Diving into Practical Nursing: A Closer Look at the Curriculum and Clinical Experience

Diving into Practical Nursing: A Closer Look at the Curriculum and Clinical Experience

Are you interested in becoming a practical nurse? Want to take a closer look at the Practical Nursing curriculum and what you will experience in a clinical setting? Let OBC prepare you for a career as a practical nurse with our allied health program specializing in practical nursing.

What Do You Learn During a Practical Nursing Program?

You will complete essential courses in practical nursing to prepare you to manage health care for patients in hospitals, clinics, long-term care, assisted living, and other medical facilities. These courses include:

 Anatomy & Physiology

An introduction to medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, human body systems, microbiology, and pathology. This includes the integumentary, musculoskeletal, nervous, immune, cardiovascular, pulmonary, lymphatic, endocrine, urinary, digestive, and reproductive body systems.

Clinical Judgement for Practical Nursing

An introduction to clinical judgment models and frameworks to help you think like a nurse. It also offers a foundation for clinical judgment processes and planning patient care.

Fundamentals of Practical Nursing

A course focusing on safe, patient-centered nursing fundamentals for a diverse patient population. Skills are also taught in the laboratory to supplement in-class lectures.

Caring for Older Adults

A course on safe, compassionate, patient-centered nursing care for older adults. With the baby boomer generation aging, additional nurses will be needed to manage seniors with advanced age disorders and diseases.

Caring for Reproducing Family

A course on safe healthcare procedures for the reproductive family and the neonate.

Caring for Children

A course on the knowledge and skills needed to manage healthcare for children. A focus is placed on the different phases of care from baby to toddler, adolescent to teenager.

Caring for Adults

A course on nursing theory to build nursing skills in various clinical settings to provide good health outcomes for adult patients.

IV Therapy

A course on the knowledge and psychomotor skills needed to perform intravenous therapy. Hands-on training is offered in a laboratory setting.

Mental Health Nursing

A course on the knowledge and skills needed to offer proper mental health nursing to patients.

What Does a Practical Nurse Do?

Practical nurses are entry-level healthcare professionals who provide primary nursing care under the supervision of a doctor or a registered nurse. On a day-to-day basis, they:

Monitor Patients

Practical nurses work at a patient’s bedside, serving as the physician’s eyes and ears. They collect clinical data and watch patients for changes in condition. Emergencies are brought to the attention of medical staff immediately.

Direct Patient Care

Practical nurses assist patients with daily living, which includes bathing, dressing, and eating. They start with simple tasks while awaiting opportunities to observe and practice more complex procedures. Nurses help patients walk and participate in therapeutic exercises. Nurses frequently reposition patients in a nursing facility or hospital to ward off skin ulcers.

Vital Signs

Practical nurses monitor patients’ vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, temperature, and oxygen saturation. They report abnormal findings to the healthcare team.

Manage Medical Equipment

Practical nurses manage medical equipment from IVs to catheters. While taking care of patients, they may work with:

  • Portable O2 equipment
  • IV and tube-feeding pumps
  • Cardiac monitors
  • Nebulizers
  • CPAP and BIPAP
  • Mechanical lifts and transfer aids
  • Emergency equipment, such as AEDs and bag valve masks

Manage Pain

Practical nurses assess patients for pain considerations, administer medications, and employ non-pharmacological interventions.

Administer Medications

Practical nurses assist with medication administration. They may be asked to:

  • Prepare medications for patients
  • Reconstitute powdered drugs
  • Measure injectable medications
  • Administer intramuscular and subcutaneous injections
  • Follow an insulin sliding scale
  • Monitor patients for symptoms and side effects
  • Document administration

Provide Emotional Support

Practical nurses emotionally support patients and their families, offering comfort, sympathy, and reassurance during difficult times.

Provide Psychosocial Support

Practical nurses work within medical facilities where patients and families depend on them for holistic support. Nurses help meet patient’s emotional, psychological, and social needs through supervision, education, and recreation.

Perform Procedures

Practical nurses perform many hands-on procedures, most of which take practice. They won’t have the opportunity to practice every skill, but they will learn how to:

  • Insert a urinary catheter
  • Administer a tube feeding
  • Clear a tracheostomy tube
  • Change a wound dressing
  • Check blood sugar
  • Collect a urinary or stool sample
  • Perform a neutralizer treatment
  • Remove stitches or staples
  • Sterilize instruments

Provide Emergency Care

Practical nurses are trained in basic life support techniques, including CPR and emergency oxygen administration. Additional training in advanced life support protocols is available and particularly valuable for practical nurses employed in hospitals.

Collaborate with Healthcare Professionals

Practical nurses serve as clinical liaisons who see patients the most. They attend shift reports and unit meetings to get a feel of the workflow within a medical facility. It’s all a part of providing coordinated and comprehensive care.

Educate Patients

A large part of a practical nurse’s role is to teach patients and families how to stay healthy. They will start by answering general questions, including:


  • Review discharge instructions with patients
  • Explore self-care
  • Discuss new medications
  • Explain common medical conditions


Practical nurses are responsible for accurately, objectively, and comprehensively documenting patient information in paper charts or electronic health records. Documentation is an essential legal and professional responsibility for practical nurses. They write notes to convey their observations about a patient’s condition, ensuring continuity of care.

Supervising Paraprofessional Staff

Practical nurses supervise paraprofessional team members, such as nursing assistants and dietary aides, keeping everyone accountable.

Team Collaboration

Practical nurses work closely with RNs, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care. They communicate patient updates, participate in care conferences, and contribute to healthcare planning and implementation. As advocates, they also represent patients, ensuring their voices are heard.

How Do You Become a Practical Nurse? 

While registered nurses (RNs) are required to have a college degree, you can become a practical nurse with a vocational school diploma. The curriculum covers the theory and practical skills every nurse needs. You’ll sit for the NCLEX-PN®, the nationally recognized licensure exam, upon graduation. Pass, and you’re ready to start helping patients.

What Is the NCLEX-PN?

The NCLEX-PN is an exam given to evaluate graduating practical nurses. NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination; PN shows it’s for practical nurses. A passing grade is required to get a state license to practice.

Developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, a non-profit organization dedicated to nursing education, tests are updated annually to reflect current standards and best practices. Passing demonstrates to the state that you have the knowledge and skills to help patients safely and effectively.

Want to Learn More?

The Practical Nursing (PN) Program that Ohio Business College provides is 44 weeks or four quarters long. The program covers theory, nursing skills lab, simulation lab, and clinical experiences. Once you graduate from the PN program, you will be fully qualified to write to the NCLEX-PN® to become licensed as an LPN in Ohio.

Contact us today to learn more about our LPN programs.