Becoming a practical nurse is well within the reach of almost every high school graduate but it does require a little more time spent in school to get the PN certification. Once certified, a practical nurse can expect to become a valued member of the medical staff of a hospital, dispensary or other healthcare facility. Duties will generally include observing patients’ health, providing routine care, assisting doctors and registered nurses as well as communicating with patients and their families.
Practical nursing is a career that most practitioners find to be both personally and financially rewarding. Here is a quick rundown on the level of education needed and how an aspiring student can most easily accomplish this goal.
The educational requirements to obtain start with a high school or equivalency degree. Next, the student must complete a practical nursing program at an accredited institution of higher learning – usually a community or technical college. These courses provide a combination of classes in biology, anatomy, nutrition and pharmacology along with more practical nursing experience in a supervised clinical setting. Students can usually complete this type of program in 1-2 years. Further educational opportunities exist and can be completed on a part-time basis allowing you to work as well as study.
Having completed the practical nursing coursework from a state-approved program, the practitioner will then have to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed to practice and work as an PN. Each state has different criteria that must be met before you can sit for the exam. Check with your state's licensing board for more details. Ongoing education and recertification must also be undertaken on a regular basis – usually every two years – and again varies by state.
Obtaining your PN certification is a great stepping stone towards an advanced degree in nursing. One option is to enroll in an PN-to-RN program which is geared specifically for PNs and takes about three years to complete. Alternatively, an PN can take advanced training in such areas as IV therapy, gerontology, long-term care, and obstetrics. “Bridge” programs also exist to help PNs become registered nurses. On a practical and more immediately level, an PN can become qualified through experience to become a “charge” nurse who is responsible for the actions of other PNs in a specific hospital ward.
As mentioned, a career as a practical nurse can be rewarding, both personally and financially, for anyone with a sincere desire to help others. It does take some time and study to accomplish this goal and become certified but the vast majority of PNs will tell you that it is well worth the effort. If you would like any further information on the programs available and how you can get started today on the road to a new career, please contact us online at the Athena Career Academy or reach us directly at 419.329.4075.