In a hospital setting, when patients hear the word ‘nurse’, they automatically think of a registered nurse, which is a clear indication that not everyone is aware of the different degrees or levels this occupation has.
Worse, many get confused or do not pay attention to the several acronyms being used to identify what particular nurse they are interacting with.
What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?
A nurse is referred to as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) if she has undergone any training and has gotten a license to provide care for the sick.
LPN is an important part of the healthcare team because she is responsible for taking the vital signs of a patient who comes in a hospital or healthcare facility. This documentation task is necessary for doctors to provide accurate findings or diagnoses and formulate possible recommendations.
Where do they work?
- Acute care hospitals
- Nursing homes and hospices
- Home health
- Private duty cases
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Prisons or jails
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Group homes
- Doctor’s offices, clinics
- Assisted living facilities
- Schools and universities
How much do they make?
As of January 2017, LPNs are reported to make an estimate of $22.00 per hour in the United States. This rate varies according to state, with a minimum of $15.05 per hour up to a maximum of $27.90 per hour. This makes their annual pay grade to be in between $31,300 to $58,020 with an average of $34,464.
This is the list of the top five states with the highest annual salary for LPN/LVN as of 2014:
- Connecticut – $55,170
- Alaska – $54,380
- Massachusetts – $53,820
- New Jersey- $52,950
- Nevada – $52,760
How to become a Licensed Practical Nurse?
You must have a high school diploma or a GED before you can apply for a practical nursing program.
- Make a decision if you want to earn a certificate, diploma or a degree. Bear in mind that if you wish to become an LPN immediately, getting a certification or diploma is the way to go. If you wish to become a registered nurse later on, you may wish to get an associate degree to further your career path goals.
- Attend and complete an accredited and approved practical nurse program. The courses may include anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, nutrition, nursing care for child and adult, pharmacology, and psychology or human growth and development. Bear in mind that some schools may require passing an entrance examination before acceptance.
- Study, review and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). This exam is required before you can get your license and employment. Areas of studies may include health promotion and maintenance, physiological integrity, psychosocial integrity, and safe & effective care environments.
- Look for professional certification to make you able to do specialized roles. Certifications may include long-term care, hospice and palliative care, gerontology, IV therapy, dialysis, neonatal education, and immunization.
- Graduate and obtain your license so you can get a job as an LPN or LVN.
What else can you expect from being an LPN/LVN?
Being an LPN/LVN is just the start of what could be a promising career path. Once you have gotten your license, you may wish to obtain further education to broaden your role as a nurse and increase your salary grade. Most LPNs opt to get a nursing degree with an associate degree (LPN to ADN/RN) or bachelor degree (LPN to BSN/RN).
Furthermore, due to the job growth opportunities and high demand of the job, the projected growth for the community of LPN/LVN is growing up to 25 percent increase, which outnumbers RNs who are only projected to grow by 19 percent.
What kind of nursing organizations are associated with LPN/LVN?
- National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN) – the main national organization created for LPNs and LVNs, wherein they offer certifications for IV therapy and gerontology and professional development programs.
- National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc.(NAPNES) – an association dedicated for the protection, promotion, and defense of the education, practice and regulation of LPNs, LVNs, practical nursing students, educators, and schools.
- American Nurses Association (ANA) – best known and most popular association for nurses. Although it caters mainly RNs, some states allow the inclusion of LPNs or LVNs because they provide benefits for continuing education and online professional networking opportunities.