Nursing Degrees That Lead To The Practical Nurse License (LPN)

by TheCommuter Senior Moderator

8,811 Views | 20 Comments

Many individuals, including nurses, make uninformed comments such as, "LPNs don't have degrees." The purpose of this article is to dispel a few misconceptions regarding practical nursing education in the United States. Contrary to popular beliefs, many LPNs have earned degrees just like their RN counterparts.

  1. 11

    Nursing Degrees That Lead To The Practical Nurse License (LPN)

    I am assured that some of you have overheard healthcare workers, colleagues, classmates, or members of the public make one of the following statements at one time or another: "The LPN is a only a certificate program." "LPNs do not have degrees." "Why don't they just become RNs?"

    Many pervasive misconceptions exist regarding the education and training of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in the United States. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a licensed practical nurse is defined as a person who has undergone training and obtained a license to provide routine care to the sick. Each LPN's scope of practice is heavily dependent on the state where he/she practices. Some states permit LPNs to practice under a wide scope of practice; on the other hand, other states place weighty restrictions on their practice.

    A person who wishes to train to become a licensed practical nurse may select from three educational pathways. Certificate/diploma programs, associate degree programs, and successful challenging of the state boards are the three primary ways in which one may enter this rewarding profession in the U.S.

    The first (and most popular) method of entry into a practical nursing career is the completion of a state-approved program that results in a certificate or diploma upon graduation. In fact, the vast majority of LPNs in the United States have been trained at the certificate/diploma level. These types of programs are offered at community colleges, vocational schools, technical colleges, adult education centers, and private for-profit institutions of higher learning. Graduates of certificate/diploma programs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), which is the exam that leads to state licensure as a practical nurse.

    The second pathway to a practical nursing career is the completion of a state-approved program that leads to an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in practical nursing. Many people are unaware that some LPNs have earned associate degrees. Associate degree programs are typically offered at community colleges and technical colleges. Graduates of associate degree programs must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) before licensure as a practical nurse will be granted. Click on the link below to read about the curriculum and requirements associated with a typical AAS degree program in practical nursing:
    https://northseattle.edu/career/degr...ing-aas-degree

    Finally, very few states allow qualified individuals with many years of experience as military medics or certified nursing assistants to challenge the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) in lieu of completing a practical nursing program. Persons with acceptable experience who pass the NCLEX-PN will be issued state licensure that permits them to secure employment as practical nurses. People who select this method might find it impossible to obtain nursing licensure in other states via the endorsement process because they have not completed formal training programs.

    The licensed practical nurse is a trained professional who contributes added value to healthcare in America. Please do not be afraid to correct the next person who makes a false statement regarding the education and training of LPNs. Together we are capable of clearing up the misconceptions that surround practical nursing in the United States. Each person must do their part to eradicate the myths.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 16, '12
    shudva, NRSKarenRN, livvymk3, and 8 others like this.
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  3. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 26,906 Likes: 37,857; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website


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    20 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    Well said
    TheCommuter and jadelpn like this.
  5. 1
    Very clear and well-written! Thank you!
    TheCommuter likes this.
  6. 1
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I am assured that some of you have overheard healthcare workers, colleagues, classmates, or members of the public make one of the following statements at one time or another: "The LPN is a only a certificate program." "LPNs do not have degrees." "Why don't they just become RNs?"

    Many pervasive misconceptions exist regarding the education and training of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in the United States. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a licensed practical nurse is defined as a person who has undergone training and obtained a license to provide routine care to the sick. Each LPN's scope of practice is heavily dependent on the state where he/she practices. Some states permit LPNs to practice under a wide scope of practice; on the other hand, other states place weighty restrictions on their practice.

    A person who wishes to train to become a licensed practical nurse may select from three educational pathways. Certificate/diploma programs, associate degree programs, and successful challenging of the state boards are the three primary ways in which one may enter this rewarding profession in the U.S.

    The first (and most popular) method of entry into a practical nursing career is the completion of a state-approved program that results in a certificate or diploma upon graduation. In fact, the vast majority of LPNs in the United States have been trained at the certificate/diploma level. These types of programs are offered at community colleges, vocational schools, technical colleges, adult education centers, and private for-profit institutions of higher learning. Graduates of certificate/diploma programs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), which is the exam that leads to state licensure as a practical nurse.

    The second pathway to a practical nursing career is the completion of a state-approved program that leads to an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in practical nursing. Many people are unaware that some LPNs have earned associate degrees. Associate degree programs are typically offered at community colleges and technical colleges. Graduates of associate degree programs must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) before licensure as a practical nurse will be granted. Click on the link below to read about the curriculum and requirements associated with a typical AAS degree program in practical nursing:
    https://northseattle.edu/career/degr...ing-aas-degree

    Finally, very few states allow qualified individuals with many years of experience as military medics or certified nursing assistants to challenge the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) in lieu of completing a practical nursing program. Persons with acceptable experience who pass the NCLEX-PN will be issued state licensure that permits them to secure employment as practical nurses. People who select this method might find it impossible to obtain nursing licensure in other states via the endorsement process because they have not completed formal training programs.

    The licensed practical nurse is a trained professional who contributes added value to healthcare in America. Please do not be afraid to correct the next person who makes a false statement regarding the education and training of LPNs. Together we are capable of clearing up the misconceptions that surround practical nursing in the United States. Each person must do their part to eradicate the myths.




    Thank you, Commuter!
    mc3
    TheCommuter likes this.
  7. 4
    I stumbled upon yet another post this morning where the member firmly mentions, "LPN is not a degree." The same person also insisted that practical nursing degree programs do not exist.

    Contrary to popular notions, multiple community colleges, state universities, and technical colleges offer the associate of applied science (AAS) degree program in practical nursing.

    The LPN is a professional in his/her own right and people really need to give them the respect and trust that they deserve.
    Red35, anniv91106, steffuturelpn, and 1 other like this.
  8. 1
    Thank you! I was an LPN for 8 years before getting my RN and still hate it when people don't give the LPN's the credit they deserve!
    steffuturelpn likes this.
  9. 1
    I really appreciate your words. Thank you.
    steffuturelpn likes this.
  10. 1
    Very informative post. I am one who will receive an associate's degree when I graduate from the lpn program I was accepted into.
    steffuturelpn likes this.
  11. 0
    Is there a thread listing the states that allow the challenge option?
  12. 0
    Very well written and understood!


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