For those interested in the healthcare industry, earning an LVN degree is one of the quickest ways to enter a fast-growing field. As the U.S. population ages, the need for licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) increases for hospitals and nursing home facilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for practical and vocational nurses to grow 9% from 2019 to 2029.
LVN programs focus on the core values of the nursing field: dignity, integrity, altruism, autonomy, and social justice. Over the course of a one-year program, students learn to apply these values to provide safe and quality healthcare as determined by the state board.
According to the BLS, LVNs earn a median annual salary of $47,480. These LVN careers include working in healthcare facilities under the instruction of registered nurses (RNs) and physicians. Many LVN programs in Texas provide students with access to professional organizations and continued education programs to advance their careers.
What Can I Do With a LVN Degree?
With an LVN degree, students qualify to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nursing. After passing the exam, degree-holders can pursue various healthcare positions within the state of their licensure. This includes hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, schools, and private practices. Typical duties of an LVN include administering medication, taking vitals, providing patient comfort, and reporting on a patient's condition to a physician or RN.
An LVN degree can also serve as the foundation for advancing a nursing career. Often the courses in an LVN program provide basic knowledge for pursuing an associate degree or a bachelor of science in nursing. This shortens the time and cost of a four-year degree.
Accreditation for an LVN Degree
When choosing an LVN program, check the school's accreditation. Accredited schools pass quality reviews conducted by third-party organizations. Regionally accredited schools pass review by regional institutions, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Schools with regional accreditation are often nonprofit, academically oriented colleges. Credits from these schools typically transfer smoothly to both regionally and nationally accredited schools.
National accreditation often goes to vocational schools or specific programs. Students should research the accreditation status of their desired school and give preference to regionally accredited schools. Learners can check a school's accreditation using the Department of Education's searchable database.
LVN programs also seek approval from their state board. Approval from the state board means the program meets the educational requirements to pass the state license exam.
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Yes. LVNs are entry-level nurses specializing in technical procedures. They work under RNs, mid-level practitioners, and physicians.
Functionally, there is no difference between an LPN and an LVN. LVN is the term used for a practical, or vocational, nurse in California and Texas.
In 2019, LVNs earned a median annual salary of $47,480, according to the BLS.
RNs oversee the work of LVNs, and therefore they make more per year. However, an LVN leads to an RN.
What Are the Requirements for an LVN Degree?
All LVN programs require a high school or GED diploma. LVN programs in Texas additionally require that all applicants take the Texas Success Initiative Assessment.
Two nursing school entrance exams exist: the Test of Essential Academic Skills and the Health Education Systems, Inc. While some programs accept either test, many require a specific one and offer the test onsite.
LVN programs also require a full health screening at the time of acceptance, proof of immunizations and health insurance, and CPR certification. Programs sometimes offer CPR courses as part of the curriculum. Every program focuses on clinical rotations that serve as the student's capstone.
Courses in a LVN Program
An LVN program typically consists of a combination of theory classes, lab simulations, and hands-on clinical experience. In these courses, students gain ethically informed problem-solving skills and explore the foundations of specialized medical care. Through clinical rounds, students apply classroom knowledge often under the supervision of RNs and physicians.
The final round of clinicals often serve as a capstone for the program. Supervisors assess enrollees' mastery of nursing philosophy in practice. Some programs may focus on medical practice, while others specialize in an age group or type of assistive care. The list below includes common courses found in an LVN program.
This course provides an introduction to the nursing profession. Topics include history, legal topics, ethical and professional standards, and mental health management. Enrollees examine the philosophy guiding not only vocational nurses but the entire nursing profession. These ethical pillars shape the future course load as well as the benchmark for progressing in the field.
Enrollees learn the general principles of giving patients medicine per physician guidelines. This includes instruction on dosage, safety, documentation, and measurement tools. The course provides the basic knowledge required for future courses. Students also practice these skills in clinicals, preparing them for professional LVN duties.
Gerontology is one of the age group specialized courses offered in LVN programs. Similar courses include pediatrics or maternity and neonatal care. These courses focus on the physical and psychosocial needs of older patients. Gerontology also covers common diseases associated with aging, as well as cultural attitudes toward the elderly. Specialized instruction allows for LVNs to treat different patients with the same level of dignity and quality while addressing their unique needs.
Pharmacology expands on the knowledge learned in medical administration to cover the chemistry behind determining medication treatments. Additionally, the course includes instruction on the therapeutic and curative effects of different types of medications. This knowledge allows LVNs to make informed decisions when providing patient care. Knowledge of pharmacology proves especially useful for LVNs working in hospitals and nursing homes with high volumes of medication prescriptions.
Many programs include a required course preparing for the state licensing exam during the final semester. The prep course covers a review of nursing knowledge, study skills, and test-taking strategies. Completing a program and earning a certificate qualifies students for the exam. Programs with NCLEX Prep courses ensure that students pass and earn their license so that they can continue on to the workforce.
Certified Hemodialysis Nurse
CHN certified practical nurses can work in specialized nephrology care. Certification requires an exam offered by the Board of Nephrology Examiners and Nursing Technology. To take the exam, LVNs need a valid license and boast experience working in end-stage renal disease facilities.
Pediatric Advanced Life Support
While many LVN programs offer instruction in pediatric care, working in pediatrics requires a certification in PALS. Organizations affiliated with the American Heart Association offer PALS certification programs. These programs often require completion of a course curriculum and a final exam.
LVNs interested in psychiatric care can earn a certification for specialized treatment of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Universities and medical facilities offer online webinar-based programs that only require an enrollment fee. These certification programs prepare LVNs to work in home care and long-term care facilities.
