How to Become a Vocational Nurse: Steps, Training, and Requirements

How to Become a Vocational Nurse: Steps, Training, and Requirements

If you’re considering joining the ranks of nurses, there’s a growing demand in the licensed vocational nurse profession. In fact, by 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 66,000 U.S.  openings for such a position, atop the more than 1.3 million currently employed.

Vocational nurses are healthcare professionals who provide nursing care and are usually supervised by registered nurses. If you are looking forward to stepping into this profession, read this blog.

Through the medium of this blog, we will guide you on your journey of becoming a vocational nurse, including the steps, training, and requirements.

Steps to Becoming a Vocational Nurse

Similar to a licensed practical nurse, a licensed vocational nurse attends school for one or two years. Once certified, you’re qualified to provide care in varying medical environments. Requisite classes vary by school as well as by program requirements of each state’s nursing board.

Still, you can expect to take courses such as nursing fundamentals, human anatomy, medication management, and disease processes. There also may be classes in geriatrics or mental health nursing.

  • Educational Requirements – High School Diploma or Equivalent and Vocation Nursing Program: Before you can start a vocational nurse training program, you’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent, i.e., a GED certificate. If you’re still in school, it’s a good idea to take advanced science courses in addition to math, English, and psychology classes. Vocational nurse training programs, offered in person as well as online, are available at public and private institutions.
  • Licensing and Certification – NCLEX-PN Exam & State Licensing Requirements: The final step before getting a job as a vocational nurse is taking and passing the in-person National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) PN, offered to students in the U.S. and Canada for around $200.

Advance registration is required, and nursing candidates can prepare by studying materials specific to the exam as well as training program materials. Note that each state has its own licensing requirements, which may include certain class, test scores, and a criminal background check.

Exploring Vocational Nursing Programs

Vocational nurse programs are commonly offered by vocational and technical schools as well as by community and junior colleges. They usually last a year and include both supervised clinical practice and classroom study. Each school is different in terms of how class schedules are structured, so it’s a good idea to consider the time commitment you’ll be making.

Essential Skills and Qualities for Vocational Nurses

The responsibilities of a licensed vocational nurse vary according to the work setting, but in general, you’ll be charged with providing basic nursing care and monitoring patients’ health. You might also perform patient assessments and observe their vital signs.

At times, you’ll also be asked to help patients with tasks such as bathing and dressing, changing bandages, and inserting and monitoring catheters. As a licensed vocational nurse, you also may have to supervise other healthcare personnel such as nurse’s assistants and aides. Administrative tasks can include the completion of insurance forms and management of patient records.

In addition to skilled nursing facilities, a licensed vocational nurse can also work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and surgery facilities—in addition to retirement communities and patients’ homes. Working as a vocational nurse, critical thinking and communication skills are important. The ability to demonstrate compassion and empathy for patients is important, too. You’ll also need physical stamina and emotional resilience to withstand what can be taxing shifts.

Clinical Training and Experience

Students must apply specifically for vocational nurse training, completing the varying requisites and application procedures, depending on the location. The best way to see what you’ll need in your area is to check online or with your local community college for training programs. Understand that some of your weekends will be spent practicing practical skills at clinics.

Licensing and Certification Process

  • NCLEX-PN Examination: Exam Overview and Prep Tips: Every state requires passage of this standardized licensure test, which allows you to work as a vocational nurse where you reside. The exam tests skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary for the effective and safe practice of entry-level nursing.

It’s important for nursing candidates to prepare for the test by going over textbooks, lectures, and practice questions. Get a good night’s sleep before taking the exam, and eat a proper breakfast that morning.

  • State Licensing Requirements – Application Process & Continuing Education: Licensing requirements vary by state. In general, applicants must:
    • Undergo a criminal background check
    • Satisfactorily answer “good moral character” questions
    • Receive training about human trafficking
    • Undergo implicit bias training

Applicants for re-licensure must submit proof of having completed 25 hours of continuing education in board-approved courses and programs. It includes at least two hours of pain and symptom management.

Career Opportunities and Advancement

A licensed vocational nurse can enhance their nursing career options and earning prospects by registering for what’s called an LVN to RN program. Such programs usually require at least two years at their current facility. Note that some LVNs opt to specialize in specific areas such as pediatric, geriatric, dialysis, or psychiatric.

Choosing the Suitable Vocational Nurse Jobs

If you feel you can thrive in a very rewarding, albeit fast-paced, environment that requires you to think on your feet and make swift decisions, a career as a vocational nurse may be for you. You’ll also need the right personal qualities, as well as the skills, to succeed over the long haul. Be mindful that steps to become a licensed vocation nurse will take a time commitment.

Wanderly’s primary mission is to help you land the best licensed vocational nurse assignments for you. With an outstanding reputation for placing medical professionals, Wanderly makes it easy for healthcare professionals to compare travel healthcare jobs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What’s the difference between a registered nurse and a vocational nurse?

The primary difference is a vocational nurse requires less formal training and is supervised by a registered nurse. While they perform similar tasks, licensed vocational nurses generally don’t have the same responsibilities as RNs.

  1. How much can I expect to make as a licensed vocational nurse?

Salaries can range from about $45,000 annually all the way to $88,000 for a licensed vocational nurse.

  1. In what setting is a licensed vocational nurse likely to be employed?

Most licensed vocational nurse jobs are in healthcare settings such as rehabilitation centers, hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices.

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