The focus of the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses is to ensure that nurses are adequately skilled enough to practice safe nursing. Practical Nurses are entry-level medical professionals that assist Registered Nurses and physicians in hospitals and medical offices. Their duties range from assisting patients to working with medical equipment.
Eligibility for the NCLEX-PN is determined by your education and work experience. Check in with your state board to find any specific requirements that pertain to you.
On the NCLEX-PN, you will have about 205 questions, but 15 of them do not count toward your score. These questions are used for research purposes and may be used on a future exam. You must answer at least 85 questions in order to pass the test. Although most of the questions are in the multiple-choice format, some of them are “selections” where you type in the answer or arrange procedure orders.
Like the NCLEX-RN, much of the NCLEX-PN focuses on “Client Needs.” You should know about “safe, effective care,” infection control procedures, coordinated care, health promotion, psychosocial and physiological integrity, and more. Other big topics include psychiatric care, reduction of risk, medicine, basic care, and adaptation. These are the same topics found on the NCLEX-RN.
Every NCLEX-PN is different because they automatically adapt to the test taker’s skill. The test format is simple to master, since you only use two keys the entire time (return key and space bar). When you first start the NCLEX-PN, the questions are deceptively simple. They get progressively more difficult if you answer the first few questions correctly. If you do not answer the questions correctly, the next few might get a little easier.
This exam has no defined time limit; instead, your speed determines the end time. The computer will tell you when you are done and automatically submit your answers. It is a very smart software program that can figure out when you are competent enough. Keep answering questions until you reach 205 or until the computer tells you to stop and brings you to the submission screen. It is a very intuitive test that works with you rather than against you.
Unfortunately, the NCLEX-PN does not allow you to go back and review or change any of your answers, so be very careful when choosing your answers. You may not skip any answers, but you can use a few different methods to narrow down your answer selections if you don’t know the correct one. One method is to remove the one that makes the least amount of sense or turn each answer into a “true” or “false” statement. You will get an automatic pass/fail notice at the end of your test.
Once you get your passing score, you can start using the “LPN” acronym after your name. This stands for “Licensed Practical Nurse” and is a nationally recognized title for nursing professionals. If you work in California or Texas, you probably call yourself an “LVN” for “Licensed Vocational Nurse.”
How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
If you are looking for a career that offers flexibility, time off, and a varied work schedule, then a career in practical nursing might be appropriate for you. LPNs, as they are called, work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and even prisons to provide medical assistance for patients of all ages.
An LPN has different duties depending on where she or he works. Most LPNs have lots of experience using catheters, applying wound dressings, checking for bedsores, cleaning patients, getting fluid samples, and checking vital signs. You will be supervised by a Registered Nurse or a physician at all times.
In order to become an LPN, you first need your high school diploma or GED. Then, start looking at community colleges for LPN programs. Some schools offer the LPN degree online with an additional practical section. Most LPN programs are about a year long if you decide to go full-time. Check to see if the school is accredited and in good standing.
The first classes of your college education will consist of courses like English, math, anatomy, and communication. Everyone must take these general courses. Your advanced classes come after the basics listed above. Nursing students will take classes like pediatrics, nutrition, fundamentals of practical nursing, pharmacology, and administration. You will also learn CPR and basic life-saving tactics. The last portion of your education is the practical part, where you start working in a hospital with doctors and nurses. Nursing schools arrange these internships for their students, so don’t worry about trying to find a job by yourself.
How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
When you get your nursing degree, you may then register for the NCLEX-PN exam. This test will ask you dozens of questions about the subjects you learned in nursing school. One way to prepare for it is to buy flashcards, which are excellent for vocabulary building and memorization. Another way to prepare for the NCLEX-PN is to study the test format and look over some questions in the study guides. This way, you won’t have to read the basic instructions at the beginning of your NCLEX-PN exam. Every minute counts!
Pearson VUE is the only authorized testing center for NCLEX exams. Fortunately, there are dozens of testing centers sprinkled around the country, so you can pick one that is closest to you. You can also choose your exam date and time.
The Pearson VUE testing centers have many rules. You cannot bring any guests to your test or any extra items besides your photo I.D. The testing center will give you writing utensils and a calculator if you want one. The exam will start when you skip over the tutorial and begin answering questions. Do not be fooled if the questions sound easy, because they will get progressively harder if you are doing a good job. Answer every question to the best of your ability and keep selecting answers until the program stops. The proctor at the front desk will give you a printout of your score, which is in a “pass/fail” format.
How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)
It seems that everyone these days is either going to school to become an RN or knows someone who is. The reason is that Registered Nursing is a great career to get into these days, with numerous job openings and good starting salaries. Most people who get the RN designation end up specializing in a certain field, whether it’s surgery, pediatrics, or geriatrics. Specialties offer higher starting pay and more focused job duties.
Registered Nurses have so many responsibilities that it’s impossible to name them all. On any given workday, an RN might teach patients about staying healthy, dress a wound, draw blood, or give CPR. It all depends on the type of nursing specialty he or she has.
Most Registered Nurses with jobs have bachelor’s degrees. Up until a few years ago, most RNs had associate’s degrees only. Now the requirements are much more stringent, and it’s quite difficult to get into a nursing program. Most degree programs have more applicants than they can use. Since RN programs are getting crowded in many areas, universities are collaborating with community colleges to offer “2+2” degree programs. Students spend two years in a community college taking general classes. Then they transfer to a nearby four-year college for the last two years of their programs.
If you look at job ads, most of them ask for RNs with four-year degrees. One way to stand out is to take specialized classes in nursing school or to get a master’s degree. You will need a four-year degree if you intend to get into administration or teaching. Big cities are currently facing nursing shortages. Another way to get into Registered Nursing is to start out with an associate’s in Practical Nursing. You can later go back and take night classes to get the RN requirements.
