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This guide is written for anyone interested in getting started in a career as a Practical Nurse in PA. This guide includes information about United Career Institute’s Practical Nursing Diploma program and material about required testing, the healthcare field, and frequently asked questions about the practical nursing field.

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About United Career Institute:

United Career Institute has a history that goes back to 1987 when the school was referred to as the Pennsylvania Institute of Health and Technology.

The name United Career Institute (UCI) was established in 2019 by West Virginia Junior College in Morgantown, West Virginia, as a short-term career training school in Irwin, Pennsylvania, serving southwestern Pennsylvania and online students across the state.

United Career Institute’s mission is to provide students with specialized career training taught by qualified faculty and staff that uphold our core values and purpose. By maintaining the philosophy that students come first, United Career Institute students build a bond with the school that allows them to develop professionally and personally.

By offering every student access to personalized support and attention, United Career Institute integrates its core values: Work Ethic, Exemplary, Caring, Accountability, Relationships, and Excellence (WE CARE). By holding each person within the organization to these fundamental beliefs, UCI can fulfill its purpose of empowering change by creating opportunity.

United Core Values United Purpose

The Nationwide Nursing Shortage

According to The American Nurses Association, the need for nurses across the country is at an all-time high. Many factors have contributed to the shortage of nurses; two of the most impactful are the aging Baby Boomer Generation and the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the current nursing workforce ages and begins to retire, the need for new nurses to fill their positions will rise. It is estimated that the median age of current Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) in the workforce is over 50, with more than one-fifth of nurses having plans to retire within the next five years.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the world and put healthcare workers on the frontline of defense, the need for qualified professionals has risen quickly. Unfortunately, due to patient care needs and workforce shortages, many nurses experienced prolonged periods of stress, leading to feeling burnt out. In a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, 22% of nurses considered leaving the nursing profession because of burnout.

The nursing shortage has been affecting the state of Pennsylvania for some time. According to the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), by 2030, the need for LPNs is expected to surpass the number of nurses in the workforce by 18,700 LPNs. United Career Institute is helping address the shortage of qualified nurses by offering the option to obtain a diploma in Practical Nursing in PA in just 12 months, allowing future nurses to learn the necessary skills and knowledge to start their careers quickly.

United Career Nurses Week 2022

Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) Exam

One of the first steps to becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse* is to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam. Most institutions require this standardized test for admittance into nursing programs. The TEAS exam is designed by Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) to evaluate a student’s preparedness to enter a health science field.

The TEAS test consists of questions across reading, mathematics, science, and English and language usage subjects. Students are given three hours and twenty-nine minutes to complete a series of 170 multiple-choice, multiple-select, fill-in-the-blank, ordered responses, or hot spot questions.

Prospective students planning to take the TEAS exam for entrance to the Practical Nursing Diploma program at United Career Institute have access to numerous materials to help study, including a preparation resources guide. ATI recommends that students prepare for the TEAS exam for at least six weeks before taking it, so beginning the process early can help you be successful.
*Passing the NCLEX-PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.

National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN)*

The National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN)* exam is the industry-passing standard test that reflects a nurse’s ability to work as a practical nurse in the field safely and competently. As nursing practices change, the NCSBN Board of Directors reviews the exam every three years and makes necessary changes to ensure the standards are up to date.

The United Career Institute Practical Nursing program includes important preparation for the NCLEX-PN exam, but students also can access online study methods for additional practice.

The NCLEX exam is a high-level exam that requires critical thinking and decision-making skills to analyze and answer situation-based questions. The test is divided into a minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 145 questions across four sections based on client needs: Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion And Maintenance, Psychosocial Integrity, and Physiological Integrity. Candidates have a maximum of five hours to complete the exam.

The NCLEX exam operates using computerized adaptive testing (CAT) to administer the exam. By using this system, the computer can evaluate the candidate by their ability to answer the questions accurately. By analyzing the previous questions, the computer will continuously show questions that the candidate should have a 50% likelihood of answering correctly. This allows each exam to be individualized to determine the candidate’s true ability.

