LPN Nurses: Basic Requirements, Training, Work Environment, Areas of Practice, Career Outlook, and Salary

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Licensed Practical Nurses are the healthcare professionals who take care of sick, injured or disabled. They cannot work independently and are guided by the RNs and doctors. LPN course is the fastest method of becoming a nurse. These professionals administer injections, measure blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and monitor the rate of respiration. They collect samples for testing and record fluid intake and output. They assist in nursing wounds, dressing, and providing medications. LPNs are even involved in monitoring the effectiveness of patient care plan.

When the patient is being treated s/he is facing a tough time both physically and mentally. So, LPNs can help him/her in explaining the probable options and providing a moral boost. The functionality of an LPN may differ depending on the state. Some selected states may allow them to assist in surgeries or participate actively in team discussion where the aim is to deliver the best care to the patient.

Basic Requirements to Enroll for LPN Training Programs

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  • The aspirant must have completed high school and should have attained 18 years of age.
  • A valid photo identification is a must.
  • S/he must not be involved in any illegal practice and should have no criminal record.
  • The candidate is required to successfully pass the drug test.
  • Some colleges conduct a screening test which is essential to be cleared for getting selected.

Work Environment

LVNs are an integral part of the healthcare industry. They render their services in different work settings such as:

1. Nursing Homes
A majority of the LPNs work in nursing homes, their primary duty includes dressing and bathing of the patients.

2. Hospital
According to research, 15% of licensed practical nurses work in hospitals where they are supervised by the senior doctors and nurses. Their work is same as in nursing homes.

3. Private Clinics
They even work in physician offices or clinics where they measure vital signs of the patients, escort them to their rooms, record their medical history, etc.

4. Health Care Services
They are employed by some health providers who provide nurses to assist patients at home. Some typical patients need LPN care every day. So, the nurse should be prepared to go anywhere where they are in demand.

5. Old Age Homes
Avery small number of LPNs work in retirement homes looking after the elderly people.The amount of work is relatively less as compared to other working places.

6. School
Schools hire nurses to provide treatment to the students in case of an injury or bad health like vomiting, dizziness, etc. The working hours depend on the school timings.

7. Rehabilitation Centers
Any person who has undergone surgery in a hospital is transferred to the rehabilitation center so that s/he can indulge in some exercises as directed by the therapist. LPNs also deal with people who want to get out of depression and quit an addiction.

LPN Training

LPNs are provided extensive training as this profession deals with the lives of the people. Their training is carried out in two phases- classroom training where they are acquainted with the basic terminologies and theoretical concepts. The second is supervised clinical practice, where they get opportunities to work in the real work settings, under the guidance of doctors and RNs. Generally, the course is of one year, but it can be shorter than that or as long as two years as some colleges provide a detailed and comprehensive syllabus.

These are the different branches that would be covered in an LPN course.

1. Anatomy and Physiology
It includes the classification of a human body and introduction of the skeletal and nervous system. A detailed study of cell functions, digestive system, the circulatory and respiratory system is carried out.

2. Pharmacology
In this, the student comes across the variety of drugs that can be used to cure the diseases, how they work in our body, and what are their side-effects.

3. Administration of Medications
The students are taught to administer medications to the patients as prescribed by the doctors.

4. Legal and Ethical Responsibilities
Nurses have a high level of responsibility towards their profession and patients. The students are taught to stay updated regarding medicines and take decisions that benefit the patients.

5. Nutrition
Nutrition is an alternative to medicine. Nurses are given information about the nutritional value of the food, importance of a balanced diet, impacts of junk food and the role of nutritional supplements.

6. Common Diseases
Students learn about different infectious diseases, bacteria and how they affect the human body.

7. Rehabilitative Nursing Care
Information on how to care for patients to return to normal life post their surgery is shared with the students.

8. Restorative Nursing Care
Restorative therapy is not same as rehabilitation therapy. Aspirants get to know how to help patients to maintain and achieve the psychosocial, mental and physical functions, after rehab care.

