How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Tennessee

Would you be interested in a job in which you help people daily? Are you interested in a career in healthcare but don’t want to spend a lot of time or money on medical school? If you answered yes to either or both, then you should consider becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN, in Tennessee.

LPNs typically do the same work as Registered Nurses (RNs) depending on the state. Generally, RNs will have more duties and LPNs are often supervised by RNs. LPN duties are determined by their state nursing board. Usually, they will monitor a patient’s vital signs and condition and report changes to an RN or doctor. They may also administer medications, insert catheters and change bandages. Depending on where they work, LPNs may also assist patients with personal tasks such as bathing and dressing.

Practical Nursing License Requirements in Tennessee

To become licensed in Tennessee, you must be a high school graduate or have a GED. Then you must enroll in an educational program at a college in the state. This program must be approved by the Tennessee State Board of Nursing. Practical Nursing programs can usually be completed within a year. Then you can apply through the State Board for a license and register to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Once you have passed the NCLEX, you will receive your license. You will have to pay an application and exam fee.

You must renew your practical license every four years. To renew your license, you must complete two of the following:

  • Submit an evaluation completed by your employer
  • Submit an evaluation from a peer
  • Submit a positive letter from a patient
  • Renew a nursing contract
  • Submit a self-evaluation that is line with state competency standards
  • Describe how you have met two nursing goals in the time between renewals
  • Show proof of volunteer hours in addition to working as a nurse
  • Show proof of at least five hours of continued education
  • Publish a nursing article
  • Complete a refresher course in nursing
  • Complete a comprehensive nursing orientation program
  • Retake and pass the NCLEX

LPN Programs in Tennessee

There are several practical nursing programs in the state that are approved by the Tennessee State Board of Nursing. Below is an overview of a couple of the choices:

  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology. TCAT has more than a dozen campuses in the state including locations in Jackson, Memphis and Nashville. Their Practical Nursing program is full-time and can be completed in 12 months. Graduates will receive a diploma and will be eligible to take the NCLEX and apply for state licensure.
  • Chattanooga State Community College. The program offered at Chattanooga State in Chattanooga, TN, prepares nursing students to take the NCLEX. This is a limited enrollment program with only a select number of students admitted each semester. The program can be completed within a year, or three semesters. Graduates will receive a diploma in Practical Nursing.
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Employment and Salary Expectations

According to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), the employment rate for LPNs is growing at a rate of 12 percent nationally. In Tennessee, the number of LPNs working in the state is predicted to increase by 17.8 percent in the next few years. Furthermore, the state ranks fourth in the United States for the highest concentration of LPN jobs.

In 2017, Tennessee LPNs were making an average of $18.71 an hour or $38,910 yearly, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest earners in the state were making an average of $49,630 that same year.

Finding Work as an LPN in Tennessee

LPNs often work in hospitals or nursing homes. They may also work for home health agencies, caring for patients who need long-term assistance or have been released to home care to rest comfortably. Physicians’ offices and schools also employ LPNs.

In Tennessee, the highest concentration of jobs can be found in Jackson and Johnson City. The highest paying cities are Clarksville, Memphis and Nashville. Other areas of the state that have high employment rates include Chattanooga, Knoxville and Murfreesboro.

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How much do licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earn in the state of Tennessee?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in the state of Tennessee made an average of $41,270 per year in 2019. Entry-level licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earned around $32,020 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $51,320.

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