Certificate in Practical Nursing - More Information

Duties of a Licensed Practical Nurse

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) care for people, newborn through aged, who are sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. LPNs measure and record clients' vital signs, prepare and give injections and enemas, monitor catheters, and dress wounds. They assist with clients’ daily activities that they are unable to perform themselves due to illness or disability. LPNs collect samples for testing, perform routine laboratory tests, and record food and fluid intake and output. They also give medications, monitor their clients and report adverse reactions to medications or treatments. LPNs gather information from clients, including their health history and how they are currently feeling, and teach clients and their family members about their care. LPNs may be in charge positions in long term care facilities, with responsibility for residents’ care and health monitoring and supervising of nursing assistants.

Employment possibilities

Licensed practical nurses work in a variety of health care settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care agencies, doctor's offices, clinics, industry, correctional institutions, schools, and home care agencies.

Functional Abilities Necessary for Nurses


Sixteen Categories of Functional Abilities Necessary for Nursing Students 





Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills sufficient to provide the full range of safe and effective nursing care activities.


Fine Motor Skills   

Fine motor skills sufficient to perform manual psychomotor skills.


Physical Endurance

Physical stamina sufficient to perform client care activities for entire length of work role.


Physical Strength 

Physical strength sufficient to perform full range of required client care activities.



Physical abilities sufficient to move from place to place and to maneuver to perform nursing activities.



Auditory ability sufficient for physical monitoring and assessment of client health care needs



Visual ability sufficient for accurate observation and performance of nursing care.



Tactile ability sufficient for physical monitoring and assessment of health care needs.



Olfactory ability sufficient to detect significant environmental and client odors.



Reading ability sufficient to comprehend the written word at a minimum of a tenth grade level.



Arithmetic ability sufficient to do computations at a minimum of an eighth grade level. It includes the following three concepts:


  • Counting: the act of enumerating or determining the number of items in a group.

  • Measuring: the act or process of ascertaining the extent, dimensions or quantity of something.                                       

  • Computing: the act or process of performing mathematical calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.


Emotional Stability

Emotional stability sufficient to assume responsibility/accountability for actions.


Analytical Thinking

Reasoning skills sufficient to perform deductive/inductive thinking for nursing decisions.


Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking ability sufficient to exercise sound nursing judgment.


Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with individuals, families and groups respecting social, cultural and spiritual diversity.


Communication Skills

Communication abilities sufficient for interaction with others in oral and written form.


National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.

Length of Practical Nursing Program

The entire program is 49 credits. The clinical portion of the Practical Nursing Certificate Program lasts 3 semesters. Programs begin every 1.5 years alternating between August-start and January-start. Any required developmental Math, English or Biology courses must be completed prior to applying to the program. It is also highly recommended that the required general education courses in the curriculum be completed prior to beginning the clinical courses. In following this recommendation, most students do take at least an extra semester to complete the required 49 credits so that they may focus o the nursing content during the clinical semesters.

Locations of Practical Nursing Programs and Clinical Sites


Christanna Campus; Alberta, VA

  • Start of Program:
    • January 2021 
  • Clinical Locations
    • Various clinical agencies in South Hill, Emporia, Clarksville and Burkeville

820 Bruce St., South Boston, VA

  • Start of Program:
    • January 2021 
  • Clinical Locations
    • Various clinical agencies in South Boston, Clarksville and Farmville


PN Admission Sequence

If not currently enrolled at SVCC, submit an application for admission to the college, along with high school transcript or proof of GED and transcript of any previous college work. 

  • Meet with SVCC counselor in Student Services to review program and transcripts and determine if college placement test is needed. See "New Student Success Checklist" for tips on "Next Steps" after this enrollment process.
  • Register for and complete any required developmental courses as determined necessary by SVCC counselor.
  • Register for General Education Support classes. Though not required for acceptance into the program, complete as many as possible prior to beginning clinical nursing courses.
  • Take ATI-TEAS pre-entrance test prior to application deadline for the year you are applying. Next upcoming deadline is September 15, 2020  for the January 2021-start program.
  • Submit PN application after completion of developmental requirements, Information Session, and TEAS test. The PN Application will be available online from May 1, 2020 - September 15, 2020.



PN Admission Requirements

    1. Proof of high school completion or equivalent. Submit official high school transcript from approved school, home school, or successful completion of GED.
    2. High school courses and GPA within 5 years prior that are adequate to exempt student OR scores on the Virginia Placement Test (VPT) that exceed those for placement in developmental education courses, OR satisfactory completion of ENF 1 or ENF 2 and Math modules (MTE) 1 through. Meeting of developmental requirements is determined by the SVCC counselor during the SVCC enrollment process.
    3. Acceptable scores on ATI-TEAS (6th Edition) Pre-Admission Exam: At least 52% correct. TEAS-V is still accepted if taken within previous 5 years.
    4. Cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher on all work attempted at SVCC.
    5. Completed Application for Practical Nursing Program, indicating which location you are applying for. Applications are in effect for one year only. If not accepted and you are still interested in the program for the next year, you must reapply!


