How to Prepare for Vocational Nursing School

Tips for Surviving VN School: Expectations, Requirements, and Challenges

Two Asian nurses with clipboards

Vocational Nurses (VNs) provide patients with quality care and work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a physician. They are the unsung heroes who provide vital support to countless hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country. While Vocational Nursing school comes with its own unique set of challenges, it is a necessary experience that can be rewarding and prepare you for the future.

Our guide will teach you everything you need to know about Vocational Nursing school, including all the tips, tricks, and resources you’ll need to start this path with complete confidence. Continue reading to learn about the benefits, requirements, and challenges that go along with nursing training and enrollment into a VN program.

If you’re still looking to apply to a Vocational Nursing school, click here to learn more about the Vocational Nursing program at Unitek College.

Why Become a Vocational Nurse?

Not only do Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) provide an invaluable service, but they often benefit from job stability, decent salaries, and career satisfaction. In addition, LVNs spend less time in school than RNs. Many LVN programs can be completed in just one year, allowing you to start your dream career as quickly as possible.

Overall, LVNs receive valuable exposure and experience. They work alongside doctors and RNs and make a difference in the lives of their patients. At the end of the day, healthcare careers are all about helping others.

Click here to learn more about how to become a Vocational Nurse.

Find the Right Vocational Nursing Program for You

Now that you’ve decided to pursue Vocational Nursing, the next step is to find the best program for you. There are several questions you should consider when searching for a VN program. In your research, you should gather as much information as possible about your selection criteria, including cost, length, location, accreditation, and certification opportunities.

Furthermore, the best Vocational Nursing program should be tailored to your individual needs. For example, some students may prefer smaller class sizes. In contrast, others might place more value on time set aside for clinical externships or benefit from a large university setting. Before enrolling anywhere, don’t be afraid to ask questions when meeting with admissions representatives.

Here are some sample questions you could ask when applying for VN school:

  • What are the tuition costs and financial aid options?
  • What are the academic prerequisites?
  • How long does it take to complete the program?
  • What specific topics are covered?
  • Are there any clinical externships or simulations?
  • What percentage of students graduate?
  • What percentage of graduates find employment?

How to Get Into Vocational Nursing School

Depending on each school’s admissions requirements, many VN programs will have a unique set of obligations and prerequisites. Make sure you check the school’s website or speak with an admissions representative to understand their entry requirements better.

If you don’t want to spend years in school, a Vocational Nursing diploma might be your preferred choice. The VN program at Unitek can be completed in as little as 12 months. The goal is to equip you with the right skill sets to help advance your career. Unlike a degree program, your coursework typically won’t include general education courses. Instead, the curriculum tends to focus more on nursing tasks.

Asian healthcare professional outside facility

Bonus Option: ASVN Degree

If you’d like to build on your future education, you might want to go the extra mile by pursuing an associate degree. In California, you can typically earn a Vocational Nursing degree within a year, though you must complete a VN program first. For instance, the ASVN program at Unitek College can be completed in as little as ten months (again, you must complete a VN program first). This path can lay the groundwork for a higher-level degree, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing.

What Are the Vocational Nursing School Prerequisites?

Most Vocational Nursing programs will have prerequisites that must be completed before starting. While some colleges may have stricter requirements, others implement more lenient or accepting prerequisites. For instance, the admissions process for the VN program at Unitek College can be completed online. Some of their admissions requirements include the following points:

  • Submit proof of high school education or equivalent
  • Complete the Unitek VN prerequisite course within 12 months before the scheduled start date of the VN program
  • Complete an interview with the program director
  • Complete a background check during the prerequisite course
  • Complete a physical examination, including immunizations and TB testing
  • Make financing arrangements

Keep in mind that requirements for a VN program will vary by school. Check with the program advisor or admissions counselor to view a complete list of prerequisites. Many schools will require proof of certain immunizations and a passing grade on an entrance exam.

Entrance Exams and Immunization Requirements

At Unitek College, VN program applicants must complete a prerequisite course before pursuing the VN program. One of the prerequisite course requirements is a passing score of 17 or higher on the entrance exam, also known as the “Scholastic Level Exam – Q” (SLE-Q).

In addition, VN students must provide proof of various immunizations, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Physical exam form, signed and dated by a doctor or nurse practitioner (completed within the prior three months)
  • Mumps, Measles & Rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella
  • Hepatitis B
  • Tdap/DTAP within ten years
  • TB Screen
  • COVID-19 vaccination (all doses)
  • Flu & H1N1 immunization record documented for the current season (current vaccines are usually available between August through March)
  • Whooping Cough booster IF Pertussis missing in Tdap/ DTAP (not older than ten years)
  • Drug Testing (school will provide to student)
  • Mask Fit Test (school will provide to student)

Is Vocational Nursing School Hard?

