Nursing: LPN, Certificate


Nursing Handbook (PDF)

Student Achievement Data (PDF)


The Practical Nursing (PN) certificate program prepares graduates for entry into the nursing profession as a practical nurse. Practical nurses work under the direction of a licensed registered nurse, licensed physician or dentist. The program includes 27 credits of nursing courses and 16 credits of general education courses and can be completed in one calendar year. It is offered at the Monroe and Bethlehem campus locations.

Graduates who successfully complete the program are eligible to apply to a State Board of Nursing for licensure as a licensed practical nurse and to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN®). This examination is used by the State Board of Nursing to test the entry-level nursing competence of candidates for licensure as licensed practical nurses. When the candidate successfully completes the NCLEX-PN® exam, a license is issued. Information about the NCLEX-PN® exam is available at www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm.

Students are admitted to the program once a year, in the fall semester. The curriculum focuses on the art and science of nursing, and is taught in classroom, college skills laboratory, and clinical practice settings. Students attend class, skills laboratory and clinical simulation experiences on campus. Additionally, students participate in clinical learning experiences in various healthcare settings and simulated clinical experiences under the guidance of nursing faculty. Clinical learning experiences provide students with the opportunity to apply nursing theory in client care situations. Clinical settings include acute and long term care, in-patient and outpatient facilities.

Class, lab and simulation experiences are scheduled during the day. Most clinical experiences are scheduled during the day between the hours of 6:30 am and 5:00 pm. The college reserves the right to schedule clinical experiences during the evening and/or on weekends if necessary.

General Education courses in the nursing curriculum are offered in traditional and online format during the day and evening. Students may elect to complete general education courses prior to entering the program. All students are encouraged to consult an academic advisor.

View Gainful Employment information on the Nursing: LPN certificate.

Career Potential

Graduates of the program find jobs in a variety of health care settings including long-term care facilities, home health care agencies, state and federal health-related facilities, private duty nursing, clinics, and office settings.

Accreditation Information

The Practical Nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc., 3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA 30326, 404.975.5000, http://www.acenursing.org and is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Responses to frequently asked questions about the PN Certificate program are available here (PDF).

For More Information Contact:

Nursing Department, Penn Hall 120 C, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18020. Telephone: 610.861.5376.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Practical Nursing certificate program is selective. Applicants must have coursework completed equal to a standard high school course with a minimum of 16 units including 4 units of English, 3 units of Social Sciences, 2 units of Mathematics (one of which is Algebra), and 2 units of Science with a related laboratory or the equivalent.

The minimum admission requirements to the program include:

  • Completion of high school biology* with a grade of C or better.

    *An acceptable substitute for high school biology is NCC BIOS115 with a grade of C or better.

  • One year of high school Algebra** with a C or better

    **an acceptable substitute for Algebra, it is NCC MATH022 with a grade of C or better.

  • Courses used as admission criteria cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Please note: Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission to the Nursing program. Primary consideration is given to those who have received a grade of B or better in the program sciences on the first attempt. If available spaces in the program are not filled by students who have met the aforementioned standards, the College reserves the right to accept students who have, in the judgment of the College, the potential to complete the Practical Nursing program.


In order to be considered for program admission, an application and all transcripts must be submitted by February 1st for fall admission. Applications received after these dates will be reviewed on a space available basis. Contact the Admission Office at 610-861-5500 for additional information.

Nursing Health Requirements

The nursing program health requirements are determined by the Nursing Department, affiliating clinical agencies, the College and by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

Students are responsible for maintaining compliance with the health requirements annually as outlined below.

  • Prior to the first semester students must submit the following documents to the Health and Wellness Center:
    • Completed physical examination
    • Two Step Tuberculin Skin Test - acceptable only if done after April 1st for fall admission.
    • Copy of current health insurance card (All students are required to carry health insurance during the program)
    • Urine drug screen results
      • The nursing program of study includes clinical experiences in a variety of healthcare settings. Clinical agencies require evidence of a negative urine drug screen before permitting a student to participate in clinical experiences at their facility. Therefore, any student with a positive urine drug screen cannot remain in the program.
    • Records of up to date immunizations or blood titers reflecting immunity against:
      • MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) - 2 doses are required if born after 1957
      • Td (Tetanus and Diphtheria) - last dose must be within 10 years.
      • Hepatitis B - series of 3 immunizations and Hepatitus B titer
      • Varicella - 2 doses are needed (if received after age 13) or history of Chicken Pox disease.
      • Seasonal Flu
      • Additional immunizations may be required by clinical agencies such as, but not limited to, H1N1 vaccinations.

The Nursing Department reserves the right to withdraw the student from a clinical experience and ultimately the course and program if at any time the student's health requirements are out of compliance.