9. Nursing Interventions for Patient Care
Nursing interventions are the treatments that are carried out for the welfare of the patient. The nurse has to consider which action would suit the best.

10. Cultural Differences in Caring for Patients
Patients come from diverse background, and they would like to be assisted by a culturally competent nurse. So, this branch deals with how to look after the culturally different patients.

11. Leadership Principles
The study lays emphasis on the leadership principles needed to work in an effective manner.

Areas of Practice for LPNs

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There is a wide range of exciting areas where LPNs can practice. These are:

  • Pediatrics
  • Labor and Delivery
  • Neonatal
  • Oncology
  • Neuro ICU
  • Trauma ICU
  • Burn Unit
  • Cardiac ICU
  • Emergency Room
  • Gerontology

Necessary Skills to Become an LPN

1. Communication Skills
Good communication skills is a basic requirement for any career. The nurse must have the ability to interact with others in a respectable and polite way. The licensed practical nurse must maintain a good behavioral conduct regardless the way a patient is reacting. At times, they can even lighten the atmosphere by adding a tinge of humor in order to reduce the sufferings of the patient and family. They should be able to follow and understand clearly all the instructions given to them.

2. Mental Strength
Nursing is not for those with a weak heart as they witness traumatic situations everyday . LPNs must be physically strong and mentally stable. They should be able to balance and face stress or pressure at work instead of panicking. Problem-solving ability in an LPN helps a lot.

3. Caring
An LPN nurse should be caring. S/he must feel concerned for others and be compassionate towards them. Nurses, having this quality understand their patient and it improves the quality of service. Patients look forward to nurses who empathize with them.

4. Accountability
A person interested in becoming a nurse must understand that the best possible care of the patients is his/her responsibility. Patients meal, medicine, and routine activities should be carried out without any errors and in time.

5. Attention to Detail
Even a simple mistake can play havoc in patient's life. Paying attention to detail helps avoid any errors. Nurses must be careful in reading the patients' chart and while assisting them with medicines.

6. Flexibility
In this profession, the individual needs to be flexible with working hours. Since the patient needs around the clock care, they can be called up at any time, be it a weekend, holiday or night.

Career Prospects for LPNs

16% growth is projected by the BLS in the employment of LPNs, between 2014 and 2024. An aging population, the prevalence of chronic diseases, easy access to health insurance to individuals due to reforms in federal health insurance, and increasing demand for healthcare services are some of the reasons for the growth of job vacancies for these professionals. Ambulatory care settings, outpatient care centers, and other extended care facilities will witness many job openings for licensed practical nurses.

Salary of LPNs

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As per the reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly and annual income of LPNs was $20.87 and $43,420 per annum, in May 2014. The top-paying states were Connecticut, Alaska, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Nevada.

According to the estimates of payscale.com, LPNs made $18.15 per hour (as of Jan 16, 2016). According to the indeed.com, the average annual salary of these professionals on March 15, 2016, was $51,000.

Annual Salary of Professionals with Related Job Title

Clinical Nurse LPN

$37,000

LPN Cma Rma

$30,000

LPN Primary Care

$46,000

LPN Long Term Care

$33,000

Nar Nursing Assistant Hope

$25,000

Psychiatric Nurse

$57,000

Long Term Care LPN

$27,000

LPN LVN

$41,000

Nurse RN LPN

$49,000

CNA Medical Surgical

$27,000

Medical Assistant Family Practice

$29,000

Correctional Prison Facility

$23,000

Patient Care Technician

$17,000

LPN Ambulatory

$34,000

Renal Dialysis Nurse

$52,000

Information Source: indeed.com

Psychiatric Nurses were the highest paid nurses with an average yearly income of $57,000. Renal Dialysis Nurses made $52,000. The salary of other LPN nurses was between $17,000 and $52,000.

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