Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational nurses, as they are called in Texas and California, work in nursing homes, extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices and in private homes under the supervision of physicians or registered nurses. LPNs help patients with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating and toileting. They dress wounds, install catheters, start IVs, monitor equipment, check vital signs, deliver medications and much more. While basic, their responsibilities are absolutely imperative to the quality of care. Among all care givers they have the most intimate hands-on relationship with their patients.
The ideal LPN is a natural at building relationships. They are empathetic, trusting, flexible, good listeners and energetic. Most LPNs struggle initially with elements of the job such as toileting or exposure to blood, but the satisfaction derived from their patient relationships quickly mitigates those issues.
LVN’s work full-time and might be scheduled during the day, evening or night. The work environment is team oriented and fast paced, but highly compassionate and professional.
How does it feel to be a practical nurse?
While the proximity to patient’s body functions and often-serious health issues may seem unpleasant, LPNs find the impact they have on patients’ lives to be extraordinarily rewarding. They often become the closest companions and confidants to their patients and their families. LPNs are part of a very caring community which includes not only physicians and nurses, but rehabilitation and social therapists as well as aids and administrators.
The demand for LVNs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, will grow by 25 percent between 2012-22 creating 182,900 new positions and more than 363,000 openings generated by the retirement of older nurses. The career path for LPNs is varied. Many return to school for an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree and become Registered Nurses. Registered Nurses supervise LPNs, administer medications, perform diagnostic tests, record patient histories and symptoms, manage patients’ care plans, and consult more extensively with physicians. LPNs might also move into administrative roles in health care settings. Many experienced LVNs go into nursing education.
To enter the profession, one must attend and satisfy the requirements of a 9-12-month program and take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical nurses.
LPN is ranked #41 of the 100 Best Jobs by the US News and World Report.