Practical Nursing - Learn More

Practical Nursing

Technical Diploma

Credits Required for Graduation: 32.00

Learn More About This Program

Practical Nursing

The Practical Nurse (LPN) is a member of the nursing team who provides nursing care under the supervision of the registered nurse. Such care includes observing, documenting and reporting; implementing nursing measures and medical regimens; and assisting in planning and evaluating nursing care. The curriculum is comprised of nursing science and general education courses. Concurrent theory instruction and laboratory experience in the school, hospitals and long-term care facilities are provided. Special strengths of the program lie in the high degree of individualization of learning activities and concentrated transition experience in a long-term care facility. At graduation the student receives a vocational diploma and is eligible for admission to the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses for licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Graduates are employed as LPN's in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and physician's offices. The program is approved by the State of Wisconsin Board of Nursing.

How to get More Information

Program Counselors, Enrollment Services Advisors:
Counselors can be reached at:
La Crosse Campus 608.785.9553
Black River Falls Campus 715. 284.2253
Independence Campus 715.985.3392
Mauston Campus 608.847.7364
Tomah Campus 608.374.7700
Viroqua Campus 608.637.2612

Enrollment Services Advisors:

Instructor Websites

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does A Practical Nurse Do?

The Practical Nurse (LPN) is a nurse who practices within the guidelines of the Nurse Practice Act and under the general supervision of a Registered Nurse or the direction of a physician, podiatrist, dentist or optometrist. LPNs provide basic nursing care, record nursing care given, and report to the appropriate person changes in the condition of a client. LPNs assist with the collection of data, development and revision of nursing care plans, reinforce teaching provided by RNs or other appropriate health care personnel, and participate as part of an interdisciplinary team in meeting basic client needs.

What Does It Take To Become A Practical Nurse?

It takes discipline and hard work. Practical Nurses are expected to work in a stressful, multidisciplinary environment. They need to be mature, independent thinkers who are assertive and able to advocate for the heath care needs of individuals and families. They must be able to care for clients in all phases of the health-illness continuum and throughout the lifespan.

How Long Is The Program At Western?

The Practical Nursing program at Western is two semesters long. The Practical Nursing program is part of the Wisconsin Technical College state curriculum and is identical to the first year of the Associate Degree Nursing program. The Practical Nursing program is approved by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing. General Anatomy & Physiology is required prior to entry into the Nursing Program.

What Are The Special Program Characteristics?

The Practical Nursing program has a challenging curriculum that will prepare you to provide direct care for individuals in long-term care agencies, doctor’s clinics, home health agencies, the armed services, and other sites. This program is designed for the adult learner. It features a learning environment that fosters independence, problem solving, organization, goal attainment and communication through faculty guided learning and performance-based evaluation. Only students accepted in the Nursing program are allowed to register for nursing courses. Courses provide learning tasks based on course competencies and facilitate mastery of theoretical and clinical performance standards. Classes, the skills and simulation labs, and clinical settings provide opportunities to share knowledge, ask questions, and practice newly mastered skills.

The Practical Nursing program is also offered at our Regional Learning Centers located in Mauston, Black River Falls and Viroqua. Many nursing theory courses are offered in blended or online format in addition to the traditional face-to-face.

Do I Need A Computer With Internet Access?

Because nursing faculty use Internet-supported teaching strategies, nursing students need access to a computer that has internet access and email capabilities. We highly recommend that you have computer access with internet in your home as Blackboard and internet are the main communication methods in the Nursing program. Internet-supported learning strategies include use of a Web Board (Blackboard) for questions/answers/ discussions; email and learning plans with hot links to related web sites. Information about computer needs is available on our system requirements page. DSL or Cable internet access is recommended as dial-up access is slow.

Is The Program Approved?

Yes, the State of Wisconsin Board of Nursing and the Wisconsin Technical College System approved the program.

Will I be Required to Travel?

The Practical Nursing program utilizes clinical sites in the Western Technical College District during the program. Students are responsible for their own transportation to all clinical sites. Overnight travel is not required.

Are There Health Risks?

Students in nursing programs are exposed to selected health risks related to the environment of their learning experiences. Clinical labs are held in medical centers, clinics, and in various clinical locations. Entering the nursing program is a choice and students need to be aware of possible health risks in practice settings. The nature of nursing in an acute care center is that there may be unintended exposure to health risks. Students enrolled in nursing have potential for exposure to communicable diseases or may sustain injuries in the clinical setting.

How Much Time Will I Spend In The Client Care Setting?

Clinical experience begins during the first semester of the program. Clinical schedules vary from course to course and may include six to sixteen hours of clinical practice each week. All students are required to participate in orientation to the clinical agency. The nursing program reserves the right to reassign students for such reasons as balancing the number of students in each section and other considerations.

What if I am Unsuccessful in a Nursing Course?

Anyone receiving less than a C in a nursing course will be allowed to repeat the course on a space available basis only, pending the initiation of a success plan and completing the re-entry process. All required courses within the curriculum plan for a given semester must be completed before progressing forward. Students who enroll in a course without satisfactory completion of prerequisites will be dropped.

What Happens After I Graduate?

After successfully completing the Practical Nursing (PN) program, the graduate becomes eligible to apply to take the national licensing exam for Practical Nursing. The Western Nursing Program is a rigorous course of study that prepares students to pass the NCLEX Exam on their first attempt.Practical Nursing graduates are also eligible to apply to the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program and continue their education to become an RN.  Articulation of a PN graduate into the ADN program will be based on seat availability.  Please do not apply until you have nearly completed the first two semesters of the nursing program. 

May I Take A Theory Course Online Elsewhere?

Students who take theory courses online through another Wisconsin Technical College must provide the official transcript verifying coursework has been completed with a "C" or better to Western Technical College's Registrar's Office.

Students who take online courses elsewhere may encounter academic delays and/or difficulties with registration in a timely manner. Entry into clinical lab placement may be affected due to transfer of courses. Placement into clinical lab is on a space-available basis only and permission is needed from the Associate Dean of Nursing.

What if I Have Special Needs?

Essential functions have been identified for each program. These essential functions specify the physical, environmental, and cognitive/mental requirements that students may be expected to perform to complete the program. To obtain a detailed list of these functions or inquire about accommodations for a documented disability, please contact Kristina Stellpflug, Instructional Support Services at 608.785.9875, or

How do I Get Into The Program?

Complete and submit the Wisconsin Technical College System application.If you are interested in more than one program, you must complete an application for each program. A $30.00 non-refundable application fee (made payable to Western) must be submitted with the application. Applications are available at Western in the Welcome Center (La Crosse Campus) or any Regional Learning Center location. Applications are also available online at