    • September 15, 2020 for programs beginning January 2021 in Alberta and South Boston
  1. First priority for admission will be given to fully qualified applicants who are residents of the College service area.
  2. Requirements to be met after acceptance into program

    • Complete a physical examination, including any lab work and immunizations by the first day of class. Students must be free of any physical or mental condition that may adversely affect their performance in clinical courses or as nurses.
    • Students entering the nursing curriculum must be certified in American Heart Association CPR for the Healthcare Provider. Certification must remain current during entire enrollment in program.
    • Complete Criminal Background Check and Urine Drug Screen per instructions in acceptance letter. Please be aware that the Virginia State Board of Nursing (Click on Document 90-55) has the authority to deny licensure to any applicant who has violated any of the provisions of 54‐367.32 of the Code of Virginia. Any student entering the nursing program who has committed any illegal offenses other than minor traffic violations should discuss these matters with the Program Director prior to admission for clarification



    PN Readmission Requirements

    • A student who has previously been enrolled in the nursing sequence must have a cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0 or above to continue in the nursing sequence.  A previously enrolled student who desires to return MUST do the following:
      • Submit Request for Re-entry into the Nursing Program form online.
      • Present evidence of cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0 or greater.
      • Be aware that re-admission will be on a space available basis.
      • A student who has been out of the SVCC nursing program more than 12 months will be evaluated for return on an individual basis.
    • Students who have been enrolled in the nursing classes and received a grade of “W”, “D” or “F” must be approved by the PN nursing faculty before being officially readmitted. Once approved by the nursing faculty, the student will be admitted to the nursing class on a space available basis after all other qualified applicants have been accepted.

    General Education Requirements

    Though the following courses are not technically pre-requisites to the Practical Nursing Program, it is difficult to complete the coursework along with preparing for and completing clinical rotations. Therefore, it is highly recommended that these courses be completed prior to entering the first semester of the clinical nursing courses. If qualified applicants exceed program space available, candidates who have completed their General Education Requirements may receive priority consideration over those who have not completed these courses.

    • SDV 100 - College Success Skills - 1 credit 
    • ENG 111 - College Composition 1- 3 credits OR ENG 137, Communications Processes 1-3 credits
    • BIO 100 -  Basic Human Biology - 3 credits
    • ITE 119 -  Information Literacy - 3 credits 
    • PSY 230 - Developmental Psychology - 3 credits
    • EEE  - Humanities Elective  - 3 credits
    • NUR 120 - Nursing Terminology - 2 credits




    Practical Nursing Curriculum for Programs beginning January 2021

    The Curriculum listed below shows how a student might complete the entire 49 required credits if General Education Courses are not completed prior to beginning the program. All PNE (In bold type below) must be taken in sequence after acceptance into the Practical Nursing Program as listed under First Semester, Second Semester, and Third Semester.

    It is highly recommended to complete as many of the other required courses as possible prior to the First Semester of Practical Nursing (PNE).


    First Semester (*Summer 2019 Update: Potential Curriculum Changes coming! Check with an SVCC Counselor prior to enrolling in General Education courses for the January 2021 PN Program)







    BIO 100

    Basic Human Biology




    NUR 120





    PNE 161

    Nursing in Health Changes I




    NUR 135

    Drug Dosage




    SDV 100





    ENG 137 or
    ENG 111

    Basic Occupational Communications or
    College Composition I












    Second Semester







    PNE 162

    Nursing in Health Changes II




    PSY 230

    Developmental Psychology




    PNE 173

    Pharmacology for Practical Nurses












    Third Semester







    PNE 163

    Nursing in Health Changes III




    PNE 145

    ITE 119 


    Trends in Practical Nursing

    Information Literacy








    Humanities Elective










    Total minimum credits for Certificate in Practical Nursing: 49 credits



    Pre-Entrance Testing for Practical Nursing

    The ATI-TEAS is the required pre-admission test for our Practical Nursing Programs. This test may be taken 3 times in the admission cycle. Further details on this test can be found under the testing page of this website.

    To meet admission requirements with the ATI-TEAS, applicants must score at least 52% correct. (TEAS-V within 5 years may be considered with a minimum score of 48.7%.) Contact our Health Sciences Counselor, Rebecca Laben, at rebecca.laben@southside.edu or 434-736-2214 for further information.


