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LPN Continuing Education: An Overview

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), like many other healthcare professionals, are encouraged to continue their education. Read this article to learn why continually taking courses can be beneficial to these medical professionals for career advancement.

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What is Continuing Education for LPNs?

Continuing education is education LPNs receive after they have completed their required education and obtained their nursing licenses. Continuing education can help LPNs maintain their skills and better their understanding of the field. It may be required for licensing renewal.

In addition to these benefits, primarily, nurses can use this opportunity for career advancement. They may hope to pursue a career in a more specialized nursing field or higher professional level. For example, some nurses hope to have a career as a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP). Each career option requires additional education and may require additional licensing.

Associate Degree in Nursing

The first step in order to advance your career as an LPN would be to compete an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Some LPNs will have already fulfilled this requirement upon gaining their LPN license. However, since LPN status can be achieved without completing an ADN program, this is a necessary step for those who have not received the additional education. These programs require an additional year of studies, focusing on courses such as:

  • Human development
  • Family health
  • Advanced anatomy
  • Professional ethics

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Some schools offer an LPN-BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree option. These are for LPNs who have already received their associate degree in nursing. Completing this program would allow an LPN to attempt to become an RN by completing additional licensing. Common courses in these programs include:

  • Health assessment
  • Nursing management
  • Adult health issues
  • Clinical practice

Licensure

LPNs who want to become RNs must pass the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), an advanced exam option of the NCLEX-PN, which licensed practical nurses have already completed. Passing this exam will allow LPNs to become RNs and likely earn greater income and further develop their careers.

Additional Continuing Education Options

LPNs who have become RNs can further their education in a variety of ways. Students can earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree, which can provide the path to gaining additional nurse classification. Some common specializations are:

  • Advanced practice nurse
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Acute or primary care specialist
  • Geriatric nurse practitioner

These degree programs require an additional 2-3 years of study in a chosen field. Becoming specialized may require completing additional licensing, depending on the state or employer. Other options include graduate certificate education programs and doctor of nursing practice degree programs. Each option can lead to greater specialization and career advancement in a variety of areas, including teaching and research.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS predicts a 22% job growth for LPNs and licensed vocational nurses in the years 2010-2020. These nurses earned a median annual wage of $41,540 in May 2012, according to the BLS.

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