Professional Organizations for LVN Majors
Professional organizations provide LVNs with exclusive industry resources to advance their careers. Almost all of these organizations include membership options for students that can be upgraded once acquiring a license. After becoming a member, LVNs gain access to continued education programs, organization-specific scholarships and grants, and the latest information regarding nursing standards and practice.
The following organizations provide the best opportunity for growth and development for LVNs.
National Association of Licensed Practical NursesThe NALPN is one of the largest professional organizations available to LVNs. The association promotes continued education within the field and provides networking opportunities through yearly conferences. Members also gain access to certification programs.
Licensed Vocational Nurses Association of TexasLVNAT provides benefits for LVNs and LVN students in Texas, including scholarships and reduced fees for professional training. After submitting an application, qualified applicants pay a yearly dues based on the level of membership.
National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc.NAPNES is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to the promotion and education of practical nurses. Members enjoy access to online classes and certification programs and an included subscription to the Journal of Practical Nursing. The organization offers a diverse list of membership types.
National Association of School NursesThe NASN is restricted to LVNs who work as school nurses. It also offers more specialized resources for LVNs who wish to advance their careers. LVNs begin with an associate membership option and can progress to an active membership once acquiring an RN license. All membership tiers include access to online toolkits, journal resources, and networking opportunities.
Some schools may offer scholarships or institutional grants for students with financial need. Students should check the financial aid options of their prospective schools. Nursing students can also explore multiple external scholarships to help offset the costs of their LVN degree. The list below includes a few scholarships available to anyone entering an LVN program.
Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution offers this scholarship for students enrolled in an accredited nursing program who demonstrate financial need. Along with transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a personal statement, applicants must provide a letter of acceptance to their nursing program.
Who Can Apply: First-year nursing students can apply for a semester scholarship from Coursey Enterprises. Students must be U.S. citizens and submit proof of their acceptance to an accredited program. They must also submit a 200-word essay explaining their interest in the nursing field. Scholarship recipients are featured on the Coursey Enterprises website.
Amount: $250, awarded per fall and spring semester
Who Can Apply: Cherokee Uniforms began this scholarship in 2007 for students seeking a nursing degree. Applicants must attend their program by the end of January of the award year. Students can enroll part time or full time and must answer an essay prompt with their application.
Who Can Apply: The HRSA Nurse Corps offers a scholarship program for individuals pursuing any professional nursing degree in an accredited nursing program. Applicants must be currently enrolled in their program with classes starting no later than September 30. The application process involves an essay, recommendation letters, and service to the Nurse Corps upon graduation.
Amount: Varies. Includes tuition and fees, books and materials, and a monthly stipend
Best LVN Programs in Texas 2021
A public community college in Baytown, Lee College offers a 12-month vocational nursing program. The 47-credit program includes class lectures, laboratory work, and hands-on clinicals at local facilities. Courses cover gerontology, pediatrics, adult, and neonatal and maternity care.
The final clinical serves as the program capstone to measure students' competency and mastery of nursing techniques outlined in the Differentiated Essential Competencies of Graduates of Texas Nursing Programs. Applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA and a composite score of 78 on the HESI-PN entrance exam for consideration.
After completion, students receive a Level 1 Certificate of Completion from the college and qualification to take the NCLEX-PN. The nursing program meets the standards outlined by the Texas Board of Nursing and educational requirements for licensure in 46 states.
College of the Mainland, a public community college in Texas City, has offered a clinical training intensive vocational nursing program since 2005. The program centers on employer-valued skills and provides students with the ability to offer ethical and evidence-based care.
Enrollees must attend two weeks of full-time clinical orientation. Along with the general vocational nursing curriculum, COM requires specific training in surgical nursing for all graduates. The school also offers an LVN-to-RN program that graduates of the vocational nursing program can enter after obtaining an LVN license.
Successful applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA; a minimum 70% on the HESI-A2 math, reading, basic vocabulary, and grammar sections; and a "C" or better in human anatomy and physiology. The program takes 12 months to complete and starts in January.
Schreiner University is a private, Presbytarian four-year university in Kerrville that offers a year-long vocational nursing certificate program. The beginner-friendly program requires no prerequisite classes and includes anatomy and physiology classes within the course curriculum. Clinical training is outsourced to Kerrville-area medical facilities. Learners may need to work outside of regular program hours.
Applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA, two recommendation letters, and a persuasive essay for program consideration. Applicants must also participate in an interview.
A public, regionally accredited community college in Pasadena, San Jacinto College offers a level two certificate of technology program in vocational nursing. San Jac hosts a fall and spring start for the LVN program on both the North and South campuses.
The program includes 560 in-class instructional hours and 864 lab and clinical hours. The course load focuses on nursing skills and ethics courses, with a total of five clinical rounds over the 12-month program. Due to the rigorous curriculum, applicants must have completed human anatomy and physiology with a "C" or better within five years of applying. Students may transfer credits for the prerequisite from another accredited institution. After completing the program, certificate-holders may apply for the associate of applied science - LVN degree.
Successful applicants need at least a 2.25 college GPA and HESI-A2 scores of at least 70% in reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and math.
Amarillo College, a public, regionally accredited community college in Amarillo, offers a mentor-style 12-month LVN certificate program. Faculty serve as coaches guiding students through the process of learning and integrating nursing science and patient care.
Courses include lectures, labs, and clinicals. While learners must complete labs and clinicals in person, AC offers online and hybrid synchronous lecture options. The campus hosts a full Nursing Resource Center with clinical simulation labs to practice patient-oriented care. Students must complete each class with a 75% average to progress to the next school term.
Prerequisites include anatomy and physiology and medical terminology with at least a "C" grade. Applicants are scored on a point system with a combination of points assigned based on GPA, HESI-A2 scores, and prerequisite grades.