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Nurse Programs And Courses For Aspiring CNAs, LPNs, And RNs

Updated on December 11, 2010

In most hospitals, there are three types of nursing professionals who deliver direct patient care: certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses.  These nurses have different job designations but they work collectively to provide quality health care to their patients.  All nurses are required to finish their formal education and training requirements before they are eligible to take their licensing or certification tests.  Once these requirements are met, nurses will be allowed to practice professionally in hospitals, nursing facilities, home health care services, or in doctor's offices.

Certified nursing assistants have the fewest educational requirements to fulfill.  The CNA program only takes 3 to 8 weeks of classroom education and clinical training to complete.  It is available through hospitals, community colleges, vocational schools, private companies, or nonprofit organizations.  CNA programs teach basic nursing skills including first aid, CPR, infection control, documentation, and emergency procedures.  Students are also required to complete at least 75 hours of classroom and clinical-based training.  Finishing the CNA training program will award students with a certificate of completion.

Licensed practical nurses have to complete an LPN training program that usually takes 1 to 1.5 years to complete.  A major requirement for students to be considered for admission in an LPN program is a high school diploma or an equivalent such as a GED.  Schools with accredited LPN training programs offer students a diploma or a certificate after completing the course.  LPN programs are mostly offered in community colleges, hospitals, technical and vocational schools, and through distance learning.  Upon completion, students are qualified to take a national licensure examination (NCLEX-PN) for practical nurses.  Until students have passed the examination, they are not allowed to practice as a licensed practical nurse professionally.  The curriculum of LPN training programs prepare students for their work as an LPN through courses that covers patient care, medical-surgical nursing, obstetrics, pharmacology, drug administration, pediatrics, and first aid.  The LPN program will also provide their students adequate background on anatomy, physiology, and biology.  Students will also get hands-on experience through clinical training in hospitals, nursing facilities, clinics, or outpatient centers.

Registered nurses must complete a two-year or a four-year RN program before they are eligible to sit for licensure.  Most RN programs confer an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree.  Only a few offer a diploma.  Graduates of a two-year RN programs receive an associate's degree while those who finish the four-year programs are awarded with a bachelor's degree.  RN programs are more intense and demanding when compared to CNA or LPN programs.  Student admission per semester is limited and there are more educational requirements to be met.  Prerequisites such as microbiology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, English, and mathematics must be completed before a student's application is considered.  Accredited curriculums for RN programs usually cover topics such as nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, pediatrics, maternity, leadership and management, ethics, medical-surgical nursing, and nursing computer applications.  A specific number of clinical hours in hospital units including pediatrics, maternity, ICU, medical-surgical, and emergency are also required.

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