    General information and Practical Nursing program-specific policies


    • Students must receive a grade of “C” or better in all courses in the PN curriculum.
    • In accordance with VCCS policy, students may not normally enroll in the same course more than twice without permission of the Campus Provost. Failure of any two nursing courses will result in dismissal from the program. Students dismissed from the program are not eligible to enroll in any of the PNE courses in the Practical Nursing Certificate Program.
    • Students are required to have a drug screen and criminal background check at student expense prior to starting nursing classes. Clinical agencies reserve the right to require random drug tests as deemed necessary
    • Further policies for the program are in the Practical Nursing Program Handbook and Policies Manual. The manual is given to all students accepted into the program and is available in all nursing faculty offices for review.
    • Students with Disabilities:Students with disabilities who meet the program prerequisites, complete the physical exam and submit the physical form signed by the health care provider stating that they are able to perform as a practical nurse in the clinical setting are admitted. It is the responsibility of the student to meet the physical/mental/legal requirements for state certification.


    Clinical Experience

    • Individual contracts are in effect with each affiliated clinical agency and these contracts may differ in requirements made of students. Clinical agencies reserve the right to dismiss a student from their agency at any time with due cause. This will be done with advance notice except in emergencies.
    • Proper uniform must be worn. Students must adhere to published clinical facility policies.
    • The College recommends that all students carry accident insurance and personal health insurance due to inherent risk of exposure to disease. The College/Clinical agency does not assume responsibility for accidents/incidents requiring medical attention. All registered students taking three or more credit hours are eligible to enroll in the VCCS Health Insurance Plan. Information on rates and coverage are available in the Student Developmental Office.
    • Students are responsible for their own transportation to off‐campus facilities on time for clinical experience.


    Costs of the Practical Nursing Program and Financial Aid

    In addition to regular college tuition and fees for the 49 required credits ([TUITION INFO] Tuition/fees are $156.50/credit hour: $156.50  X 49 = $7668.50), the program requires:

    • Uniform, lab coat and shoes:             $250 (can vary with type/number of uniforms purchased)
    • Books and supplies:                           $1000
    • Nursing Assessments:                        $400-$450 per semester ($1200-$1350 total)
    • Graduation Pin:                                  $50
    • Medical Exam/Immunizations           Varies
    • Criminal background/drug screen:     $150
    • CPR Certification:                               $75
    • Campus Lab and Clinical Supplies:     $200
    • Fees for NCLEX-PN & PN license:        $350                                            
      Total  .................................$3525 -$3675 (using $250 as sample Medical Exam fee)

    The above costs are approximate and are subject to change. The student should also consider the cost of transportation to class and clinical sites.

    Financial Aid

    The college has state and federal financial aid programs as well as several scholarship programs administered by the SVCC foundation. Some of these programs may cover uniforms and / or stethoscopes as well. Contact SVCC Financial Aid for assistance.

    Also, many hospitals have scholarships and forgivable loans.


    FAQs on Practical Nursing


    What courses should I take in High School?

    Focus on algebra and biology (regular biology with a lab component). You need to make at least a C in these courses. If your goal is to go further in nursing to become a Registered Nurse with an Associate’s Degree, you will also need chemistry with a lab and a grade of C or better. To progress to your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, it will help you to have 3 years of a world language, as you may not be required to take more in college.

    What do I need to do to be admitted into the Practical nursing program?

    • Submit an application to the college
    • Submit an official high school transcript or copy of GED certificate and scores
    • Make an appointment for & take the college placement tests
    • Consult one of the college counselors
    • Consult one of the financial aid counselors
    • Complete any recommended developmental courses based upon the placement tests
    • Submit an application to the Practical Nursing Program of your choice. (Alberta, South Boston)
    • Register, study, and take the ATI-TEAS Pre-entrance exam
    • Take as many of the required general education courses as you can prior to acceptance into the program. Maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average. You will need time to focus on both the classroom/lecture component and the clinical component of the nursing courses once accepted!

    Are there any scholarships or other funds available to help me with school related expenses?

    The college participates in state and federal financial aid programs as well as several scholarship programs administered by the SVCC foundation. 

    Are there any other tests that I need to take?

    The ATI-TEAS test is the pre-Entrance exam for Practical Nursing. Students must earn a total score of at least 52% correct this test to be considered for admission. Further details on this test can be found under the testing page of this website.


    How long will it take me to get through the program?

    If you have all the high school requirements and do not need any developmental courses based upon placement tests, it is possible to complete the program in 3 semesters.

    However, the Practical Nursing Program is rigorous and it is more difficult to be successful if you have many responsibilities. If you work, or have children to care for, we recommend that you take as many of the general education courses as possible prior to entry in the first nursing course with a clinical component (PNE 161).

    How many days a week and when will I be in school once I begin the nursing courses?

    You will attend classes or clinicals 4 days a week most of the time with occasional need for 5 days.

