SHREVEPORT – Before licensed practical nurses don their traditional white garb and take the Florence Nightingale oath, the journey begins with a single step. Twenty-five LPN students reported for orientation at LSUS this past week, officially starting a one-year whirlwind in which each student will log 1,540 combined hours of theoretical and practical nursing. These nursing hopefuls aim to be one of the nearly 600 LPN graduates that LSUS has produced since the program began in 2008, a program approved by the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nursing that’s churned out coveted nurses to help alleviate the nursing shortage.
“I get calls all the time from healthcare facilities in Shreveport looking for LSUS graduates – we produce the best in town,” Glenda Poole, director of the LSUS PN program, told the assembled students at orientation. “Our graduates are actively sought after, and we’ll get a lot of facilities that come and speak to our students about job opportunities and incentives about six weeks ahead of graduation. We prepare professional, highly competent nurses.”
A glance at the job-seeking website Indeed revealed 162 positions for LPNs in the Shreveport area with starting pay advertised around $25 per hour. With the average age of nurses in Louisiana surpassing 50 years old, the profession is constantly seeking new faces as more and more nurses reach retirement age in an industry already plagued by shortages. Poole said LSUS graduates work in a range of medical settings, including physician’s offices, hospitals, and assisted living facilities.
In its one-year condensed format, the LSUS LPN program feels like a full-time job.
Nursing candidates will participate in theoretical training in the classroom from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. before putting their knowledge to work in the field, attending clinicals from 6:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. in the second portion of the program. Extra time must be set aside for assignments and studying. Students will complete work in areas like geriatric health, surgical nursing, women’s and baby’s health, pediatrics, and pharmacology among others.
Each student must pass the NCLEX-PN, the national licensing exam. LSUS has maintained a 100 percent pass rate in the program.
“It’s an extraordinarily difficult program in that you’re absorbing all of this information and getting all of these practical experiences within one year,” said Dennis Wissing, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “But this staff cares, and our students enjoy this experience.” Experienced registered nurses make up the LSUS staff, and Poole said that around half of the LPN graduates at LSUS will pursue further education at some point in their careers.
“Because our faculty does have a lot of years of nursing experience, this enables them to be very innovative in their teaching,” Poole said. “We have a recently created simulation lab that utilizes some of the best simulation technology to assist our students in learning how to care for clients. Our graduates say they’ve felt very prepared in the workforce and when they work toward more advanced nursing degrees.”
Classes start each January and August with the application process occurring a few months before the class start date. To learn more about the LSUS LPN program, visit https://www.lsus.edu/academics/undergraduate-programs/nursing-lpn-certification.