by Lea Terry
Licensed practical nurses are needed everywhere, from long-term care facilities to hospitals to doctors’ offices, says Debra Kamphouse, lead teacher and assistant director of the health careers center at Metro Technology Centers.
As with any nursing career, the employment opportunities for LPNs are plentiful.
"Many people go into nursing because they know they are going to be able to find work," Kamphouse said.
"Because there is a nursing shortage, there are jobs out there. It may not always be what they want initially, but they do find work."
Metro Tech has two practical nursing programs: the traditional program, which has a daytime and an evening section, and a One Plus One program, which allows students to complete their LPN program one year, and then transfer to a community college to continue on to an RN program.
The daytime program lasts 12 months and is full time; the evening program lasts 15 months, and meets from 3 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Each of the three sections accepts 24 students, and with 72 students enrolled currently, the program is at 100 percent enrollment.
The school is seeing both an increasing interest in nursing, and an increase in the diversity of nursing students, Kamphouse said.
The average age of students is about 32 or 33, she said, and many are pursuing nursing as their second career. More men are also enrolling in the program.
By pursuing a nursing career, students help both patients and themselves, Kamphouse said.
"The reward is in helping people, and knowing when you go home that you made a difference in someone’s life," she said. "The income is good, so they’re bettering their lives and providing a good income for their families. And then, knowing you made it through the program, so the feeling of satisfaction and success is there also."
Metro Tech offers students a supportive environment with top-notch instructors, Kamphouse said.
"All of our faculty either have a master’s degree in nursing, or they’re working on one. We have very qualified faculty," she said. "There’s also great support from our administration, and we have great supplies and equipment. Career technology centers really provide financial support as well as emotional support."
One of the most important steps in pursuing a nursing education is doing your homework - before you ever even step inside a classroom, Kamphouse said. Students need to be familiar with the role and responsibilities of nurses, so they can be certain this is the career for them.
"Once you’re in school, your time is spent, you really have to study hard and apply yourself," she said. "If they are not really familiar with what nurses do, then I would say do some research. Know for sure this is what you want."
At Metro Tech, nursing students also need to complete some prerequisites, including medical terminology and CPR for healthcare providers. Whatever school a student chooses, it’s wise to contact them before applying, Kamphouse said.
"They should contact the school to see what they need to do to be competitive, because the nursing program is very competitive; practical nursing as well as registered nursing," she said. "By contacting the school they can see what they need to do or what they can do to make themselves more competitive."
Metro Tech’s LPN program is held at its Springlake campus in Oklahoma City. For more information, call 424-8324 or visit www.metrotech.org.