The test is graded on a pass-or-fail system which is determined by one of the following three rules:

  1. The 95% Confidence Interval Rule occurs when the computer is 95% certain that the candidate is clearly above or below the passing standard.

2. The Maximum-Length Exam Rule occurs when the candidate’s ability is extremely close to the passing standard, and the computer disregards the 95% rule. The computer will continue to show questions until the maximum number of questions has been reached, then will evaluate skill level to determine the exam’s result.

3. The Run-Out-Of-Time Rule occurs when the candidate runs out of time before reaching the maximum number of questions, and the computer is not 95% confident that the candidate passes or fails. The candidate will then be scored on the questions answered to determine skill level and whether the result is a pass or fail.

Annually, United Career Institute reports licensure rates for programs where certification, licensure, or registration is based upon an industry-recognized exam required to become employed in Pennsylvania. This data is reported by the institution’s accrediting body, the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) Annual Report. In the most recent report, United Career Institute has a 100% NCLEX-PN Licensure exam pass rate.
*Passing the NCLEX-PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.

Accreditation and Approvals

United Career Institute is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) to award associate degrees and diplomas. ABHES is a national accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education.

United Career Institute is licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools.

The United Career Institute Practical Nursing program is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

United Career Institute offers some programs that are approved by the State Approving Agency for students to use veterans’ benefits.

Practical Nursing Courses at United Career Institute

Students in the United Career Institute Practical Nursing program will learn and utilize the nursing process to provide safe and effective patient care. Students will be prepared to function as well-versed healthcare professionals upon completing the program by exercising sound nursing judgment, critical thinking, and patient care skills.

Students will complete instruction and clinical experiences in gerontological, medical, surgical, obstetric, and pediatric nursing. A complete list of classes practical nursing students will take is available on page 9 of our downloadable guide.

Download our free guide here!

United Career Institute’s Process

At United Career Institute, each student’s educational experience can be tailored to their specific needs while adhering to an established, process to provide a thorough training experience. Our proven process guides Practical Nursing students through their time at United Career Institute using the five steps: Learn, Practice, Apply, Earn, and Start.

Step One: Learn

In step one, students will begin their classroom experiences, learning the fundamental skills needed for their careers.

Step Two: Practice

Students will then take the fundamental skills learned through classroom instruction and apply them to lab experiences conducted by instructors.

Step Three: Apply

In step three, students will apply their knowledge and skills to a real-world environment through clinical experiences.

Step Four: Earn

At the end of their program, students will prepare to sit for the NCLEX-PN* licensure exam.

Step Five: Start

In step five, students graduate from their programs and start their career journey.

To begin the admissions process, start by Requesting Information about your program of interest. A skilled admissions team member will then contact you to discuss the enrollment process, Financial Aid**, grant opportunities^, and more.
*Passing the NCLEX-PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.
**Available for those who qualify.
^For those who qualify. See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.

Healthcare Field Positions in Pennsylvania

There are many paths to take within the healthcare field, depending on a person’s interests, skill set, and education. It takes just 48 weeks to complete a Diploma in Practical Nursing in PA, which provides future nurses with the knowledge they need to start a successful nursing career. Obtaining a Practical Nursing Diploma can allow nurses to start working in the field and earning money while studying for their RN if they choose to further their education.

Other healthcare positions that could potentially lead to a career in nursing include Certified Nurses Assistant or Medical Assisting. These programs require less education and time investments, which can lead to gaining experience in the healthcare field before pursuing a nursing education. United Career Institute offers students in both the Online Medical Assisting and the residential Medical Assisting programs the opportunity to complete their program in 18 months.

These programs allow them to receive hands-on experience in an externship, obtain an associate degree, and be prepared to sit for National Healthcareer Association certification* exams. This path is a great option for those looking to learn healthcare fundamentals and gain valuable experience in the healthcare field before continuing to a nursing program. Additionally, students who complete a Medical Assisting or Medical Billing/Administration program at United Career Institute also have the opportunity to enter the Practical Nursing program exempt** from taking the TEAS exam.
United Career Pledge
*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.
**For those who qualify. See United Career Institute catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.

