Dramatic growth in the demand for medical services is creating more career opportunities for nurses. Licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, occupy a mid-level position in nursing, earning a solid salary with fewer educational requirements than a registered nurse. Licensed practical nurse training programs offer a direct, efficient means of launching a career in the nursing profession.
Overview of Licensed Practical Nursing
Licensed practical nurses provide essential care for patients dealing with illness, injury or the challenges of old age. As an LPN, you may work in a hospital, nursing home, clinic, nursing care facility or a patient’s private home. Key duties of a licensed practical nurse include:
Basic bedside care: LPNs monitor and record patients’ vital signs, administer injections, dress wounds, adjust catheters, record food and fluid intake, and maneuver patients into comfortable positions.
Assistance in activities of daily living: LPNs involved in long-term care may assist patients in performing basic functions of daily life, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and eating.
Clinical treatment support: Licensed practical nurses may collect samples for testing, perform basic lab tests, clean and maintain medical equipment, and assist physicians in treatment options.
Licensed practical nurses also train patients and their caregivers in basic care and healthy lifestyle choices. They may also perform tasks particular to their clinical context. For example, nursing care facility LPNs may develop long-term care plans and supervise nursing aides. In a doctor’s office, the LPN may lend a hand in completing administrative tasks, such as making appointments and maintaining patient records.
Your licensed practical nursing training offers opportunities to develop specialized skills in a supervised clinical environment.
Licensed Practical Nurse Training: Degrees and Coursework
Practical nursing offers a quick route into a stable, well-compensated nursing role. LPN training programs take only a year to complete, as opposed to two to four years for registered nursing degrees. You can find practical nursing certificate and diploma programs at vocational schools, junior colleges, technical training institutes, hospitals, and some colleges and universities. Most LPN training programs require a high school diploma or GED as a prerequisite for admission.
Licensed practical nurse training programs feature a combination of classroom instruction and supervised clinical practice.
Classroom learning introduces basic nursing concepts and medical knowledge. Courses cover biology, chemistry, anatomy, psychology, physiology, and nutrition. Specific medical practice courses include pharmacology, nutrition, emergency medical technology, and first aid. In addition, you might pursue classroom training in your prospective area of practice; options include medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics, and more.
Clinical rotations expose you to the practice of nursing and patient care at a particular facility such as a hospital, medical clinic, nursing home, mental health institution, or community health clinic. You’ll work under the supervision of a registered nurse or experienced LPN, building hands-on experience caring for patients. These clinical internships help you decide which medical practice area you might like to specialize in.
Following your formal LPN training, you’ll be eligible for national and state licensure. An LPN certificate or diploma qualifies you to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN. This computer-based exam covers four LPN competency areas, defined by NCLEX-PN as “safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiosocial integrity.” Exact licensure requirements vary by state.
Licensed Practical Nurse Career Outlook
Licensed practical nurses can expect a bright future, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job prospects should be very good, with predicted job growth of 21 percent between 2008 and 2018.
Rising demand for LPNs can be traced to demographic shifts and technological developments. Aging baby boomers are fueling demand for long-term care. Most of the new employment opportunities for LPNs should be concentrated in nursing homes, community care facilities, and home health services. At the same time, advancing technology is expanding care options. LPNs in medical clinics should see job growth due to increasing demand for these procedures.
A licensed practical nurse earns a healthy compensation, especially given their brief tour of duty in the classroom. According to the BLS, LPNs earned a median annual wage of $ 39,820 in 2009.
As the health care sector rallies to keep pace with the rising demand for medical services, employers are turning to licensed practical nurses for critical support. A licensed practical nurse training program qualifies you to lend a hand in essential patient care. In return, you’ll benefit from a stable, rewarding, well-paid career.