A licensed practical nurse, known is some states as a licensed vocational nurse, provides medical care to patients at hospital, clinics and private practices. To be become a licensed nurse an individual must study for approximately two years, earning an associate degree in nursing. LPNs/LVNs will usually pursue a program of study at a community college or accredited school and such programs typically have more stringent admissions guidelines than the school as a whole. LPNs/LVNs may enter programs after graduation to become registered nurses which is a bachelor level degree.
Students interested in a nursing program will find they must focus on a variety of sciences alongside medical coursers. Additionally, nurses will learn about patient care, including treatment and mental health. Most nursing programs will offer classroom courses along with laboratory work, and eventually practical experience through local internships at clinics or hospitals. The experience earned through a nursing program is important, thus online programs in the field are often looked down upon.
A licensed practical nurse program curriculum may include:
- Nutrition and Diet Therapy
- Growth and Development
- Fundamentals of Nursing
Nursing programs should be accredited by one of several accrediting agencies in order for their degrees to be recognized by clinics and hospitals for the purposes of work. Accreditation agencies include:
- National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC)
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
Career opportunities for licensed professional nurses are plentiful, even though the pay and responsibilities of a LPN are not as great as that of an RN. For individuals interested in career advancement, the ability to continue one's education and become an RN while working is appealing and often utilized. LPNs will be responsible for patient care and monitoring, including various forms of patient assistance though due to their licensing, will be unable to administer medication.
Some responsibilities an LPN may perform include:
- Take Vital Signs
- Gather Patient Health Information
- Assist Patients with Personal Hygiene
- Help Care For and Feed Infants
- Educate Patients and Family in Good Health Habits
Licensed practical nurses may find work through a single employer, or fill out their schedule through multiple employers and/or agencies. Some individuals looking to establish flexible hours will prefer to work with agencies, as they can accept or deny work as need be, and there is rarely a shortage of opportunities. As stated above, most LPNs and LVNs will typically pursue a registered nurse degree, often while working, and as such the need for flexible yet consistent work hours is high.
The average salary for LPNs and LVNs is approximately $40,000 per year. The growth of jobs for LPNs is expected to increase 22% over the next ten years. This expected growth is due to a large portion of the United States population approaching retirement age, which in turn has created a need for more health care professionals. Job opportunities will be higher in developing and established urban centers, as the higher population along with population density requires more individuals.
For additional information about the nursing profession, read our Complete Guide to Nursing on the MatchCollege blog today.