Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description
If you have ever dreamed of becoming a nurse and caring for patients, getting a job as a licensed practical nurse is a great start when entering the healthcare field.
Licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, provide basic care to sick or injured patients in various healthcare settings such as medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. Some LPNs also work in a residential setting caring for patients in their own homes.
The ultimate goal of LPN work is to coordinate with other members of a healthcare team with a focus to restore a patient to their best level of health.
LPNs usually work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners, physician assistants, doctors, and other medical practitioners.
Some job candidates first choose to go the route of an LPN before becoming an RN. Although quite rewarding in its own right, LPN work has more limitations and fewer responsibilities than the job of an RN.
Practicing as an LPN involves directly caring for patients as well as administrative tasks. As an LPN, you may be responsible for:
- Documenting and recording vital signs such as pulse, blood pressure, etc., and monitoring patients
- Ensuring that patients are comfortable and have their basic needs met
- Assisting a patient in dressing and/or bathing
- Administration of some medications or drawing of blood
- Inserting catheters whenever necessary
- Dressing wounds and changing bandages
- Assisting with medical procedures or testing
- Adhering to a patient’s care plan
- Helping a patient to become more ambulatory as they recover
- Reporting patient concerns
Each state has its own rules and laws that define the precise duties that an LPN can perform. For instance, some states will not allow an LPN to start an IV, while other states permit it.
Some state laws also dictate how much supervision an LPN must have in performing their duties.
In some states, an LPN may be referred to as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN).
Licensed Practical Nurse Salary
As of May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary for a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, is $51,850, or $24.93 per hour.
California, Alaska, Washington, and Massachusetts pay higher LPN salaries than other states in the U.S.
The BLS also shows that the majority of LPNs in the U.S. work in skilled nursing facilities such as nursing homes, home health care, and doctor’s offices.
The majority of LPN jobs are concentrated along the eastern and southern U.S. and California.
For instance, a quick internet search shows that Kaiser Permanente has 2,799 open licensed vocational nurse job positions in California alone. Kaiser Permanente’s business model provides insurance plans and healthcare providers and services within one unique organization.
Middlesex Health is often seeking experienced LPNs to fill licensed practical nurse jobs at several locations across the state of Connecticut.
In Massachusetts, the Nevins Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre is continually seeking talented LPNs to fill these roles in patient care.
Licensed Practice Nursing Training and Requirements
LPN work is highly rewarding and a great way to enter nursing without having to commit to four years of college.
You will usually first need to have a high school diploma or GED.
Training to become a licensed practical nurse requires the completion of a certification program at an accredited practical nursing education facility. These courses are typically offered at a community college and can be completed in about a year or two.
Some example courses include nursing, biology, and pharmacology as well as clinical hands-on training that prepares you for real-world experiences in the nursing field.
Once you receive certification as an LPN, you will need to become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).
In addition to the required education, strong interpersonal skills are essential to work effectively as an LPN.
Licensed practical nurses sometimes do the heavy lifting of nursing work and work long shifts. Therefore, having the physical stamina to continually care for patients is paramount.
LPN candidates should also be kind and patient, exhibit compassion, have strong decision-making skills, communicate and work well with others, and be professional at all times. LPNs also work in a fast-paced environment so being able to work under pressure is a must.
It goes without saying that LPNs are exposed to many sights and situations while caring for patients and tolerance in dealing with those situations, including blood, is essential.
In the end, becoming an LPN is rewarding and fulfilling and a great way to have an impact on the lives of others when they need it the most.