Top 8 Challenging Aspects of Being an LPN

Working as an LPN is extremely rewarding. It allows healthcare workers to provide essential care to patients requiring bedside care. However, there are numerous challenging aspects of being an LPN.

It includes limited career options, restricted income potential, and nurse burnout.

LPNs also deal with delegation challenges, difficulties coping with death, and frequent exposure to illnesses.

This article covers the different challenges licensed practical nurses experience throughout their careers.

1. Restricted Career Opportunities

The limited career opportunities are perhaps the most challenging aspects of being an LPN.

LPNs receive training and education to provide bedside care to patients requiring basic aid and assistance.

Unfortunately, their education isn’t sufficient for handling more complex medical tasks or high-level responsibilities.

As a result, LPNs face numerous restrictions regarding the careers they can pursue.

Some LPNs take on more senior roles, managing CNAs and newer licensed practical nurses.

However, they’ll need to return to school to become registered nurses if they want exposure to other career opportunities.

Registered nurses can pursue over one hundred specializations, while there isn’t much career diversity for LPNs.

Fortunately, fast-track programs help LPNs become RNs quicker than traditional academic routes.

2. Limited Earning Potential

Because LPNs receive limited training and education, their career options are pretty restricted.

As a result, many licensed practical nurses have difficulty earning higher incomes beyond a certain point.

These healthcare providers can earn decent money by accepting jobs in high-paying locations and healthcare facilities.

For instance, hospitals typically pay LPNs reasonably well for their services compared to other institutions.

However, they cannot pursue considerable career advancement opportunities available to registered nurses.

LPNs must return to college to receive additional education to accept higher-level positions.

Returning to school requires extra finance and time.

It’s challenging for busy healthcare workers with active lifestyles and family responsibilities.

Nevertheless, it’s necessary for those who want better career possibilities and higher pay.

Registered nurses can earn six figures by pursuing the right disciplines and working in well-paying states/locations.

LPNs may earn half of an RNs salary due to career limitations.

3. Burnout and Work Overload 

Nurse burnout is a common issue in many busy healthcare settings.

It occurs when a nurse is accountable for handling more patients and responsibilities than is manageable.

Over time burnout reduces career satisfaction and increases the chances of medical errors.

It also raises job turnover, making it difficult for healthcare facilities to sustain employees.

Every employee leaving the healthcare facility costs the institution time and money.

These facilities must train new workers on that facility’s policies, procedures, and practices.

It further increases the workload of existing employees and temporarily reduces communication and workflow.

Unfortunately, this burnout cycle is more common than LPNs or registered nurses can manage long-term.

4. Delegation Challenges

LPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses, physicians, and other high-level healthcare providers.

As a result, they may have difficulty accomplishing standard procedures or tasks unless they receive authorization.

This limitation can cause delays with specific procedures, responsibilities, and duties LPNs must perform.

LPNs may also encounter numerous nurse/specialist requests, making completing tasks at a reasonable time challenging.

For instance, one nurse may ask an LPN to feed a patient.

Another nurse may request the LPN to bathe a different person.

Without adequate staffing or delegation, it can quickly become challenging for LPNs to manage multiple tasks effectively.

On top of that, LPNs’ limited autonomy makes it challenging to perform duties unassisted without supervision or approval.

5. Difficulties Coping with Death

LPNs often work with sick and dying individuals who require compassion, assistance, and connection.

As a result, it’s common for LPNs to develop relationships with their patients and family members.

For some healthcare workers coping with death is very challenging, and it’s difficult to handle when a loss occurs.

LPNs must grieve a loss while also comforting the family members of the patient and providing support.

LPNs must maintain composure, professionalism, and strength, especially when communicating with others.

Not everyone can manage the experience of death well.

As a result, healthcare workers must have the necessary resources and support to work effectively in challenging times.

6. Exposure to Illnesses

Most healthcare workers work directly with patients, especially LPNs.

As a result, LPNs frequently experience exposure to various infections, harmful chemicals, and viruses.

These healthcare providers must maintain safety protocols to minimize exposure and cross-contamination.

Nevertheless, there’s always a risk of becoming ill due to frequent exposure.

Even with protective care and proper sanitization/cleaning, there is no foolproof way to ensure LPNs are always protected.

In addition, LPNs face challenges with potentially infecting those within their homes.

It increases stress for many healthcare providers who work hard and want to keep their families safe.

7. Physically Demanding Workload

LPNs work directly with patients assisting with various physical tasks.

As a result, they operate in healthcare settings that can be physically challenging and exhausting.

These healthcare providers spend long periods standing and walking from room to room.

Over time this puts pressure on the feet, legs, joints, and back.

It is not uncommon for healthcare workers to walk several miles during a standard shift.

While standing and walking, LPNs help patients with bathing, movement, feeding, and other autonomous tasks.

They also assist with transferring patients on/off beds into wheelchairs and other mobile accessories.

The frequent movement, lifting, and turning LPNs experience routinely are physically demanding.

The physically challenging work can cause discomfort and even long-term health issues without proper rest.

It can also lead to workplace injuries in the immediate term.

8. Loss of Purpose

Working in healthcare is extremely rewarding.

Healthcare professionals have countless opportunities to improve the lives of the people they serve.

Unfortunately, some jobs can become routine, emotionally challenging, and unsatisfying.

LPNs have limited autonomy, career options, and responsibilities.

Over time work can feel very complacent, lacking new experiences and diversity.

Many individuals experience a loss of purpose due to the limitations of their careers. 

In addition, LPNs often require the supervision and approval of higher-level healthcare specialists.

It makes completing specific tasks more difficult and reduces an LPNs sense of independence, value, and purpose.

Starting a career as an LPN benefits those unsure whether a healthcare career is right for them.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult for some LPNs to maintain long-term satisfaction if they lack a sense of purpose in their work.