What Does an LPN Do?


What is an LPN, anyway?
LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. Before you become an LPN, you will need to first attend an accredited LPN program. The preconditions before you are accepted into any LPN program are what are termed as LPN Prerequisites. Licensed Practical Nursing is an occupation that the OOH (Occupational Outlook Handbook) defines as a caregiver for “people who are sick, injured, convalescent or disabled.”  You are at the patient’s bedside, sometimes alone and sometimes with other professionals, but you’re always learning.

What does an LPN do?

Simply put, the LPN provides health care for the patient in the medical setting. That “setting” might be a hospital, hospice, nursing home, crisis center or similar facility.  “Healthcare” can also be defined in a number of different ways. You might monitor vital signs, administer medical procedures (such as enemas or injections), help the patient bathe, dress and move about the facility, escort the patient to consulting rooms or the operating theater, record his/her reactions to medications and treatments, and generally make yourself useful, one patient at a time.

You might also collect urine/stool and blood samples, note and record food and liquid needs, sterilize equipment.  In an emergency, the LPN may even be a midwife to a woman near her term of delivery, if no other medical professional is available. LPNs can work in hospitals, crisis centers, hospices and nursing homes.

The LPN Prerequisites: What are they anyway?

Generally, LPN Prerequisites vary depending on the LPN school you are applying to. each will have similar but different admission requirements.

It might seem a bit obvious, but the most important requirement to become a successful LPN is a desire to learn nursing.  That desire, if it’s genuine, should manifest itself in high school, where you should do very well in math and science (and if you cannot do math, biology and chemistry, you cannot nurse; it’s as simple as that).

In college, you then take advanced courses in those same sciences, and advance to such disciplines as psychology and behavioral sciences, anatomy and the human body, medical ethics, physiology and biology/chemistry.

The good news is that you do not need a college degree to become an LPN.  Most programs accept applicants after only the first year of college, with no more than a High School degree (in states they will accept a high school equivalency).

The bad news is that if you do not advance beyond being a Licensed Practical Nurse; your salary, benefits and salary will remain lower than that of Registered Nurses.  Because of this, a lot of those nurses with LPN qualifications eventually pursue RN (Registered Nurse) degree courses.

So the main prerequisite requirements before admission to an LPN program are advanced science and mathematics courses in high school and college, and preferable a year in an institution of learning.

Science and Maths are also requirements to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs, RN programs, and the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs.  An LPN certification is at best foundational to moving up the educational hierarchy.

You can, if circumstances don’t allow real hospital training, take LPN courses at a vocational college or community college center.   You can also, if you’re really up against expenses, complete some LPN courses online (make absolutely sure your online course is accredited).

Anything else I should know about being an LPN? 

Be aware that at some point you will need to complete between 250 and 500 hours of clinical experience in a facility with patients and under supervised care.  But all that is for later when you’re a year along in your studies. Once your LPN studies are completed, you will then need to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam. Once that exam is passed, you can then call yourself a Certified LPN.

LPN Career Outlook and Salary.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics says that LPN positions will increase by some 21 percent from now until 2018.  The average yearly LPN salary is $39,000, whereas a Registered Nurse can get $60,000. 

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