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Starting Your Nursing Career as a Licensed Practical Nurse

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LPNs or Licensed Practical Nurses are an important part of the health care team. Trained to work in various areas and aspects of health care, LPNs do a tasks that range from wound care to the feeding of infant patients. They are often confused with LVNs, or Licensed Vocation Nurses. In reality, however, both titles refer to the same roles, with LPN being the more common title except for the states of California and Texas.

If you’re interested to start off your career as a nurse via the LPN route, there are a few important things that you should know:

What LPNs do

The main focus of the job is to provide patients with basic nursing care while under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. LPNs perform a variety of tasks while on the job, which include, but is not limited to:

- measuring vital signs

- providing infant care

- maintaining records of the health histories of patients

- updating the physicians and RNs on the status of the patient being cared for

- assisting doctors and registered nurses in performing procedures and exams

- maintaining the readiness of certain medical equipment

- assisting patients with their activities of daily living

The complete duties that an LPN or LVN can do and how much of these duties need to be supervised by an RN or a physician is regulated by the state. LPNs typically undergo extensive training that allow them to be well-versed in varying areas of their job.

The necessary education

While a bachelor’s degree is not necessary in order to practice as an LPN, formal training is still required. This normally takes about a year for nursing school to complete, depending on the program you choose. This means that you’ll get to start your nursing practice earlier, provided that you also pass the NCLEX-RN and become certified. And should you decide to advance your education further down the road and become an RN or earn a bachelor’s degree (BSN) and a new nursing pin, there are bridge programs available that can transition your LPN education to a BSN degree.

Where LPNs can practice

LPNs can work in a variety of areas such as hospitals, military bases, private clinics, and home health care facilities to name a few. While the functions of an LPN remains largely the same, depending on the work setting, LPNs may also be given more tasks or responsibilities both with and without the supervision of a registered nurse or a doctor. For example, LPNs may be permitted to administer medications in fast-paced hospital departments, and be given administrative tasks such as setting up appointments and keeping patients’ records in a physician’s clinic. LPNs can even work as travel nurses, albeit with limited tasks as compared to RNs.

Licensed practical nursing allows those who might not have the capacity to complete a bachelor’s degree course get a head start in their nursing career. And with all the opportunities available for LPNs, it’s also a practical move for nursing students who dream of getting their nursing pins becoming registered nurses in the not-so-distant future.


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