Under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and doctors, licensed practical nurses (LPN) or licensed vocational nurses (LVN) provide patient care to the ill, injured and disabled.
Responsibilities of most LPNs and LVNs include the provision of basic bedside care and recording of vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration. They also observe patients during recovery to see if there are any adverse reactions to prescribed medicines. Some LPNs assist in deliveries, caring and feeding of newborns. LPNs who have gained enough experience manage nursing assistants and aides.
Hospitals employ LPNs and LVNs to periodically check on patients. They could work in shifts; they could work in day, night or graveyard shifts. Their schedules are flexible; they may work full-time or par-time or only during weekends. This is beneficial to them as they can fulfill their obligations too, be it with their families or school.
Training to become an LPN usually takes 12-18 months to complete. It includes classroom and clinical instruction in its curriculum. Many nursing schools offer the program in night and weekend classes. This is beneficial to the currently employed who wish to pursue advanced studies without needing to leave their jobs. Enrolling in an LPN program is relatively easy as it usually only requires a high school diploma.
Competent skills in problem solving and management are requirements in an LPN’s job. The LPN program teaches its students to become effective multi-taskers. They should have good communication skills as this is essential in working with patients, physicians and other health care providers. LPNs are taught to work well under pressure. They are taught to act alert during emergencies. They are prepared for eventualities when they would need to handle patients without the supervision of doctors and other medical staff.
Many career opportunities are offered for a licensed practical nurse. They have the options of joining hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and other health care facilities.
Reminders for Potential LPNs:
1) Many vocational and technical schools offer practical nursing programs that usually take a minimum of one year to complete.
2) A nursing license must be obtained by taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses or NCLEX-PN. Do not be complacent and think that the exam is the same as the previous ones. The length usually varies.
3) Classroom education covers basic nursing concepts and other related courses such as obstetrics, nutrition, psychiatry, pediatrics, physiology, pharmacology, first aid and patient care. Clinical instruction and experience under supervision are usually held at hospitals or sometimes in other health care facilities and settings.