Traditionally, nurses are health care workers who provide care within the ordering scope of physicians. This important role shaped the current public image of nurses. In the post-war era, nurse education has undergone tremendous changes. Changing regulations and roles has pushed nurses towards obtaining advanced and specialized credentials. Today, nurses work independently in a variety of settings. There are two main types of nurses: licensed practical nurses and registered nurses.

What is the LPN job description? Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are regulated health care professionals working with other members of the health care team to care of individual patients and their families. They must work under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. There are two states in the United States that refers to them as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), namely California and Texas. They work in nursing care facilities, physician offices, community care facilities for seniors, private and public hospitals, and home health care services.

LPN Job Description

The main duties of LPNs are to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate care for clients under their jurisdiction. They provide care to patients at a very personal level and have direct contact with patients on a daily basis. LPNs’ scope of practice varies from state to state. States like Texas and Oklahoma allow LPNs to do almost as much as a registered nurse, such as initiating intravenous starts and administering intravenous medications; other states like New York and California have strict limits on LPN duties. However, LPNs are not allowed to assist in surgical procedures nor they can give anesthesia to patients. These tasks are usually reserved for registered nurses or APNs.

In most states, LPNs are required to work under the supervision of a registered nurse, physician or another health care practitioner. In rare occasions, an LPN can be the only licensed nurse present in a facility. They are responsible for the supervision of nursing assistants, attendants, and orderlies.

LPNs in all states perform the following job duties:

  • Provide bedside care to patients including personal hygiene maintenance
  • Record the patients’ vital signs (including blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate)
  • Collect patient’s health information
  • Relay information between patients, registered nurses, and physicians
  • Give oral medications and injections to patients (in permitted states)
  • Test a patient’s blood sugar levels
  • Urinary catheter insertion and care
  • Wound care and dressing changes
  • Ostomy site care and maintenance
  • Assist patients with personal hygiene
  • Monitor for changes in patients
  • Proper charting, documentation, and maintenance of patient’s medical records

How to Become a LPN

To enrol in an LPN program, applicants must be 18 years of age, free of a criminal record, and possess a high school diploma. They may also be required to pass a drug test and, in some cases, a letter of recommendation is required.

There are thousands of nursing programs in the United States. Before selecting the right LPN program for yourself, you should always check whether the program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC). Accredited programs always meet the standards of practice set out by the state nursing body and typically offers a higher quality of education; as the result, graduates tend to have a greater success rate for passing the licensing exam and for obtaining employment.

To become an LPN, students must obtain an Associate’s degree from a community college, technical school, vocational school, or (sometimes) hospital. This program is usually completed in 1 year and offers a blend of classroom learning with direct hands-on-training in hospitals. During the classroom lessons, students are taught biology, pharmacology, and nursing. Certificates in practical nursing are given at the end of their program.

In recent years, many LPN programs offer part of their courses online, which is a great alternative for individuals who have a busy life schedule. The tuition fees for online programs are also much more affordable, usually range from $1000 to $2000. Whereas, tuition in institution programs range from $1000 to upwards of $15,000.

Read More: Top LPN Programs

LPN Training

Practical training in a hospital or clinic setting is required by all licensed practical nurse (LPN) before they graduate from their Associate’s Degree program. Depending on the school, internship or clinical hours within an actual medical setting may vary.

LPN Certification

All states require LPNs to obtain a license before they can practice. Students must first pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) exam. They then can apply for licensure in the state board of nursing. LPNs who wish to become registered nurses or clinical nurse specialists can further their education through advanced education programs in Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees.

Read More: How Much do LPNs Make?

LPN Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the LPN job description:
  • assess, plan, implement, and evaluate care for clients
  • supervised by registered nurses or physicians
  • 1 year education program
  • Must be licensed before practice
  • 25% employment growth by 2022