One of the most demanding yet rewarding careers in the medical field is that of being an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). LPN’s perform a very wide variety of duties while assisting doctors, therapists, and registered nurses, such as monitoring a patient’s vital signs, dressing wounds, administering medications and drugs to patients, and keeping records which doctors examine in order to know more about the patient they are treating. LPN’s can gain specialized knowledge of specific areas of medicine while enrolled in a nursing program and work exclusively in maternity wards, burn units, or pediatric wings of hospitals. Other LPN’s can be hired by convalescing patients who prefer to recuperate at home.
Education required to become a certified LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) generally takes about one year at a community college or vocational school, and involves intensive class work augmented with laboratory exercises involving pathology, chemistry, interpreting vital signs, and the proper procedure for dispensing certain medications. All fifty states require that an LPN graduate pass the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing). This test is intended to check the ability of a nursing program graduate to competently perform the job she or he was trained to do by analyzing their knowledge of nursing concepts and critical thinking aptitudes. Since one of the LPN’s multiple duties is to decide what would be the most important issue to deal with in regard to a patient’s physical or mental crises, the NCLEX-PN does not emphasize memorization as much as the ability to intuit solutions to a patient’s suffering.
The NCLEX-PN also consists of questions that involve a patient’s needs, such as maintaining a safe and clean environment, infection control, fundamentals of patient care, and communication skills. A majority of the questions are multiple choice, but the Boards of Nursing have initiated changes in the past ten years regarding questions involving algebraic calculations with real-life medical word problems, identification of selected body parts, and deciding which medical procedure should be done first. The test should be anticipated by the nursing program graduate and taken very seriously, as it does involve a great deal of information.
A successful, gifted LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) should be an empathetic, patient, gentle individual which readily understands the needs of someone who is physically or mentally unable fully to care for himself. The ability to always be calm and rational in an emergency medical situation is a must, also, along with first-rate observational and communication skills, which will facilitate relationships between the patients he or she is caring for, and the RN’s and doctors he or she will be closely working with. There is a certain amount of flexibility regarding promotion of an LPN to becoming a “charge” nurse who will supervise other new LPN’s and teach them important information about being a good LPN. This chance for promotion may lead some LPN’s to decide to pursue a career as a registered nurse or physician’s assistant.