A licensed practical nurse (LPN) cares for sick, injured, disabled, and convalescent patients in an array of settings. Known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in Texas and California, LPNs typically provide hands-on care under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) or doctors. LPNs are qualified to provide basic medical care but the tasks they are allowed to perform vary depending on state regulations. For example, in some states, LPNs are allowed to administer medication or start intravenous drips but in other states they are not. If you would like to take the first step towards a career in nursing, read our steps on how to become an LPN.
Steps for Becoming an LPN
Becoming an LPN requires you have to complete an accredited one-year training program at a hospital, community college or vocational school. LPN certificate programs include courses in subjects like biology, pharmacology, nursing fundamentals, health and healing, communication, anatomy and physiology, and developmental psychology.
After completing their training, students are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). You must pass this exam and obtain a license in order to work as an LPN or LVN in your state. There are additional certifications available for LPNs who want to gain a competitive edge in the job market and expand their knowledge in specific areas. LPNs can pursue certificates in gerontology, developmental disabilities, and intravenous therapy, among other specialties.
Some LPNs work towards becoming a registered nurse (RN) by enrolling in LPN-to-RN programs to boost their credentials and enhance their job prospects. LPN-to-RN programs culminate in an associate’s degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Job Responsibilities of LPNs
If you want to start a career as a nurse, pursuing an LPN certificate is a great choice, because it allows you to gain valuable education in a short period of time so that you can join the workforce quickly. LPNs typically provide basic bedside care. Their duties might include helping a patient bathe and dress and taking a patient’s vital signs, such as their temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. LPNs may also give injections, apply ice packs, treat bedsores, perform laboratory tests, and monitor catheters.
Important qualities for LPNs to have are attention to detail, interpersonal skills, compassion, stamina, patience, and speaking skills. Most LPNs work in nursing homes, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and private homes.
LPN Employment Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of LPNs is expected to increase at a faster than average rate of 22% from 2010 to 2020, due to the aging population, as well as a large number of LPNs that are expected to retire in the coming years. In 2012, LPNs earned a median annual wage of $41,450. LPNs can advance their careers by obtaining experience and pursuing supervisory positions that involve overseeing certified nursing assistants. You can also elect to become a registered nurse by pursing further education.
If you enjoy working with people and making a difference in others’ lives, learn how to become an LPN. Studying to become an LPN is a great way to get your foot into the door as a nurse, and there are plenty of opportunities for advancement if you are willing to further your education. If you want to undergo the training necessary to pursue an entry-level career as a practical nurse in a variety of healthcare settings, pursue an LPN certificate program today.