LPN Degree, Diploma or Certificate – Which One Should You Chose?

Health care continues to be one industry that doesn’t seem to be affected by the economy, at least not as much. No matter what happens there will always be a need for people to care for the physical needs of others. The largest area of health care is nursing. Nursing staffs, made up of the following provide the majority of direct patient care:

  • Certified Nurses Aides (CNAs)
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs/LVNs)
  • Registered Nurses (RNs)
  • Nurse Practitioners (NPs)

Each level of nursing requires increased time and resources to obtain. Not everyone has the time, the money, or the desire to put into going from nothing to an NP in one fell swoop. To become an NP, one must first become an RN (at least 2 years) and obtain a BSN (4years) only then can you go on to acquire your MSN (2 years) and NP license (all dates are full time attendance). There are even rumors that some states will require NPs to have their PHDs that could take up to 4 years full time.

I certainly do not have the time, or the money, to attend classes full time for at least 6 years. I’m working towards it piecemeal. Currently I’m working on my BSN part time. The time will be longer before I complete what I’ve set out to do. I do have the time to care for my family and work as a nurse to pay for school, among other things. It may work out that I can never continue on, to either finish my BSN or become an NP. Nursing is so varied that I will be content just to have my license and be able to move through the various specialties.

If you’re just starting out, though, where do you begin? The information online and maybe through nursing friends mounds ever higher. You may not have the time to wade through and determine what information is useful and what is worthless. Many online sites claim to offer online LPN programs. I would advise you to avoid anything fully online for your first nursing courses. The classes are strenuous, clinicals are numerous and you will find more tailored help if you know your teacher face to face. Check these two websites, as well as your State Board of Nursing (BON), to determine if the school you are looking into allows you to sit for the NCLEX-PN:

From there you will be faced with the choice of pursuing a diploma, certificate, or degree. All require roughly one year of work, full time, or three semesters. If the school is approved by your state BON, you will be able to sit for your NCLEX-PN. Once licensed, the school you attended and how you obtained your LPN training really doesn’t matter. Health care facilities will only want to see you licensed in their state.

The only noticeable difference between the three lies in the fact that some of the extra classes from a degree program will be more likely to transfer if you decide to continue on in your education. Your license it self will cover many of the nursing classes you will need to take for a LPN to RN program. The few extra classes you might have to take from not having a degree might not make a big difference at all. Check with the school you are looking into obtaining your LPN education from, they might have program that will take you on to your RN easier than applying to another school.

The need for well trained nursing staff continues to grow. Currently there is a shortage of nurses, both LPN and RN. With LPNs acquiring their license in about a year, doing so is a faster way to start your practice as a nurse. Currently you can obtain your LPN with a diploma, certification, or degree. As long as the school is recognized by your state BON and you can sit for your NCLEX–PN. It does not matter which program you attend.

Last Modified: 12 Apr 2012