How to Choose an LPN Program in Washington District of Columbia
Now that you have chosen a fulfilling career in the field of nursing, it’s important that you choose a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) college in Washington DC that will furnish the right education. If you reside in Texas or California, then you will be looking for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) school instead. There is no distinction, other than the names, between an LPN and an LVN. They both perform the same job functions and work in healthcare facilities under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RN) or Doctors. But their functions do differ depending on the state they practice in, which we will look at in the next segment. When starting their search for schools, many future nursing students begin with those that are the closest to their homes or that are the least expensive. Although cost and location are important considerations, they are not the only qualifications that you should base your decision on. Other factors, for instance if the schools are accredited or have high pass rates on the licensing exam are extremely important too. There are various other questions that you should ask potential schools before enrolling in a LVN or LPN training program that we will discuss later in this article. But first, let’s look at the function of an LPN and what is involved in the training and licensing process.
LPN and LVN Job Responsibilities
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses have numerous functions that they complete in the Washington DC healthcare facilities where they work. As their titles indicate, they are mandated to be licensed in all states, including District of Columbia. While they may be accountable for supervising Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), they themselves generally work under the oversight of either an RN or a doctor. The healthcare facilities where they work are numerous and varied, for example hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and long-term care facilities. Anyplace that you can find patients in need of medical attention is their dominion. Each state not only controls their licensing, but also what duties an LPN can and can’t perform. So based on the state, their daily work functions may include:
- Taking vital signs
- Administering medications
- Initiating IV drips
- Monitoring patients
- Collecting blood or urine samples
- Taking care of patient records
- Helping physicians or Registered nurses with procedures
In addition to their job functions being mandated by each state, the Washington DC health facilities or other healthcare providers where LPNs or LVNs work can further limit their job duties within those parameters. Additionally, they can practice in various specialties of nursing, for instance long-term care, critical care, oncology and cardiology.
There are generally two scholastic accreditations available in District of Columbia that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest amount of time, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The 2nd option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you seek, it needs to be state approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses in Washington DC, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Other Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Washington DC area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program offered by District of Columbia community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at District of Columbia colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to contact the District of Columbia board of nursing for any state mandates.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be received at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Washington DC area. The duration of the training can take anywhere from one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction required and every state has its own requirements. So it’s important to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for District of Columbia to make certain that the training course is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Classes
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many Washington DC area schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the time to attend college for many students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nurse Courses
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout District of Columbia and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the site of the school relative to Washington DC along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other schools.
Accreditation. It’s a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the Washington DC school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited District of Columbia schools.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for nurses, both LPNs and RNs, are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the Washington DC school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for District of Columbia or the state where you will be practicing.
Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the District of Columbia school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some local Washington DC healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements are of the schools as well.
Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the LPN colleges you are looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts in the Washington DC area to assist students gain a position.
Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs in District of Columbia require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with regional hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships in the Washington DC area.
Enroll in the Right LPN Program Washington 20001
Selecting the best Licensed Practical Nurse school is arguably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are various factors that you should think about when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this article, it is important that you pick an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Washington DC.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Nurse?When getting ready to interview for a nursing position, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask nursing applicants is "What compelled you to decide on nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a licensed practical nurse, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding nurse and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
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