Lastly, you will have to take the NCLEX-RN exam right after nursing school graduation. This exam will test you on everything you were taught in RN school, but it mostly focuses on “Client Needs.” Your responsibility as a nurse is to help others and keep your patients healthy.
The NCLEX-RN is administered via computer software at a proctored test center. Only Pearson VUE can give these nursing exams. You can sign up for the test as soon as you graduate from nursing school and meet their requirements.
One good fact about the NCLEX-RN exam is that you get your pass/fail score immediately. You don’t have to wait endless weeks to receive a letter in the mail, so that eliminates a lot of anxiety right away.
You can actually start studying for the NCLEX-RN while you are still in nursing school. Review vocabulary terms with flashcards, read over your notes, and focus on the topics listed on the NCLEX-RN study guides. Wait until you are completely ready for the exam before you schedule it. It is a big commitment of your time, money, and energy, so you don’t want to fail the test after all your hard work.
Job Outlook for LPNs and RNs
Job Outlook for LPNs and RNsIt’s a great idea to research a career path before you actually embark on it. Nursing is a career that has enriched the lives of millions around the world. As a nurse, you can bring people a lot of happiness by helping them with their physical problems. A nursing career is never boring, but it can be stressful. You may be up all night working in the ER or helping a surgeon with a long operation. The rewards, however, are anything but stressful!
The job outlook for nurses is excellent. Experts project that the next 10 years will bring greater job opportunities for those seeking careers in nursing. However, the job outlook does vary by location and nursing specialty. Registered Nurses will be in demand for sure. At least half a million new RN jobs will open up in the next several years. The turnover is due to nurses retiring and hospitals expanding. In addition, an aging Baby Boomer group is going to need medical care quite soon.
RNs should expect to see much of the job growth in private physician’s offices. The pay is usually good and the hours are reasonable in these work settings. Home health care services are another huge employer of RNs and LPNs. Baby Boomers prefer to get treatment in their homes rather than go to a nursing care facility. Lastly, hospitals will seek to hire more RNs who have extra education and specialized work experience.
Hospitals are expected to employ more RNs, but not as many as private doctors’ offices. Hospital care is getting very expensive for everyone involved, and fewer patients are spending more than a day or two in the hospital. Instead, they are being discharged faster, which negates the need for much nursing care. The best prospects for nurses are in sectors like geriatrics and surgery. Other good specializations include pediatrics, orthopedics, and rehabilitation.
The biggest obstacle to becoming an LPN or RN is getting into nursing school. These colleges are filling up so quickly that they simply do not have room for every qualified applicant. Moreover, there is a shortage of nursing faculty members. Classrooms can only hold so many students, and nursing classes fill up in a matter of days. If you manage to get into a degree program, you can rest assured that you will find a good job upon graduation, although you may have to be flexible about where you work.
In order to become an LPN or RN, you need to have either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing. Next, you need to pass the NCLEX exam, which is completely computer-based. You may have to answer up to 205 questions on the test. Since most of the questions are multiple-choice, you can click as fast or as slow as you are able, but you cannot change your answers. You can take your time on the NCLEX exam and then get your scores upon completion.
National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)
Registered nurses are valued medical professionals that do much of the work previously done by physicians. Nurses who have the RN license can do a wide variety of medical tasks, from drawing blood to assisting with surgery. The first step to becoming an RN is to get a nursing degree. Most community colleges offer classes in nursing due to the huge popularity of the career field. It is fast becoming one of the hottest careers to start. It offers flexibility, good pay, and an interesting work environment. In a matter of four years, a person can start working in a hospital as an RN.
The NCLEX-RN exam is divided into four “Client Needs” sections. These include effective and safe care, management of care, infection control, integrity, pharmacology, reduction of risk, and several others. The biggest categories on the test are about pharmacology, reducing risk, and management of care. Overall, “Client Needs” comprises the largest portion of the NCLEX-RN exam. The format is mixed; it has multiple-choice questions, graphs, pictures, and fill-in-the-blank questions.
- Section 1 is about “Safe, effective care” for all patients. The questions are further divided into categories like staff education, keeping confidentiality, managing caseloads, and ethics.
- Section 2 covers health maintenance and prevention of diseases. Topics include health screening, vaccinations, family planning, life style risks and behaviors, and overall wellness.
- Section 3 deals with “psychosocial integrity.” Subtopics include child abuse, stress, domestic violence, religion, grief, loss of family and loved ones, and diversity issues.
- Section 4 is about “physiological integrity,” meaning tests, therapies, hygiene, and nutrition.
The NCLEX-RN exam is computer-based, so you get your scores right away. Each test is individualized, since it uses a “Computerized Adaptive Testing.” If you answer a series of questions correctly, you will get harder questions. If you fail to answer questions correctly, the remaining questions get easier.
You may apply for the NCLEX-RN online or print out a paper application. Find out the fees and make the payment well ahead of your test date. If you are eligible to test, you will receive a letter in the mail (called an “Authorization to Test”). From there, you can set up your test date and pick a testing center that is convenient for you. The NCLEX-RN is given through Pearson VUE centers nationwide. Bring two forms of identification (with your photograph on them) to the testing center on your exam day. They may take your fingerprints or ask you to sign a form.
This particular NCLEX-RN exam is graded as a pass or fail. You will not get any breakdown of your scores. You must answer at least 75 questions correctly, with an upper limit of 265 questions answered.
This is a lot of information to absorb if you are just getting out of nursing school. This is why you should invest in some quality study tools like flashcards and study guides. These items are worth the money you will spend, since they will help you improve your NCLEX-RN scores.