LPN & LVN Career Outlook
* Training lasting about 1 year is available in about 1,200 State-approved programs, mostly in vocational or technical schools.
* Applicants for jobs in hospitals may face competition as the number of hospital jobs for licensed practical nurses declines; however, rapid employment growth is projected in other health care industries, with the best job opportunities occurring in nursing care facilities and in home health care services.
* Replacement needs will be a major source of job openings, as many workers leave the occupation permanently.
Median annual earnings of licensed practical nurses were $33,970 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $28,830 and $40,670. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $46,270. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of licensed practical nurses in May 2004 were:
Employment services $41,550
Nursing care facilities 35,460
Home health care services 35,180
General medical and surgical hospitals 32,570
Offices of physicians 30,400
LPN and LVN Job Description and Titles
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) care for people who are sick, injured, or have disabilities.
It's become common knowledge that the US is facing a nursing shortage. As Americans grow older, two things will happen. First, a lot of nurses will retire. Second, more and more people will need care, especially in nursing homes and assisted living centers. In fact, studies predict that nearly 1,000,000 nurses will be needed by the year 2010. This number includes both registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.
Licensed practical nurses work under the direction of a doctor or registered nurse. Most LPNs provide basic bedside care to patients. They answer patients' calls and take vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They treat patients for bedsores, give alcohol rubs, and apply dressings. They apply hot water bottles and ice packs. LPNs feed patients and record their food and liquid intake and output. They also help patients with other personal care activities, such as bathing, dressing, or brushing their teeth.
LPNs observe patients and report any negative reactions to treatments or medications. They collect blood and other samples from patients for testing. In some work settings, they perform routine lab tests. They also get patients ready for more complex tests and exams. They explain how procedures work and answer questions. They also set up exam or treatment rooms by displaying, ordering, and cleaning equipment. This may include catheters and oxygen machines.
In states where the law allows them to, LPNs may give prescribed medications. They may also start intravenous (IV) fluids. Some LPNs help deliver, care for, and feed infants. Experienced LPNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides.
In nursing homes, LPNs provide basic bedside care as they do in other settings. In addition, they may help evaluate the needs of residents and develop care plans. In doctors' offices and clinics, LPNs often make appointments, keep records, and perform other clerical duties. LPNs who work in private homes may prepare meals. They may also teach simple nursing tasks to family members. They keep patients' rooms neat and make sure that patients are comfortable.
In all work settings, LPNs record important data, such as vital signs, in patient's' charts.
Sample of reported job titles: Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Charge Nurse, Clinic Nurse, Office Nurse, Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), Clinic Nurse, Home Health Care Provider, Home Health Nurse Nursing Technician.
LPN & LVN Education Options and How-to Get Ahead
LPN education takes less time and is less expensive than RN education. This is good in that it provides people who are unable to spend three to four years in university before starting work a means of starting a nursing career quickly, but the same shorter education also leads to limited job options and opportunities for career advancement.
Many LPNs have expressed a desire return to school to become an RN or a BSN, but insufficient time, the need for an ongoing salary, too few open slots in courses, and family obligations proved to be insurmountable obstacles in the past. Thankfully those issues no longer stand in the way for LPNs seeking to further their nursing education.
Online LPN To RN degree programs now make it possible for LPN's to continue their career while they pursue higher education. Working LPNs can earn an Associate degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree online - working at their own pace without disrupting their busy schedules and family commitments. LPNs can set their own hours and attend class in the comfort of their home or work, whenever it is convenient for them. With no classes to Attend, an LPN pursuing an online LPN to RN degree or an LPN to BSN degree can complete virtually 100?f the course work from the comfort of their own homes.
LPN / LVN & RN Degree Options:
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): Provides the entry level educational requirement to practice as a registered nurse. A traditional campus based nursing program leading to an associate degree takes 2 - 3 years to complete, and graduates are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and receive a license to practice as a Registered Nurses upon successfully passing the exam. Online LPN to RN degree programs can be completed in as little as 12 months.
Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing (BSN Degree): Provides the basic level of education to practice as a professional Registered Nurse. Traditional campus based BSN programs take 4 years to complete and curriculums contain courses not included in ADN programs including courses in leaderships and management, community health nursing, risk reduction, and disease management. Graduates of BSN degree programs have greater career options than Associate degree nurses, have the ability to achieve specialty certification, and have the educational foundation to prepare them for graduate programs in nursing or healthcare administration.
LPN & LVN Resources Online
For information about practical nursing, contact any of the following organizations:
* National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc., P.O. Box 25647, Alexandria, VA 22313. Internet: http://www.napnes.org
* National League for Nursing, 61 Broadway, New York, NY 10006. Internet: http://www.nln.org
* National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, Inc., 605 Poole Dr., Garner, NC 27529. Internet: http://www.nflpn.org
Information on the NCLEX-PN licensing exam is available from:
* National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 111 East Wacker Dr., Suite 2900, Chicago, IL 60611. Internet: http://www.ncsbn.org