    Clinicals may be either 8 hour or 12 hour days.

    Classes will be scheduled between 8AM & 4PM.

    Can I take some of my prerequisites while I’m still in high school?

    Yes, you will need approval from your principal. Remember that our summer classes start in May before the high school year ends. Some general education courses, such as ENG 111, are offered as Dual Enrollment in many high schools.

    What classes should I take first and in what order, before getting into the program? Should I take each course one at a time or can I take more than one?

    This will depend upon your ability and the demands upon your time. The science classes tend to be the hardest. You will build a base with College Success Skills, with the English, Psychology, computer course and Basic Human Biology.

    Will I be able to work and go to school at the same time?

    It can be done, but it is not highly recommended.

    How many credits are required for the program?

    49 credits

    Will my credits help me and be transferable if and when I go for my ADN?


    If I have a GED can I still be accepted into the nursing program?

    Yes. You will need to take the following mandatory high school course here before you enter the program if you did not complete them with a C or better in high school: Biology.

    Where will my clinicals take place?

    Alberta:  Various clinical agencies in South Hill, Emporia, Clarksville and Burkeville.
    South Boston: Various clinical agencies in South Boston, Clarksville and Farmville.

    If you miss a semester for some reason can you come back into the program?

    Yes, if you do not stay out for longer than one year.

    What does your grade point average have to be to stay in the program?


    How much does this program cost?

    An approximate cost, subject to change is about $3525 - $3675 (books, uniforms, testing fees, medical exam, background check, etc.- NOT counting licensure exam and fees after graduation) in addition to college tuition and fees. College tuition and fees are $156.50/credit hour. The minimum required credits for the PN program are 49, making the tuition/fees for the entire program $7668.50.

    What happens if you fail a course?

    If you withdraw from or fail a course one time, you may retake the course. You will need approval by the Admissions Office with input from the PN Director and faculty of the school attended before being officially readmitted. Once approved, you may be readmitted to the nursing class on a space available basis, after all other qualified applicants have been accepted.

    How much of my life do I have to give up while in nursing school?

    There are at least 16 hours of homework (reading, preparing for clinical) per week for PNE 161, PNE 162, PNE 173, and PNE 163. This does not include library time or driving time. Clinical experience may require you to visit the clinical site the day before to receive your assignment and prepare for giving safe and competent care the next day.

    How much will I need to study?

    About 12 hours per week for the major practical nursing courses: PNE 161, PNE 162, PNE 173, and PNE 163.

    How many different teachers will I have?

    You’ll have a different teacher for almost all of the general education courses; you will have a minimum of 3-4 nursing instructors, counting clinical instructors and classroom/lecture instructors.

    How long are the lectures?

    1-4 hours per session with breaks during longer sessions.

    If we miss a required day are we able to make it up?

    If it is excused by the nursing instructor prior to the absence.

    What extra money do we have to anticipate spending?

    Some expenses to consider are: gas, car repair, food, pens, paper supplies, and babysitting fees to name a few.

    What costs are required?

    You may spend up to $3525 -$3675 or more on uniforms, nursing books, and other expenses. See estimated costs.

    How many times may I take the pre-PN Entrance Exam? (ATI TEAS, 6th Edition)

    This test may be taken 3 times in an admission cycle. If you are not successful the first time, please consult the health sciences counselor for recommendations.

    What if I've had a lot of traffic tickets?

    Minor traffic offenses are not a problem. However, if you've been convicted of other criminal offenses you need to confidentially speak with the head of the program. Our facilities require criminal background checks and will not allow those with prior convictions to work in their facility. However, this does not prevent you from attending the nursing school program. However, to pass the clinical courses, you must be able to attend clinical.  Once you have completed the program, the Board of Nursing will review your case individually and decide if you will be allowed to obtain a license to practice nursing.




    SVCC PN Program Director - South Boston and Alberta

         Talbott, Jonette

         Professor of Practical Nursing
         L.P.N. Halifax/South Boston School of Nursing
         R.N. Danville Memorial Hospital School of Nursing
         B.S.N. Virginia Commonwealth University
         M.S.N. Old Dominion University

    Christanna Campus: Alberta PN Faculty

    Archer, Patricia

    Associate Professor of Practical Nursing

    L.P.N. BLM School of Practical Nursing at Community Memorial Hospital

    A.D.N. Vance Granville Community College

    B.S.N. Virginia Commonwealth University

    M.S.N. Walden University


    John H. Daniel Campus: South Boston P Faculty

    Hines-Bentley, Stacy

    Associate Professor of Practical Nursing
    R.N., B.S.N. University of Virginia
    M.S.N Old Dominion University


    Contact Us

    Rebecca Laben BSN RN MAEd
    Health Sciences Counselor