Guest Blog from Jennifer Smith
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) play some of the most vital roles in our healthcare system today. They are responsible for a wide range of patient care, including dressing wounds, giving injections, monitoring temperature and heart rate, and gathering patient information. Some LPNs are even responsible for performing laboratory test and assisting in an infant’s delivery. While most LPNs work in hospitals and other major healthcare centers, many are also employed in nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and home care capacities.
According to estimates compiled by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 728,670 people employed in the country as licensed practical nurses. While this number may sound high, the Bureau of Labor predicts a significant demand for LPNs in the medium-term future. This prediction fits well with other estimates that highlight the country’s shortfall of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners. The United States has a growing yet aging population and an educational system that makes a healthcare career difficult for many people to pursue. The end result is that nursing jobs stand to remain in high demand for some time.
In light of this, many people are going back to school and taking accredited online lpn programs in order to become a licensed practical nurse. While LPN programs are certainly offered at traditional colleges and vocational schools, the online route is particularly appealing for those who have family obligations, financial constraints, and jobs that they don’t want to quit. Their decision is further strengthened by the quality of online nursing degrees; over the past several years, the top providers of an online nursing education have invested in strengthening and diversifying their options. Top school such as Kaplan University, Jacksonville University, South University, and the University of Phoenix now offer degrees that are fully online, that can equip students with a wide range of specialized opportunities and resources, and that are taught by skilled practitioners in the field. LPN courses at these schools routinely fill up quickly as a result.
If you’re considering becoming an LPN, how can you determine whether an online program is right for you? How can you decide whether a traditional or an online course makes more sense for your current needs as well as your career goals?
To answer these questions, let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls and advantages of taking an accredited online LPN program:
Pitfalls of Online LPN Programs:
- There will be little to no hands-on clinical training
- Students and instructors don’t have the benefit of face-to-face interactions
- A lack of classroom collaboration may leave students less prepared for the team environment in which most LPNs work
- While setting your own study schedule has its advantages, being able to go through the program at your own pace may be problematic for students who are lacking in self-discipline
Advantages of Online LPN Programs:
-The curriculum in an online LPN program is almost identical to that of a traditional program
-Students can set their own pace for assignments and exams, making the course a less stressful experience
-The ability to work from home and on their own time affords students the ability to maintain jobs and family obligations
-Students save money by paying less in tuition and by forgoing the cost of expensive textbooks
-Presentation and lecture materials are usually well-organized, virtually available, and easily accessible
-Online learning can lead to faster rates of comprehension, according to a study from Carnegie Mellon University
-Online universities often have better reputations and excellence standards than the average community college
These are the main pitfalls and advantages to keep in mind when considering an online LPN degree. Ultimately, the decision should be based upon your unique circumstances and goals. If you feel as though you can handle the lack of a physical learning experience, the flexibility, availability, and affordability of an online course are certainly hard to match.