Everything You Need to Know About LPN Classes Online
One of the fastest ways to break into the field of nursing is by training to become a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. LPN training programs are offered at brick-and-mortar schools, but being physically present to attend class isn’t an option for everyone. If you want to become an LPN but need more flexibility in terms of training, online LPN education may be the answer.
Why Should I Complete My LPN Training Online?
If you already know that you want to become an LPN but haven’t completed your training yet, it’s probably because you don’t have a lot of time to spare. Work, family and other obligations probably consume most of it. While being physically present on campus on a regular basis may not be feasible, logging on to the internet to complete most of your LPN training requirements probably is. Happily, online LPN training is generally just as high in quality as traditional, campus-based training.
How Can I Train to Become an LPN Completely Online?
Given the physical nature of working as an LPN and the high stakes of working directly with patients, you may be wondering how you can possibly learn everything that you need to know through online training. The answer is simple: You can’t. All online LPN programs are actually hybrid programs. Most of the training can be completed online, but clinical skills training, which is required by state boards of nursing, must be done in person at local health care facilities.
Enrollment Requirements for an Online LPN Program
Enrollment requirements for most online LPN courses are generally minimal. Some common examples of such requirements include:
- Be age 18 or older
- Possess a high school diploma or GED
- Pass a criminal background check
- Complete a health screening
- In some cases, complete an entrance exam; the Test of Essential Academic Skills, or TEAS, is often administered
Accreditation of Online LPN Programs
The most pressing goal of any LPN training program is to prepare students for the NCLEX-PN licensing exam as this step must be completed before an LPN license will be issued. To be eligible to sit for this exam, you must provide proof of having completed a properly accredited LPN training program. This rule applies to online programs as well as traditional ones, and it is crucial to confirm that the program that you enroll in possesses the right credentials. At minimum, it should be approved by your state licensing authority—typically the state board of nursing or department of public health—and be accredited by a reputable organization. Look for accreditation by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC).
Online LPN Classes: The Basics
Before looking for accredited online LPN education programs, familiarize yourself with these basic considerations:
- Style – Online LPN courses may be synchronous or asynchronous. This refers to the way in which online training is handled. With synchronous online training, students are required to log in at specific times of day to participate in lessons, lectures and other related activities. This option is less common but may be ideal for someone who needs more structure. With asynchronous online training, students are given objectives that must be met over a specified period of time. They are then free to complete lessons and other activities at their own time and pace. This option is widely available and is perfect for busy adults with work, family and related obligations.
- Duration – If you are only interested in doing this training online because you think that it will save you a lot of time, understand that both options are roughly the same in terms of duration. In both cases, the important thing is whether you can complete your training on a part- or full-time basis. In the former case, you are looking at up to two years of training; in the latter, you are looking at 9 to 12 months. Both figures apply whether you complete your training on campus or online.
- Cost – Due to strong demand for online training options, most LPN training schools and classes offer online versions of campus-based programs. As a result, both types of training end up costing about the same in most cases. On the more affordable end of the scale, which typically means in-state training, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,500 to $4,000. Financial aid may be available, and it could reduce these costs. On the other end of the scale, online LPN school tuition can cost upwards of $10,000 to $15,000.
What Does Online LPN Training Entail?
If this will be your first experience with online education, it is normal to feel apprehensive. Knowing what to expect helps, so read on for some details about how online LPN schools work.
- Online Portion - Although online LPN education isn’t exclusively handled online, most of it can be. Aspects of the online portion of a typical online LPN program include:
- Online classes and lectures – Online students log in to online portals to access daily lessons and lectures, which are typically delivered via video.
- Discussion and chat groups – Since you don’t have the benefit of being in class with other students when studying online, most online LPN class portals offer chat and discussion features.
- Communication with instructor – In lieu of traditional office hours, online LPN courses usually offer convenient online options for communicating with instructors, including email and even chat.
- Coursework - When completing online LPN courses, you will find that assignments are almost exclusively handled online. Coursework for online programs covers the same subjects as traditional, campus-based programs. Some of the courses that you can expect to cover over the course of your online LPN education include:
- health assessments
- human anatomy and physiology
- NCLEX-PN test review
- ethics in nursing
- Clinical Training Portion - Licensing authorities in all 50 states require LPN licensing applicants to have completed a minimum number of hours of in-person clinical training. Therefore, clinical training is a part of all online LPN schools. It is handled in a variety of ways, including:
- Assigned locations – Many online LPN programs automatically assign students to clinical training opportunities.
- Choose from a list – Your online program may provide you with a list of clinical training opportunities, and you can then select the one that works for you.
- Arrange your own – In rare cases, LPN trainees are required to set up their own clinical training opportunities.
Accelerated Online LPN Options
With most full-time students completing their online LPN classes in just 9 to 12 months, few of them are too concerned with getting done any faster than that. If you already possess experience as a certified nursing assistant, however, you may be eligible for accelerated training. Also known as CNA-to-LPN bridge programs, accelerated programs take your existing experience into consideration to allow you to skip ahead through your training more quickly.
Advantages and Disadvantages
While online LPN courses are excellent solutions for many aspiring LPNs, online training isn’t right for everyone. It is important to understand the potential pros and cons of this type of training.
The main advantages of online LPN courses include:
- brief duration
- great return on investment
- similar quality as traditional training
Some potential disadvantages of online LPN classes include:
- part-time training takes just as long
- not exclusively handled online due to clinical training requirements
- some students struggle to stay focused without traditional campus-based instruction
Steps to Getting Started with Online LPN Training
Now that you have the real first step out of the way—understanding the basics of online LPN courses and training—it’s time to get serious about making this happen. Follow these steps to get the ball rolling on your online LPN education endeavors:
- Meet basic enrollment requirements – If you don’t already, take corrective steps now. For example, if you don’t have a diploma or GED, get one.
- Select an online LPN program – Choose an approved and accredited program that suits your schedule, budget and other needs.
- Complete online training requirements – Complete online coursework, quizzes, exams and lectures to meet your online training requirements.
- Complete clinical training requirements – Complete the required number of in-person clinical training hours as outlined by your program and state.
From there, all that is left to do is to apply for licensure, take and pass the NCLEX-PN exam and obtain your LPN license. Before you know it, you will be applying for LPN positions in your area.
Top 8 Schools that Offer LPN Classes Online
Choose from these top-rated nursing schools that offer online LPN programs:
University of New England
University of San Francisco
University of South Carolina
Upper Iowa University