How To Become A Nurse In Louisiana

Nursing is a great career choice, no matter what level of nursing you decide to pursue. Becoming a nurse provides you with many options from becoming an LPN (Licensed Practicing Nurse) and providing basic nursing care to patients to a BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing), who can provide not only advanced care but work in nursing management as well. Depending on what you choose, you can plan to spend between one and four years in nursing school. If you are on a limited budget or need to work full-time and go to school, you can always start with your LPN license and work your way up after you gain employment in the medical field. No matter which type of nursing you plans to make your career, before you choose a school, make sure they are accredited by the State of Louisiana. If you want to become an LPN, you can contact the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners to attain a list of accredit schools in the state. If you plan to become an RN, you need to contact the Louisiana Board of Nursing and they will be able to provide you with an accredited list of schools in the State of Louisiana as well. Most community colleges and technical schools offer LPN training programs and are usually quite affordable. To attain your RN, you will have to attend a four-year college whether you plan to get an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in Nursing. The following will help you understand a little more of what is involved in becoming a nurse; including getting your state license and what your job will be once you are licensed.

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

LPN training requires between 12 and 18 months of education. If you are able to go to school full-time you will be able to complete it in one year, part-time you can usually complete the training in a year and a half. You must complete your training at a school that is accredited by the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners. Once you complete your training successfully and pass all required courses with the minimum grades, you are then able to take your licensing exam. The exam to become an LPN is the NCLEX-PN, or National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. The exam consists of four sections that test your knowledge on the Safe Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psychological Integrity and Physiological Integrity. You must pass all sections in order to pass the entire exam successfully and attain your license.

Working as an LPN provides you nursing experience, but your scope of practice, or care you are allowed to perform, is very limited. While each state maintains their own limitations for an LPN’s scope of practice, a majority require an LPN to attain specialized training in order to pass medication and provide IV therapy. While the job duties are limited, it still gives you the chance to experience what working in the nursing field is like before you invest four years in college only to find out it is not for you. Depending on where you work, you may be able to attain the additional training to pass medications and perform IV therapy through your place of employment. Any care that an LPN performs is done under the direct supervision of at least and RN or someone of higher licensure than an LPN.

RN (Registered Nurse)

If you are already working in the nursing field as a nursing assistant or even LPN and want to be able to provide more advanced care, you can attend school to become an RN. In Louisiana, you can become an RN or Registered Nurse or APRN, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. An RN has completed their education to the Associate’s Degree level and can be considered a Registered Nurse, whereas an APRN has completed either their Bachelor’s or Master’s in nursing and is considered at the highest level of Nursing capacity in the State of Louisiana. Before you attend school to become an RN, you again want to contact the Louisiana Board of Nursing and obtain a list of accredited schools in your state that provide RN training. You can also research local hospitals to see if they have a nursing school and provide RN training. In most cases if the school of nursing is attached to a hospital, there is no need to check that it is accredited, as it must be to operate in a hospital environment. The advantage of attending a hospital-based nursing school is that you have daily “real-world” training and are in the medical environment at all times. The disadvantage is that these schools are usually very elite and only accept a small number of students for their programs each year. As with LPN licensing, no matter where you go to school, you must take a state exam to attain your license. The test for RNs is called the NCLEX-RN and contains the same four segments as the test for an LPN, but obviously tests you on your specific level of education.

Working as an RN or APRN has a much larger scope of practice than that of an LPN. Whereas LPNs must follow a set of procedures that have no variation from start to finish, an RN has a set of procedures that requires decision-making throughout. They are required to assess patients, plan their care and use their professional judgment in many tasks that they perform. They are also responsible for overseeing LPNs and those with lower nursing degrees.

Becoming an RN or APRN – Associate’s versus Bachelor’s degrees

If you decide to become an RN, you have a few options of the level of RN training you wish to obtain. You can work as an RN with and associate’s degree or as an APRN with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. While they are all able to provide the same levels of care, an APRN has more of an opportunity to go into a specific field of nursing. For example if you want to work in general nursing and have the skills to work in any department of a hospital, you can do so as either an RN or APRN. If you want to work in a specific department such as Pediatrics or Geriatrics, you will need to attain your Bachelor’s or Master’s to become an APRN. Working as an APRN also gives you the opportunity to do more than just patient care including working in nursing and health care management.

No matter what level of nursing you are at, you must keep your skills and knowledge up to date in order to maintain your license. This requires training called Continuing Education or CE credits. Most places of employment offer you the opportunity to attain your monthly CE requirements on-site, or you can find websites that allow you to take these CE courses online. They do not take long and are necessary to renew your license every two years.

Nursing Schools in Louisiana

While the LPN program is offered at a majority of technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges in Louisiana, the following schools are based on those attending for an RN or APRN degree.

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Nursing School Locations

Baton Rouge General Medical Center
School of Nursing
3600 Florida Boulevard
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Phone: (225) 387-7000

Louisiana State University
Division of Nursing & Health Sciences
1900 Gravier Street, 4th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70112
Phone: 504-568-4106

Louisiana Tech University – Division of Nursing
P. O. Box 3152
Ruston, LA 71272
Phone: (318) 257-4287

Loyola University – New Orleans
School of Nursing
6363 St. Charles Ave.
Campus Box 45
New Orleans, LA 70118
Phone: (504) 865-3142

Grambling State University
School of Nursing
403 Main St.
Grambling, LA 71245
800-569-4714

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