Becoming an LPN is one of the fastest ways to start your nursing career, but in the long term, is LPN school worth it? With so many healthcare job entry points, it can be difficult to decide which path to take. What schooling do you need to be an LPN, and is LPN school difficult? Discover whether or not earning your LPN before RN is worth it based on your nursing career goals.
What schooling do you need to be an LPN?
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a type of nursing that does not require a degree. Instead of enrolling in a 2- or 4-year degree program, LPN hopefuls must choose a certification program through a community college, vocational school, or online curriculum.
The schooling you need to be an LPN must be an accredited program. Accreditation ensures your education meets the requirements necessary to become a licensed nurse.
Because there are so many different options, it’s important to research the details of each to see whether the program will work with your schedule and learning preferences.
Things to consider when choosing an LPN school:
Location (in person vs. online instruction)
Schedule (full time vs. part time schedule; day, night, or weekend class availability)
How hard is it to get into LPN school?
It is not hard to get into LPN school. Unlike nursing degree programs, which tend to be fairly competitive and require several nursing prerequisites such as general education college credits and the nursing school entrance exam (TEAS), LPN schools have minimal entrance requirements.
To get into LPN school, you will need:
High school diploma
Can you be an LPN without a high school diploma? No, you must have either a high school diploma or GED to begin an LPN school. This requirement ensures you have enough foundational education to build upon while pursuing your LPN coursework.
Is LPN school difficult?
LPN school can be difficult for many students. This is because students enroll in challenging science-based courses such as chemistry, biology, anatomy, and more that will likely feature unfamiliar topics and medical terminology.
Example LPN coursework may include:
Introduction to Psychology
Human Growth and Development
LPN school is also difficult due to clinicals. In order to prepare future LPNs for hands-on patient care, students go into the field to apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings. Interacting with patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities allows you to experience what it’s really like to be an LPN and build your confidence in the job.
Balancing coursework and clinicals can be mentally and emotionally taxing for LPN students, so it’s important to prioritize self care and ask for help whenever you need extra support.
How long does it take to finish LPN school?
LPN program lengths vary from school to school, but the average time it takes to finish is between 12-18 months. Some LPN programs can be completed just under a year while others may take up to two. Do your research to compare the difference between LPN programs you're interested in.
After completing LPN school, you’ll need to take the NCLEX-PN exam to receive licensure. The NCLEX-PN (or National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses) tests your skills to ensure you’re ready to care for real patients.
The NCLEX-PN is less comprehensive than the NCLEX-RN (taken by future registered nurses) but still requires study time to prepare. Many LPN programs will include some prep in their scheduled curriculum, but additional test prep courses can help boost your confidence going into the exam.
This exam can only be taken once every 45 days in the event of failure. Retaking the exam will prolong the time to finish your LPN.
LPN vs. RN school time
RN school time is much longer than LPN school, because RNs pursue a degree as opposed to a certification.
There are two school paths to becoming a registered nurse:
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): Average 18-24 months
Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN): Average 3-4 years
While there are ways to earn your RN degree faster, pursuing a degree will still take longer because students receive a more well-rounded, in-depth education. Degree candidates dive deep into more comprehensive healthcare topics, which allows students to have more authority and responsibility once they get into the field.
Is it worth it to do LPN before RN?
For many future nurses it is worth it to do LPN before RN. This is because LPN programs are much shorter than RN degrees and allow individuals to enter the workforce much faster.
Gaining real-world experience as an LPN can help you understand whether you want to commit to a long-term nursing career. Although LPNs and RNs perform different tasks, you'll get a front-view seat of what it’s really like to work in healthcare can clarify your goals.
Starting as an LPN can open your eyes to what it’s really like to be an RN, both positive and negative. Some may discover they don’t enjoy the daily RN responsibilities, while others may solidify their choice to eventually become an RN.
Luckily, LPNs who want to continue their nursing education can pursue an LPN to RN Bridge Program as an accelerated degree path. An RN Bridge builds off the training and education you already have to help you reach your goals in less time. This path “bridges the gap” from one nursing credential to the next and is a great way to move forward.
Bridge from LPN to RN with Achieve Test Prep
It’s worth it to do an LPN before RN, so if you’re ready to take the next step in your education, Achieve Test Prep can help! Our LPN to RN Bridge Program was designed for busy nurses just like you looking to balance full-time work with education. While we do not offer degrees directly, we offer the support you need to get through nursing school, including online test prep courses, on-demand tutoring, and more. Connect with an Achieve Advisor to see how we can prepare you for your RN journey!