A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a general nurse who provides basic health care to patients who are either sick, injured or disabled.
In some states LPN’s are alternatively referred to as licensed vocational nurses or LVN’s.
LPN’s are in charge of performing a number of health care related tasks for patients who are in need of medical assistance and can include responsibilities such as performing lab tests, keeping records of their patients condition, providing bedside aid which may include moving, lifting, walking, bathing, dressing, feeding and assisting patients with hygiene, administering medication, performing various treatments and a list of other health care related assistance.
Aside from the physical and technical aspects of working as a licensed practical nurse LPN’s must also have a strong desire to help patients who are in need of medical assistance and need to have a lot of patience in dealing with individuals who require lots of care and are not able to move as quickly as desired.
This line of work is just as emotional as it is physical so having a positive attitude and a caring heart are extremely valuable in field of health care.
Becoming an LPN
Those who are interested in becoming an LPN must take an LPN training program which generally takes 1 year to complete and requires students to take the NCLEX-PN exam at the end of their course study in order to earn their license.
Students who are interested in becoming LPN’s must also have either a diploma or GED in order to be eligible to take the program.
Courses for LPN programs are offered by a variety of vocational/technical schools, community colleges and as part of the education curriculum being offered by some high schools.
While licensed practical nurses are considered nurses they have neither the training or education that registered nurse have acquired so their opportunities for jobs and career advancement are limited.
LPN’s that are interested in becoming registered nurses can apply to an educational facility, college or university that offers an LPN to RN program, which will allow licensed practical nurses to take additional education courses and earn a degree as a registered nurse after they complete the required coursework and pass the National Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
LPN salary and job opportunities
As a whole the nursing industry is expecting to reach 800,000 jobs by 2020.
While the job market is consistently expanding for nurses as a whole it is believed that some hospitals are trying to move away from hiring LPN’s as a result of trying to obtain more registered nurses who have acquired higher levels of education and training.
For those who either are or plan on becoming LPN’s in the near future this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
There are still many health care facilities who are in need of qualified LPN’s and for many students it’s a great way to get started in the health care field and decide if becoming an RN is the right career path for them.
The early experience LPN’s gain while working in the field also looks great on a resume when applying for an RN position down the road.
When it comes to salary the average median income LPN’s are likely to make their actual salary can vary depending on the state and area of employment, however according to salary.com (2012) it is estimated that the average annual income in the united states is around $41,647 with the lower 10% of earners making $34,888 and the upper 10% bringing in $48,857 annually.