Becoming an LPN is an excellent way for teenagers and young adults to prepare for future registered nurse (RN) careers. However, specific age requirements for LPNs vary by employer.
How Old Do You Need to Be to Become an LPN?
Depending on the laws of your state, you might have to be 18 or older to qualify for LPN jobs in your area. Even if there are no legal age requirements for these healthcare professionals, most medical facilities prefer to hire candidates who are at least 18.
Underage applicants might be able to find CNA jobs at a local clinic or nursing home and work their way up to an LPN position by the time they turn 18.
What Do LPNs Do?
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), provide essential patient care in hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. Their duties include:
- Monitoring patients’ vital signs
- Performing basic wound care and applying bandages
- Obtaining EKG readings
- Administering injections and oral, topical, and, in some states, IV medications
- Collecting blood and fluid samples for testing
- Helping patients bathe, dress, and groom themselves as needed
LPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses and perform many of the same duties as the RN. However, an LPN cannot prescribe medications or perform initial assessments or unsupervised diagnostic tests.
What Qualifications Do LPNs Need?
In order to qualify for an LPN job, you must have an official license from your state’s department of nursing. Like many nursing certifications, earning this credential involves completing an accredited training program and passing the NCLEX licensing exam for LPNs.
Many trade schools and community colleges offer training courses for aspiring LPNs. During these programs, students take classes on basic nursing care techniques, as well as:
- Medical Terminology
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Basic Biology and Chemistry
Before taking your state board’s LPN exam, you must complete Basic Life Support (BLS) training to become certified in CPR, AED, and first aid. Some school programs include these classes in the curriculum, but you can also take them through the American Heart Association or the Red Cross.
How Long Does it Take to Become an LPN?
Most LPN programs are about one year long and include traditional classroom instruction and hands-on training at local medical facilities. If you hope to become an RN one day, you might consider taking an 18-month or two-year course to gain a deeper understanding of the nursing field.
Training for Underage Hopefuls
Young teens who hope to become LPNs when they turn 18 might be able to gain experience through vocational allied health programs at their high school. Otherwise, they can volunteer at their neighborhood clinic or nursing facility.