It all depends on the person as well as their strengths and weaknesses. To determine how challenging it may be, start by compiling a list of your strengths and weakness. Think about your personality type, as well as your interests and motivations. Most importantly, decide which aspects of a VN program are non-negotiable. For example, if you work full time, you may already know that an online or hybrid-online program format is vital to your success.

Many people tend to think that success is a straight and linear path. For most people, it’s just the opposite: Failure leads to success. While some exams or clinical simulations may be intense, remember that your program is designed to prepare you for the field.

The difficulty of your studies may also depend on the type of program you select. While degree programs lay the foundation for higher study—and potentially more job opportunities—they also require more time in school. Additionally, they are usually not necessary for entry-level nursing positions.

If you need to launch your career sooner, you can typically complete VN training for a diploma program in as little as 12 months. These programs may not set the foundation for higher study but will equip you with the necessary skill set to launch a successful Vocational Nursing career.

Close up of medial scrubs and gear

Vocational Nursing School Tips

When it comes to surviving VN school, keep in mind that thousands of students graduate from VN programs every year. We have no doubt that you will be one of them, too! And, if you need help, there are various VN school study tips at your disposal.

Here are just some of our study tips for nursing students, plus a few for graduates seeking certification.

  • Eat Before Class –This tip might sound obvious, but it’s so essential that it tops the list. Hunger can have a BIG impact on your ability to focus. You may not retain critical information if your stomach growls throughout the lecture.
  • Get Enough Sleep –This is another important tip that is somewhat obvious. If you think hunger can influence your studies, sleep is a whole other animal! So, every night, aim for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
  • Dress for Comfort –Depending on your program, you might need to be on your feet during class. Alternatively, you might spend hours at a desk or in a lecture hall.
  • Ask, Ask, Ask –If there’s something you don’t understand, it’s vital that you ask questions and comprehend the material. For those who don’t want to ask with others present, you can always email your teacher or speak to them after class.
  • Record Your Lectures –See if your instructor would be okay with you recording their lectures. You can use your phone’s voice recorder function if they don’t mind. This could help you study and ensure that you truly understand each topic.
  • Set Aside Time to Study –Most nights, you will need to dedicate a few hours of study for your VN program. Because of this, it’s important that your friends and family know what’s involved when pursuing this career path. It’s a  big decision, and you should ensure you can meet the demands.
  • Use Campus Resources –Don’t forget to look for resources at your campus. Take advantage of learning from experienced people and utilize available study aids, labs, and other available tools. In addition, seek out practice tests to gauge your knowledge and where to improve. After a few study sessions, retake them to see if they have been effective.

How to Study for the Vocational Nursing Exam

Once you have graduated from an approved VN program, you will need to pass the NCLEX-PN exam before you can receive your nursing license. This exam is issued by a governmental entity, which guarantees public safety and competence. After all, nurses perform a critical service and form a large group of licensed professionals in the U.S. Therefore, they must receive the proper credentials.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has developed two exams to test the competence of aspiring RNs and LVNs. If you take the NCLEX-PN exam, you might be given multiple-choice questions or questions delivered in alternate formats. These can include but are not limited to multiple-response, fill-in-the-blank calculation, ordered response, and/or hot spots (think a picture or diagram that requires analysis). Some questions may also provide visual aids like charts, tables, graphics, sound, or video.

In addition, the test can include anywhere from 85 to 205 questions. Since it uses a computerized adaptive testing (CAT) format, no single exam will be identical to another. The (CAT) format measures the difficulty level of each question and, based on your answer, varies the difficulty level accordingly.

This means that the difficulty level will increase if you answer questions correctly (the opposite is also true). After you’ve completed the minimum questions, the computer can start applying its pass/fail rules to determine if you passed, failed, or need to be asked more questions. This process continues until it determines whether you have passed or failed the exam.

When studying for the NCLEX exam, the amount of time you should set aside really depends on you. Some people require more time to review, while others prefer to take the exam right after they graduate from their Vocational Nursing program. In general, you should set aside at least one month to study for the exam, with several hours committed each day.

See test plans and other study aides from the NCSBN here.

Two smiling Asian nurses taking notes

Begin Your Career as a Vocational Nurse

Without a doubt, Vocational Nurses play an essential role in healthcare. Many schools can offer high-quality education for aspiring LVNs. These vocational schools can give you the knowledge and skillset to succeed in your new career. If you have an avid desire to help others and don’t want to spend years in school, then becoming a Vocational Nurse could be a very satisfying career path for you.

Find the right VN program and get started on the road to a rewarding career today.