Licensed practical nurse training prepares nursing students for careers as licensed practical nurses, or LPNs. These medical professionals work under registered nurses and doctors to help diagnose and care for sick or injured patients, but their actual working environments can vary enormously.
Most licensed practical nurses are able to work in any area of healthcare, but other LPNs are specifically geared toward working in:
Hospice care facilities.
Mental health clinics.
Private specialist’s offices.
Though an LPN does not have the same scope of practice as a registered nurse, there are still a lot of duties that they are legally allowed to perform. This is especially true of LPNs that choose to specialize in a specific area of nursing. This makes them an invaluable addition to any medical team, whether they’re in a large hospital or a private setting.
Licensed Practical Nurse Training
Actual practical nurse courses are designed to give these nurses a good command of anatomy, physiology, pathology, medical ethics, and other subjects that relate directly to providing patient care. Practical nursing educational programs take about one year to complete, and are usually offered by community colleges, or vocational schools. In order to be eligible to be licensed in their state, practical nursing students must complete a Board of Nursing-approved licensed practical nurse training program.
Approved programs are generally offered by accredited schools, but not all accredited schools have approved programs, and vice versa. Therefore, prospective nursing students looking for a good LPN program should contact their state’s Board of Nursing, so they may obtain a list of approved LPN education programs before they enroll in one. In many states, prospective LPN students may be eligible for special financial aid programs for nurses. The Board of Nursing will also be able to point would-be nursing students in the right direction when it comes to finding tuition help, too.
Becoming an LPN gives nurses a lot of opportunity for advancement. Nurses that choose to remain LPNs can specialize in a specific area of medicine, like gerontology, or become supervisors for other LPNs in their medical facility. Nurses that want to may go back to school to become registered nurses, then advanced practice registered nurses or nurse educators. Some colleges have opted to streamline their nursing programs by providing registered nursing “bridge” programs, which make it easier for practicing LPNs to be accepted to and graduate from registered nursing training courses.
Licensed Practical Nurse Scope of Practice
Licensed practical nurses are responsible for recording patient’s vital signs, dressing wounds, preparing and giving injections, preparing and giving enemas, monitoring IVs and catheters, and helping to keep patients clean and comfortable. They also collect blood and urine samples for testing, and perform basic, routine diagnostic tests. LPNs also help complete patient records, by taking medical histories and discussing symptoms with patients.
Licensed Practical Nurses vs. Licensed Vocational Nurses
Licensed vocational nurses are often mentioned in the same context as licensed practical nurses. In reality, they are completely synonymous- the Boards of Nursing for some states simply prefer the terminology Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) over Licensed Practical Nurse CLPN). They are more less different job titles for the same job. Despite the difference in nomenclature, there is very little difference between the two in practice. Any discrepancies in training, examination, licensing requirements, or their scopes of practice are purely due to differences between individual Boards of Nursing, and not because LPNs and LVNs are totally different positions.
The states of Texas (TX) and California (CA) are the ones that issue LVN licenses instead of LPN licenses. So an LVN will only be recognized in Texas and California. Because of the difference in examination and nursing Board requirements in the two LVN states to the others, being able to practice from an LVN state to an LPN state may sometimes not be as straightforward as compared to transferring your certification within Texas and California.
Why You Should Become a Licensed Practical Nurse
If you are fascinated by medicine and enjoy the hands-on patient care approach that nursing takes, then becoming a licensed practical nurse may be a good career option for you. LPNs are heavily involved with providing patient bedside care, so you’ll have the opportunity to see the difference that you make firsthand.
Licensed practical nurse training is challenging, but the end result is a rewarding career that can take you just about anywhere you want to go. Regardless of the type of medical facility you’d prefer to work at, or the area of medicine that you’d prefer to specialize in, a good foundation as a licensed practical nurse can give you the basis for a long and happy career caring for patients.