure process. After completing your studies, you must apply for licensure to the necessary licensing bodies depending on your specialization. You can apply through email or a written letter as stated in the regulations of the body you apply to. When submitting your application, send in all the necessary documents. If you are a first-time applicant, include evidence of your academic achievements in the application. Some licensing bodies require recommendations from the institution you trained in.
- Professional examination
Once you submit your application, you will be shortlisted for tests by the professional body you apply to. The exams test your skills and ability to practice as a professional nurse. In most cases, the exams are physical and cover areas as wide as the recommended magnitude for training programs. Since some specializations involve additional training for licensure, you may take the examination in parts. Technological advancements and the growing demand for licensed vocational nurses have prompted the need to examine licensure candidates online. A license is issued upon completion of the examination and achievement of the minimum required score. The duration of the license varies depending on the state and licensing body. However, most last up to one year, after which you have to renew.
Nursing is an integral part of the medical field. There are different specializations within the nursing profession that you can specialize in. The roles of a nurse depend on their qualifications, one of the levels you can practice as a nurse is licensed vocational nursing. A licensed vocational nurse works under a licensed practical nurse. The LVNs are in direct contact with patients and look after them under instructions from LPNs. There are many institutions you can enroll in to become a licensed vocational nurse. Admission to these institutions depends on a wide range of factors, including high school performance in relevant subjects.
After completion of your studies, you must obtain a license to practice as a professional nurse. Requirements for licensure depend on the specialization you major in and the state where you wish to practice. However, some requirements, such as minimum academic qualifications, are standard across all states and specializations. It is your duty, as a prospective vocational nurse, to initiate the licensure process. This is through a written application to the relevant licensing body. After receiving the license, you must renew it after a certain period. License renewal does not involve long processes and tests as first-time applications.
You get a lot of income-generating opportunities as a vocational nurse. You need financial discipline to be a successful nurse. To succeed in independent nursing practice, you must have the ability to make sound financial decisions. Networking is important when practicing both as an employee or an independent vocational nurse. It allows you to create meaningful connections for your future in the profession.