The profession of Licensed Practical Nurses is one of the fastest growing in the United States due to the growing population and the nursing shortage affecting most the entire country. With life expectancy stretching as a result of advances on the medical science front, there are more elderly people today than ever before. These individuals require long term medical care hence the high demand for nurses.
Pros & Cons
Every occupation has its high and low points and being a Licensed Practical Nurse is no exception. Even with the disadvantages it has, the profession of Licensed Practical Nurse is worthwhile and rewarding.
Let’s take a look at the pros:
· Little qualification time – LPN is the shortest way you can start a nursing career. This can happen in as little as 12 months,
· Readily available jobs – The high demand for LPNs ensures you won’t need to look for a job for too long and,
· Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse provides you with an easy pathway to Registered Nurse.
The cons include:
· Low status – Because of their “assistant” role, LPNs have to be told what to do most of the time by Registered Nurses and Doctors. This takes away their initiative, leaving them feeling powerless.
· Physical demands – duties such as bathing and turning patients are physically taxing to LPNs, which leaves some of them uncomfortable and frustrated, and,
· Emotional burden – Attending to seriously sick patients, some of whom die in their hands usually has a big emotional impact on Licensed Practical Nurses.
LPN Job description
A Licensed Practical Nurse is a medical professional who performs important duties in assisting Registered Nurses and Doctors to care for patients. Overall, they provide routine patient care in various settings including, nursing homes, general and surgical hospitals, physicians offices and in home healthcare. LPNs interface with patients on a much more regular basis than other healthcare professionals and they tend to be the first contact the patient makes with the facility. However, the scope of LPNs work varies depending on their work setting and state. For instance, some states allow Licensed Practical Nurses to administer IV therapy while others explicitly forbid it.
LPNs provide some very basic yet crucial services to any healthcare facility. Some of the key duties of a Licensed Practical Nurse include:
· Taking patients’ signs like blood pressure, blood sugar and weight at triage,
· Taking patients’ medical history,
· Turning or repositioning bedridden patients,
· Preparing patients for laboratory tests,
· Giving injections,
· Monitoring patients’ nutrition needs and intake
· Preparing patients for health examinations,
· Bathing and dressing patients,
· Dressing patients’ wounds,
· Administering prescribed medication,
· Providing emotional support to patients and their family members
· Supervising Certified Nursing Assistants where applicable,
· Explaining preventive tips and other instructions to patients’ family
· Monitoring patients’ status and vital signs and,
· Maintaining patients’ records.
How to become a LPN
To become a LPN you need to enroll in an approved LPN program. LPN programs are offered by community colleges and technical schools among others. Be sure to check with your state nursing board for a comprehensive list of approved programs. You will then need to fulfill admission requirements to the college of your choice. After completing the coursework, you’ll be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses, administered by Pearson VUE, on behalf of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) before you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse.
How Long Does It Take to Become a LPN
The duration of LPN training varies from state-to-state. Respective state nursing boards determine the minimum hours of classroom and clinical training. Generally, approved LPN programs in community colleges take between 5 and 6 semesters to complete on a full-time basis.
The general education requirement to get into an approved LPN program is to be a high school graduate or to have a post-secondary diploma. Additionally, the candidate must meet the following requirements:
· Pass both Reading and Writing Skills Assessment Tests,
· Obtain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.70
· Some schools will require you to pass an admission test.
Other requirements include random drug screening throughout the year, a criminal background check and a full health check-up. Certain immunizations for diseases like tuberculosis and Hepatitis B are a must to secure entry into most approved LPN programs.
The certification process of LPNs across the United States begins with completion of a state-approved LPN program and ends with passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. Most states require the candidate to undergo and pass a criminal background check before they can be allowed to register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. When the candidate’s application is accepted, they’ll receive a bulletin with instructions on exam registration. This is followed by payment of applicable fees, after which the candidate will be issued with the Authorization to test.
There are several ways for an individual to obtain a LPN license in the United States. Those who are new to the career must fulfill Licensed Practical Nurse certification requirements, which include passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses, as laid down by their state-nursing board. Thereafter they must pay the prescribed license fees to receive their licenses. But those who have already been certified in one state and would like to practice in a different state can be licensed by endorsement, which means they won’t be required to take the LPN program all over again. In the case of licensure by endorsement, the Licensed Practical Nurse must provide proof of licensure and be in good standing in the state where they were originally licensed.
LPN Job outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projections indicate that the Licensed Practical Nurse profession will experience an emphatic growth of 25% between 2012 and 2022. This growth will be driven mainly by the burgeoning elderly population, with nursing homes and home healthcare agencies providing the most employment opportunities. The rising prevalence of long term conditions such as diabetes and cancer is yet another factor that is pushing the demand of LPNs up. The BLS forecasts that there will be 921,000 Licensed Practical Nurses working in the United States in the year 2022, up from the 738,400 in the year 2012. With average LPN earnings in 2013 reportedly at $43,960, the future outlook of the profession is quite positive.
Employed people, by detailed occupation and gender, annual averages
Diagnostic related technologists and technicians
Total employed 558 (Numbers in thousands)
Percent Women 91%
(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm
(2) Women in Labor Force: http://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/cps/women-in-the-labor-force-a-databook-2014.pdf