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What Are the Different Types of LPN Online Degree Programs?

By Susan Abe
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A licensed practical nurse (LPN) must typically complete a program of study and pass a licensing examination as a prerequisite to employment. The term LPN online degree programs leads a prospective student to believe that she can obtain an LPN degree via an educational Internet site. This term is misleading; in the US, there is no LPN "degree" to earn, and the education required and undertaken to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or an LPN results in the award of a certificate, not a degree. Further, there is no single online program that will award an LPN certificate from classes taken entirely on the Internet; nursing studies require a significant degree of supervised work in a clinical setting.

LPN online degree programs should perhaps be considered online LPN programs. Typically, LPN programs are offered by community colleges, vocational training schools and some hospitals. Depending upon the specific institution and the requirements of the state in which it is located, one or more classes may be offered online. These classes are usually limited either those required to demonstrate a general ability to perform the program — such as basic mathematics — or to classes unrelated to actual hands-on clinical skills, such as medical terminology. Thus, neither community colleges, vocational training schools nor hospitals offers LPN online degree programs entirely over the Internet.

The closest study activity that approximates LPN online degree programs is enrollment in a community college — with some online classes — offering a certificate after completion of LPN or LVN studies. As noted above, however, there is no online substitute yet offered for successful completion of patient-related clinical classes. This restriction is not simply one of a school's ability to offer a particular class. Rather, individual states and their collective boards of nursing require successful graduation from both an accredited institution and offering an approved program. State nursing boards are understandably leery of approving online classes requiring a degree of practice and expertise in the interests of patient safety.

A second type of educational arrangement that might approximate LPN online degree programs would be a currently licensed LPN who either enrolls in a community college to earn her associate's degree in nursing or a college to earn her bachelor's degree in the field. Successful completion of either program would eventually award the LPN student with a degree in nursing and the ability to practice as a registered nurse (RN). If the institution at which the LPN enrolls for her studies offers online classes, she would certainly be able to enroll and study available online classes this way. Again, however, completion of the program will require some classes with face-to-face interaction as the art and science of nursing requires some skills only required in the real world.

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