How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in Alabama
Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, are responsible for providing care to people who are chronically ill or disabled, or people who need healthcare over a long period of time. They may also assist Registered Nurses and physicians in providing routine health care. Some LPNs work as school nurses.
An LPN is at a higher level than a nursing assistant, but this is the lowest licensure of nursing. LPNs often work in nursing homes or assisted living facilities or as home health nurses. They also work in hospitals. LPN duties are often determined by the training they have received and their employer. If they have received any training in addition to a basic educational program, they may have more responsibilities. Some tasks, including administering IV medication and intubation, require Board approval before a nurse can practice them.
Requirements for Becoming an LPN and Licensure in Alabama
If you are interested in becoming an LPN in the state of Alabama, the first step is to enroll in and complete a nursing program. These educational programs usually consist of one year of classes and clinical practice combined. Once you have completed a program, you can apply for licensure. A state nursing license can be obtained through the Alabama Board of Nursing (ABN).
To apply for licensure through the Board, you must apply by submitting your nursing school transcripts and paying an application fee. You must also register to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). You must pass the exam before state licensure will be awarded. You will receive Authorization to Test (ATT) from the Board, which you must present when you arrive to take the NCLEX. An exam fee will also apply. In Alabama, testing centers for the NCLEX are located in Birmingham, Dothan, Mobile and Montgomery. Once you have passed your NCLEX you will receive state licensure.
Alabama LPNs must renew their license every two years, on odd years. To renew your license, you must pay a renewal fee, show proof of employment and have completed 24 hours of continued education during the two-year period that you were previously licensed.
If you have been licensed in another state, you may apply to become an LPN by endorsement. You will pay an application fee and must provide nursing school transcripts, proof of state licensure in another state and proof that you have completed the continued education requirements to keep your license current.
Nursing Programs in Alabama
If you are interested in becoming an LPN in the state, your first step will be completing a nursing program. Most colleges and universities will offer associate’s and bachelor’s degree nursing programs, while community colleges will offer nursing programs that can be completed in one year. This is all the education you will need to become an LPN. Here is an overview of some of the nursing programs available in Alabama:
- Coastal Alabama Community College. Coastal Alabama Community College (CACC) has campuses in Bay Minette, Brewton, Fairhope, Monroeville and Thomasville. All locations offer a nursing program. You will fill out one application that will apply to all programs. You can specify a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice for which campus you would like to attend, unless a student must attend a certain campus because of distance. Once accepted into the program, the student must complete the program at the campus where they started the program. This is a full-time, five-semester program. Students may complete the entire program to receive an Associate Degree in Nursing and go on to become a Registered Nurse (RN), or they may apply to become an LPN after completing three semesters. The CACC nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and approved by the ABN.
- Bevill State Community College. The Hamilton and Jasper campuses of BSCC offer nursing programs. The program consists of five semesters, but the student can sit for the NCLEX and apply to become an LPN after the third semester. This program consists of general education and nursing classes. This is a competitive program and admission will depend upon the number of teachers and clinical locations available for that semester.
- Wallace Community College- Selma. The Selma campus of Wallace Community College offers a three-semester LPN program. This program consists of 46 credit hours of general education and nursing courses combined. Students will learn in a classroom setting as well as a clinical setting. This program is accredited by the ACEN and approved by the ABN.
Alabama LPN Career and Salary Outlook
According to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), there were 13,370 LPNs working in the state of Alabama in 2016. The profession is predicted to see a 7.3 percent increase by the year 2026 in the state, meaning approximately 14,350 LPNs should be working in Alabama by then.
The pay for nurses is good in Alabama as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that LPNs in the state were earning an hourly average of $17.71 and an annual average of $36,830 in 2017. The highest earning nurses in the state make as much as $48,130 annually.
Working as an LPN in Alabama
The United States is currently experiencing a nursing shortage, meaning now is the time to become an LPN in Alabama if you are interested. As an LPN in the state, expect to find work in doctors’ offices, home health agencies, hospitals and nursing homes. You may also work as a nursing supervisor, managing nursing assistants. You may choose to remain an LPN or to further your education and work toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. You could then become a Registered Nurse or even go on to become a Nurse Practitioner.
Nursing opportunities are available throughout the state, but Birmingham currently employs the most nurses. Other cities with high employment rates for LPNs included Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa.