Have you ever wondered, “What is an LVN?” A Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) is an entry-level health care provider who usually works directly under an RN (Registered Nurse) or doctor, and takes care of numerous day-to-day patient care responsibilities. Because LVNs are often closer to the patients, and better aware of their individual statuses and requirements than almost every other caregiver, they’re forever in demand and are among the most-important members of any medical care team. Hospitals, clinics, and long-term care providers all rely to a great extent upon well-trained teams of Licensed Vocational Nurses to keep everything moving smoothly and to properly tend to their patients’ needs.

What Does an LVN Do?

Collecting samples, treating wounds, feeding and bathing patients, reading and documenting vital signs, and overseeing medical equipment are only some of the many duties that an LVN typically performs. Although the limitations differ from state to state, LVNs are generally not allowed to do such things as push IV medications (although they are permitted to start IVs almost everywhere) or administer patients any other types of drugs unless explicitly ordered by a physician or Registered Nurse.

How Do I Become an LVN?

In order to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse, you must first enroll in and pass an accredited LVN training course that features the required number of hours. Curriculum requirements for LVN (or LPN, as they’re termed outside of Texas and California) programs vary by state, but California’s requirement of 1,530 total hours of study consisting of over 900 hours of Clinical instruction and almost 600 of combined Pharmacology and Theory is rather typical. Required material for accredited courses generally includes subjects like Communicable Diseases, Nursing Fundamentals, Nutrition, Pharmacology, Psychology, Anatomy and Physiology, Leadership, and Gerontological Nursing.

In an example that is fairly reflective of what the majority of states require, LVN programs in California demand that applicants be a minimum of 17 years of age, and hold either a high school diploma or its equivalent (a GED, for example).

Upon finishing your training curriculum, the second (and most critical) step toward becoming an LVN is to obtain your license. Becoming licensed requires you to successfully pass a standardized evaluation called the NCLEX-PN, which is a multiple-choice test designed to confirm your understanding of the following four areas:

• Creating and maintaining a safe and effective care environment
• Health promotion and maintenance
• Fundamentals of psychosocial integrity
• Fundamentals of physiological integrity

What is an LVN’s Salary?

As with any other profession, LVNs have a wide pay scale based on various factors but the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics did report in 2011 that the average annual salary for the profession ranges from $ 28,912 to $ 55,120. The average LVN salary can vary greatly depending upon which part of the state a person works in, which type of facility he or she works at, and how much practical experience he or she has.

What is an LVN’s Long-Term Job Outlook?

With the health care field likely to expand significantly as the nation’s population becomes older during the next 20 years, demand for LVNs is predicted to be extremely high. In fact, by the majority of estimates, California by itself will have to add at least 150,000 new Licensed Vocational Nurses over the next seven years just to keep pace with demand. If you are thinking of embarking on a fast-paced, rewarding career as an LVN, the future is so bright that you may have to wear sunglasses.

If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse, please stop by Ayla Ward’s blog on LVN programs in California. Ayla is a 21-year-old vocational nursing student, and her blog offers her insight into this exciting career, and issues that concern students an LVN schools in California and elsewhere.

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