What a Vocational Nurse Can Do
Jan. 8, 2018
A licensed vocational nurse, by definition, provides basic nursing care and works under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses. One might think the vocational nurse just makes and turns down beds, clean patients and empty bedpans. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The licensed vocational nurse can dress wounds, install catheters, start IVs, monitor equipment, check vital signs, deliver medications and more.
To learn more about all the various duties and responsibilities of the vocational nurse, we received some expert feedback. Carly Bradley, MSN, RN, a member of our Concorde nursing faculty at our campus in Kansas City, Mo.
Here is some of what Bradley had to say.
Vocational nurse/practical nurse – more than bedpans
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that LPNs comprised 724,000 jobs in 2016. Of those, roughly 38 percent were employed in skilled nursing facilities. The rest of the vocational nurse population is employed by physician offices, hospitals, home health, assisted living facilities and other areas. Employment of vocational nurses are expected to grow 12 percent from 2016-26, faster than the average for all other professions.
“Many people may not know the difference between a vocational nurse and registered nurse,” Bradley said. “Both are exciting and fulfilling careers in health care.
“The difference is one of scope. Job responsibilities increase as the nurse’s level of education and licensure increases.”
Bradley said the role of the nurse is to provide care to patients around the clock and to function as an advocate for the patient. The nurse is vital to the interdisciplinary team as they interact with the patient more than any other specialty. They often are the first to recognize changes and are vital to the timeliness of needed patient care.
“There is a saying, ‘Behind every good doctor is a great nurse!’,” Bradley said.
Dynamic scope of vocational nurse practice
The vocational nurse has a dynamic scope of practice that can range from bedside nursing to holding administrative roles, Bradley said. Duties typically include taking vital signs, charting, collecting lab specimens, monitoring patients’ health and assessments, fluid monitoring and maintenance, administering medications, collaborating with an interdisciplinary team, communicating with the physician, receiving and implementing orders and patient/family teaching.
“A wonderful aspect of nursing is that it is extremely diverse, and there are many available opportunities and roles,” Bradley said. “Each area of nursing is unique, as is every vocational nurse.”
It’s a great time to explore the opportunities of nursing and be a part of a forever changing, rewarding and in-demand career path! Check out Concorde’s nursing and vocational/practical nursing programs today!