A licensed practical nurse (LPN) also known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), depending on the state, is the first nurse a patient usually sees in a doctor’s office and at many hospitals. All LPNs work very closely with patients in a variety of settings helping to provide basic medical care. Working as an LPN is fast paced, challenging and exciting work – no two days are ever the same.
To become a licensed practical nurse, you must enroll in a nursing school or an accredited community college program. The average time to complete these programs is two years. Most programs are composed of two parts, both classroom and on-site job training. LPN curriculums focus on anatomy, using medical equipment, physiology, drug administration and psychiatric nursing techniques. Recently, there has been a rise in online classroom education courses, so now you can complete classes while working. After you have completed the program you can take the required national exam N-CLEX-PN to be a certified LPN. Depending on the state in which you wish to practice, you may also need to pass a state board exam. At this point in your nursing career you can start work, but it will be at the lowest level of certification available to nurses in the U.S. But once you achieve this certification, you can decide whether or not you want to continue your training to become a registered nurse (RN) or perhaps go for a specialty certificate.
The expected annual salary of a licensed practical nurse just out of school is approximately $28,000. The average salary of an LPN is close to $39,000 a year with the top 10% making close to $54,000 annually. Please note that all salaries can be more or less depending on the state you work in and the resources available to the facility in which you are employed. Most nurses can expect yearly raises as they gain experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical nurses working in physician’s offices earn the least, while LPNs working in employment services earn the highest salaries followed by nursing care facilities. However, the practice settings that currently have the highest demand for LPNs are home health care businesses and long term care facilities, so this could be changing as the demand changes.
As an LPN you could work in a variety of different health care settings, depending on what you prefer and what is available in your area. You can choose between hospitals, private offices, hospice care, clinics, long-term care facilities and home health care. In most cases, a licensed practical nurse will be working closely with nursing assistants and orderlies under the supervision of physicians or RNs. It’s estimated that there are over 700,000 individuals working as LPNs and LVNs within the USA. Since the demand for LPNs is growing there has been in increase in traveling LPNs. A traveling licensed practical nurse will work in a certain facility for a short amount of time (less than a year) and then move to a new facility. Travel nursing work isn’t ideal for everyone but if you have the freedom to do it, you’ll earn more money and great experiences.
As mentioned, a LPN works very closely with patients. A licensed practical nurse takes patient vital signs, reviews charts, and dispenses medications that physicians prescribe, as well as administers injections and collects samples. LPNs also help patients perform basic functions if they can’t do so on their own, like helping them to bathe, eat or use the toilet. It’s important that these types of nurses have a disposition that won’t cause embarrassment to their patients in uncomfortable situations. They must also have a positive mental attitude and be physically fit. An LPN is constantly surrounded by ill patients and the job can be very stressful and demanding. At times a licensed practical nurse will be required to supervise orderlies and nursing assistants, delegating jobs for them to do and ensuring that their tasks are completed successfully and on time. If you love to work with people and help them do things they can’t do for themselves, this might be wonderfully rewarding nursing job for you.