Licensed Practical Nurse

What Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do?

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are also known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in Texas and California. They perform both simple and complex medical procedures and tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. They can administer medications and injections, perform measurements like taking vital signs, keep records including medical histories, perform CPR, administer basic care, educate patients and families about medical conditions and treatments, collect lab samples, and maintain sterile conditions. In private practices, LPNs can answer telephones, make appointments, keep records and other clerical tasks. They are considered to be one step higher on the medical ladder than Certified Nursing Assistants, often supervising them, and have more career options as well. LPNs can work in hospitals, private clinics, assisted living facilities and community clinics as well. The majority of licensed practical nurses are generalists and are able to work in a variety of medical disciplines and specialties.

How Can I Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Those interested in becoming a licensed practical nurse must first obtain a high school diploma and enroll in an approved LPN program. These programs can vary in length depending on the school, the specialty and the state of residence but generally last for one year. All of these programs will afford the student knowledge in the fields of anatomy, nursing theory, nursing ethics, psychology, physiology, pharmacology, and medication administration. The average cost of licensed practical nursing programs is around $2,000. As they generally last one year, the monetary commitment is minimal. Following the successful completion of a nursing program, a nurse is required to take and pass the national licensing exam, NCLEX-PN. It covers safe and effective care environments, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. These exams are administered by individual states, so check with your state’s licensing board for information regarding test dates and times.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Currently there are around 700,000 LPNs and LVNs working in the United States, 92 percent of which are women. Males are rare in the licensed practical nursing profession, but are steadily becoming more popular. On average, an LPN can earn around $31,000-$45,000 per year or $15-$20 per hour depending on their geographic location, experience level and the health care facility. The general career outlook for licensed practical nurses is very positive for the next several years. This is due in part to the aging and growing population needing increased health care services as well as the current nursing shortage. As demand is higher than supply, in terms of medical professionals, licensed professional nurses should not have trouble finding employment in the coming years. Many licensed practical nurses find the career highly rewarding as they can apply their education and training to help heal and even save ill patients.