Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description
Licensed practical nurses (also referred to as LPNs) care for injured, disabled, sick, or convalescing patients. They are normally supervised by a doctor or registered nurse.
LPNs have the knowledge and training required to perform routine nursing duties like checking blood pressure, taking temperatures, and recording vital signs. Depending on the environment they work in, LPNs may have many other responsibilities as well. Here are a few of the most common:
- Administering medications prescribed by a physician.
- Maintaining patient charts and reporting changes in the patient’s conditions.
- Collecting blood, urine and other samples for laboratory tests.
- Helping patients dress, eat, and bathe.
- Assembling and using equipment such as tracheotomy tubes, catheters, and oxygen suppliers.
Some states limit the types of work that LPNs can do. For example, some states allow LPNs to start IV drips or administer medications, but not all do. Additionally, states have different rules governing the amount of supervision licensed practical nurses need while performing certain tasks.
If you’re looking for a career in healthcare that’s in high demand and has a lot of potential for advancement, then working as a licensed practical nurse could be a great choice.
Work Environment and Schedule
Most licensed practical nurses are employed by hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and other extended healthcare facilities.
LPNs spend the majority of their shifts working on their feet. They also have to help lift patients who have difficulty moving, standing, or walking. Minor injuries like muscle strains are fairly common among people in this profession. Though it isn’t consistently physically demanding, the work can be exhausting.
This can be a stressful occupation at times, particularly when a facility is especially busy or when patients are uncooperative or rude.
LPNs can be exposed to many illnesses and diseases on the job. Taking the proper safety precautions can help reduce the risk of getting sick, but it’s impossible to eliminate the risk altogether.
The working schedule for LPNs varies greatly depending on the type of facility they work for. Those who work in a physician’s office are often able to maintain a regular working schedule during normal business hours, but those who work in 24 hour care facilities have more irregular schedules. Working nights, weekends, and holidays is common.
Most licensed practical nurses work full time, but there are many part time opportunities available as well.
How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse
The first step to becoming a licensed practical nurse is to complete an accredited practical nursing program. These programs are common offered by community colleges and technical schools, and normally take about a year to complete. Graduates from these programs receive a certificate in practical nursing.
Practical nursing programs include both classroom training and hands on experience. Classroom training includes subjects in pharmacology, biology, and nursing. Hands on training takes place in a clinical setting, where students work under the supervision of an experienced nurse.
To find an accredited practical nursing program where you live, contact your state’s board of nursing.
After earning a certificate in practical nursing, graduates need to take the National Council Licensure Examination. Before you can take the exam, you will need to apply to your board of nursing and register with Pearson VUE.
Many LPNs move on to supervisory nursing positions as they get experience in the field. Others continue their education, and advance to registered nurse positions.
There are currently 752,300 licensed practical nurses in the United States, with 36,920 new licensed practical nurse job openings created each year.
Licensed Practical Nurse jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Licensed Practical Nurse Salaries
Licensed Practical Nurse salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most licensed practical nurses make between $34,700 – $47,900 per year, or $16.67 – $23.04 per hour.