CPR Certification

Documentation of certification in Basic Life Support (CPR) for Health Care Providers must be submitted to the Nursing Department prior to participating in clinical experiences in the first semester. Certification must remain current throughout the program. Certification courses are available through NCC and the American Heart Association

Essential Functions

Students admitted to the Practical Nursing program are expected to perform the same essential functions of an employment position as a licensed Practical Nurse. The essential functions are the basic cognitive, psychomotor, and affective activities that are essential to successful completion of the NCC Practical Nursing curriculum leading to initial licensure as a nurse. Essential functions are categorized as: Sensory (tactile, visual, hearing and smell) communication, psychomotor (gross motor skills, fine motor skills, physical endurance, physical strength, mobility), intellectual and cognitive abilities (reading, arithmetic competence, analytic thinking, and critical thinking), professional and social attributes (interpersonal skills, and communication) and application of legal/ethical principles and professional standards. All students are required to meet these essential functions. Allowing for individual differences, and encouraging program completion for students with a documented disability, the Nursing Program will work with the student and Disability Services to provide any reasonable accommodation to meet these essential functions. Contact the Nursing Department at 610.861.5376 if you have questions regarding these requirements. A detailed description of these Essential Functions can be found here (PDF).

Background Checks

All convictions and pending or new charges known to the program applicant must be reported to the Nursing Program Director immediately upon offer of program admission. These include all felony and misdemeanor convictions.

After acceptance, but before starting the program, students are required to submit results of Pennsylvania State Police, FBI criminal background checks and Pennsylvania Child and Elder Abuse History Clearances to the nursing department for review.

Program admission is considered conditional pending receipt and evaluation of the background checks and drug screen. Students with a positive urine drug screen or Child Abuse History are not eligible for program admission. PA State Police and FBI Criminal History Check results are reviewed on a case by case basis.

Please be advised that licensing and credentialing bodies may apply their own standards to determine what convictions would disqualify a candidate for licensure. A student with a positive background check who completes the program is not guaranteed licensure.

Act 1985-109 known as the Professional Nursing Law of the Laws of Pennsylvania declares the following: "...The Board shall not issue a license or certificate to an applicant who has been convicted of a felonious act prohibited by the act of April 14, 1971 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as 'The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act', or convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance in a court of law of the United States or any other state, territory, or country unless:

  1. at least ten (10) years have elapsed from the date of conviction;
  2. the applicant satisfactorily demonstrates to the board that he has made progress in personal rehabilitation since the conviction such that licensure of the applicant should not be expected to create a substantial risk of harm to the health and safety of patients or the public or a substantial risk of further criminal violations; and
  3. the applicant otherwise satisfies the qualifications contained in or authorized by this act.

Sections 133.14. and 15.1 of the Professional Nursing Law imply the will of the legislature in relation to felonies and misdemeanors reflecting questions about moral character.

As used in this section the term 'convicted' shall include a judgment, an admission of guilt or a plea of nolo contendere. An applicant's statement on the application declaring the absence of a conviction shall be deemed satisfactory evidence of the absence of a conviction, unless the board has some evidence to the contrary. Contact the Admissions Office at 610.861.5500 or the Nursing Department at 610.861.5376 for further information.

A nursing student must inform the Director of Nursing Programs immediately if there is a change in the criminal background or child abuse clearance while enrolled in the Practical Nursing program. In these circumstances the student's eligibility to continue in the program will be re-evaluated.

Professional Conduct

Nursing students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner in accordance with the Policy on Professional Student Conduct, the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics (PDF) and the Classroom and Clinical Behavioral Expectations for the Student of Professional Nursing (PDF) documents found in the nursing student handbook.


A student must maintain a grade of "C" or better in all nursing courses. The policy addressing options for repeating a nursing course can be found in the Practical Nursing Student Handbook (PDF).


The graduate of the Practical Nursing Program will:

  1. Demonstrate completion of the curriculum objectives and associated competencies:
    1. Assist in the application of the nursing process to provide nursing care to individuals across the lifespan through efficient and effective use of resources in structured health care settings.
    2. Communicate effectively with patients, their support systems, and the health care team through the use of interpersonal skills and technology.
    3. Assess the health status and health care needs of patients through the collection of data within established protocols and guidelines.
    4. Employ basic clinical decision making based on critical thinking skills to deliver safe effective nursing care under the supervision of an experienced registered nurse, physician, or dentist.
    5. Demonstrate caring interventions based on accepted standards of care and the physiologic and psychosocial needs of the patient.
    6. Collaborate with patients, support persons, members of the health care team and community agencies to provide patient-centered quality care.
    7. Utilize the teaching-learning processes to promote, maintain, and restore health to individuals within their communities.
    8. Demonstrate professional accountability and commitment to standards of professional practice while practicing nursing within legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks.
  2. Students will be prepared to successfully complete the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN®).
  3. Students will be satisfied with their nursing education.
  4. Students will be prepared for and gain employment in a variety of settings.


First Semester

BIOS160Human Biology

4 credits

ENGL101English I

3 credits

NURS101Intro to Nursing

8 credits

PSYC103Introduction to Psychology

3 credits

Total Credit Hours:18

Second Semester

NURS151Medical-Surgical Nursing for PN

8 credits

PSYC258Developmental Psychology

3 credits

SOCA103Principles of Sociology

3 credits

Total Credit Hours:14

Third Semester (Summer)

NURS205Geriatric Nursing for the PN

4 credits

NURS206Maternal Nursing for the PN

4 credits

NURS207Mental Health Nrsg for the PN

3 credits

Total Credit Hours:11

Total Credit Hours: 43

* Please note: A student is not permitted to progress to the next semester in the program without successful completion of general studies courses in that current semester.;