Differences Between an LPN and RN

One of the most notable differences between becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse and a Registered Nurse is the time investment in education. United Career Institute’s Practical Nursing Diploma can be completed in 12 months. The typical Associate Degree in Nursing program requires students to spend up to 24 months in school.

Registered Nurses also have a larger scope of work and more job duties than Licensed Practical Nurses. LPNs typically work directly with the patients and are able to provide basic medical care, including monitoring vital signs, caring for wounds, performing IV therapy, collecting medical specimens, assisting patients with daily activities, and other tasks. LPNs work closely under the instruction of Registered Nurses, who coordinate care plans with doctors, administer certain medications, and educate the healthcare team on various health-related topics.

A Practical Nursing Diploma can be an ideal entry point into the nursing field, as LPNs can later decide to further their education by enrolling in an LPN to RN Bridge program. By obtaining your Diploma in Practical Nursing, you can enter the workforce sooner and gain valuable experience in the field that those who choose to attend a longer program may miss out on.

Applying a Practical Nursing Diploma

The skills that Licensed Practical Nurses learn in their education make them adaptable and valuable team members in many medical facilities. LPN positions can be found in hospitals or emergency rooms, physician’s offices, rehabilitation centers, long-term nursing home facilities, in-home health agencies, government agencies, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35% of Licensed Practical Nurses in 2021 were employed in nursing and residential care facilities.

Regardless of the medical setting, an LPN chooses to work in; they will be an essential part of the healthcare team. Practical Nurses work closely with Registered Nurses, Nurses Assistants, Doctors, and other healthcare team members.

The Benefits of United Career Institute’s Practical Nursing Program

United Career Institute’s unique approach to education allows students to complete their Practical Nursing program in a supportive environment while gaining hands-on skills and knowledge to be successful in their careers. We understand that students need to balance family, work, and school, which is why the student experience is our top priority.

United Career Institute employs a direct admission policy, meaning students will save time and money by not taking unnecessary classes or taking classes to later find out they are not accepted into the nursing program. As a result of our direct admission program, students will complete their LPN training in only twelve months. In addition, accelerated training classes through UCI allow students to learn the necessary practical nursing skills, prepare to sit for the NCLEX-PN* exam, and enter the workforce quickly, rather than spending 4-6 years at a traditional school.

Our students will learn fundamental skills during lectures, apply hands-on skills in lab classroom instruction, and then complete clinical rotations at medical facilities in the greater Pittsburgh area, where they work with actual patients in a real-world environment. At the end of the Practical Nursing program, students will be prepared to sit for the NCLEX-PN* licensure exam.

Additionally, our students have access to career and student services, including academic and personal support, resume assistance, interview preparation, tutoring, and more. Our staff and faculty work tirelessly to help students be successful in their education and beyond.

Another service that sets United Career Institute apart is UCI Alumni resources. Graduates are eligible for career management support and refresher courses as their industry evolves.
Practical Nurse in PA Benefits Graphic
*Passing the NCLEX-PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What does a practical nurse do?
A: In many cases, Practical Nurses work directly with patients, but their skills include reviewing medical histories, collecting samples for lab testing, monitoring vitals, and more.

Q: What is the difference between an RN and LPN?
A: RNs have completed more education and have a larger scope of work than LPNs, who focus primarily on patient medical care. Because of their extended education, RNs take on more leadership roles and generally perform more complex procedures.

Q: How long does it take to become an LPN?
A: Students in the Practical Nursing Diploma program at United Career Institute can expect to complete their training in 12 months.

Q: Where can an LPN work?
A: Practical Nurses can work in a variety of medical settings, including pediatrician’s offices, hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing care facilities, home health agencies, or for private physicians.

Q: What are the benefits of being an LPN?
A: There are many benefits to earning a Diploma in Practical Nursing, including starting a career in the field sooner, having opportunities for advancement, job placement, and financial stability.

Get Started On Your Journey with United Career Institute!

If you are ready to change your life by starting a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse, United Career Institute is the place for you. We are here to help you succeed in your education and career as a future nurse. Contact our admissions team by calling 724-515-2440 or Requesting Information to begin the process.

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Scholarships are available for many of our programs and vary by location.