What does a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) do?
A licensed practical nurse cares for the basic medical needs of a patient through monitoring their blood pressure and other vital signs and providing the person with the necessities of basic comforts like bathing or other needs.
LPNs work in a variety of health care systems. Settings can range from clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, extended care facilities, clinics, and even private practices.
How to Become an LPN
A licensed practical nurse is required to complete an approved educational program that normally takes 1 year in order to obtain a diploma or certificate. Programs are available in community colleges, technical schools and occasionally, in hospitals or high schools. These programs should teach courses in biology, pharmacology, and nursing. Every program would give supervised clinical experience.
After receiving a diploma or certificate, the LPN would take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) in order to get a license to work. The exam is five hours long. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the national pass rate in 2015 for the NCLEX-PN was 81.89% for first-time test takers that were educated in United States.
When looking for LPN programs, look for a school that has high licensure exam pass rates for the students who completed the program. This information can be acquired when applying to a LPN program. Some programs may list their exam results on the school’s website or when applying you can inquire when speaking to an admission advisor before committing to start an LPN program. Also, don’t forget to make sure the program is accredited and officially recognized by the boards of nursing. It must be accredited for you to sit for the exam. If they are not you cannot register to take the NCLEX-PN exam and will be unable to get licensed.
LPNs can also take advanced programs available through professional associations in specialized areas. According to the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, LPNs can be trained in medication treatment, specialized procedures, or critical care interventions.
By the way, working as an LPN can also lead to continuing your education to become a Registered Nurse. Many schools offer bridge programs that take into account your LPN schooling and work experience, making it easy to transition.
LPN to RN bridge programs continue to build on the strong foundation LPNs have in patient care and train in more advanced skills such as complex nursing assessments, pharmacology, and treatment care. Therefore an LPN certificate or diploma can also be used as a stepping-stone into a nursing career.
Job Description of an LPN
Depending on each states regulations, the duties of an LPN may include more involved medical care such as inserting catheters, intravenous drips (IVs), deliver babies, or giving approved medication. They would be responsible for keeping accurate records of a patient such as their history, diagnosis, progress, and any new medical problem that may occur and inform the doctor or registered nurse. He or she is overseen by a doctor or registered nurse.
Most LPN’s work full time and the schedule can be intense because you are constantly on your feet. Schedules vary, but a lot of times include night shifts, weekends, and holidays because for the most part LPN employment settings keep patients for an extended period and care is given around the clock for 24-hours.
Many facilities require work hours to exceed the normal 8-hour shifts. Therefore according to the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses it is necessary to have physical strength and stamina due to providing a large share of the direct care to patients being treated.
A LPN should be compassionate, patient in difficult situations, and have interpersonal skills. They should have the ability to communicate clearly and be an attentive listener.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an above average growth rate in this career field which can be directly related to the longer life span of the aging populations due to medical advancements, progression of chronic conditions such as diabetes, the obesity epidemic, and enhanced access to medical insurance for many that were uninsured before.