What is an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)?
An LPN is a licensed health care professional. You would be trained to handle beside care of patients who are dealing with disabilities, illnesses, and injuries. You would be doing this under the supervision of a physician or registered nurse (RN). Being an LPN you are a very essential part of any healthcare team. Many times the LPN is the first medical professional to interact with the patients. In the United States there are only two states that refer to the LPN as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). Those two states are Texas and California.
Job description of an LPN
Being a LPN the main duties includes assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating care for the patients that are assigned to you each day. The care that you give your patients is on a very personal level. What a LPN does on a daily basis varies from state to state. In Oklahoma and Texas being an LPN you would do almost as much as a registered nurse would do such as administering intravenous medications and initiating intravenous starts. Other states like California and New York they have a strict limit on what an LPN can do. One thing that LPN’s in any state are not allowed to do is give anesthesia to the patent or assist in any surgical procedures. In most of the states a LPN are required to work under the supervision of a health care practitioner, physician, or registered nurse.
Being a LPN is not a real glamorous job as you may find yourself emptying bedpans, cleaning up patients that have vomited or soiled themselves. As a LPN you should also have good interpersonal skills in communication because you may have to convey vital information to other medical staff, the patient themselves and their family. You should also have a pleasing personality and enjoy working with people. You also should be skilled in time management. The reason is if your place of employment assigns you a set number of patients you will need to be able to manage your time to make your patients are all taken care of before the end of shift and your paperwork is also done. To meet the challenges of taking care of patient’s on a daily basis you need to have endurance and flexibility.
How to become an LPN?
To become an LPN you will need to complete a LPN program but first you should make sure that in high school you are taking classes in biology. Some even take a foreign language in order to be able to work with a mixed population. To get into these programs you must be at least 18 years of age, have graduated high school but some may accept a GED, and not have a criminal record. Some programs may also require you to pass a drug test. There are some programs that require you to have a letter of recommendation. In the United States there are thousands of LPN nursing programs. Before applying for admittance to the program you should check to see if it is an accredited school. The schools receive their accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC).
The reasons that this is important are that accredited programs will typically offer a higher quality of education and they always meet the standards of practice that is set by the state nursing body. Choosing an accredited program helps to ensure that you will have a higher success rate for passing the state licensing exam and being offered employment. In addition when attending an accredited school it can mean that the credits you have earned can be transferred to another college if you decide to pursue a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in the nursing field. Two such schools are the Chemeketa Community College located in Salem, Oregon and Southeast Community College located in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Most programs to become a LPN are taught at vocational schools or at community colleges. Some high schools may offer a LPN program as part of their curriculum where the student goes to high school either so many days a week or half day and the rest of the time is spent in a vocational school. Since this is a twelve month program it is easy to offer as part of the high school curriculum. There are some hospitals that offer a LPN program and may be free with the agreement that you work for the hospital for a specified number of years. The LPN program can usually be completed in twelve months and will offer a combination of learning with direct hands-on training. When in the classroom you will be taught pharmacology, nursing, and biology. At the end of the program you will be given a certificate in practical nursing if you pass the program.
There are also some LPN programs that offer part of their program online to help out those who have a busy schedule and cannot spend all day in a classroom. Doing the LPN online program is also more affordable and range from $1000 to $2000 compared to the tuition for attending a LPN program in a school which can cost from $1000 to $15,000. Before you can practice being a LPN you will have to have a license which will be given to you after you pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) examination. These licenses mush be periodically renewed. When renewing your license NCLEX-PN may require written proof that you are a practicing LPN. If you decided that you want to become a clinical nurse specialist or registered nurse you can further you education and get a Master of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
Being a LPN there are many different specialty fields that are available for you. You can pursue certification from the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN) in intravenous therapy or foot care and gerontology. You could also be certified in long-term care by the National Association Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care.
Work environment and schedule
There are many different healthcare facilities where you can work as a LPN such as in physician offices, public and private hospitals, home health care services, nursing care/home facilities, and community care facilities for seniors. Many find themselves working in nursing homes and skilled rehabilitation hospitals. Some LPN’s may even work in laboratories making sure that the equipment that is used is clean and ready to be use and perform routine tests. Being a LPN you may be able to work as the school nurse but you would need to check with the state licensing board first to see if you have the qualifications to do so. You could also help formulate a nursing plan for a patient or teach community information classes. You could also work as a home health aide going to various patients’ homes to help with their daily care, take their vitals, note any complaints and reporting it to your supervisor so they can address the problem.
The hours that you would work would depend on where you are employed. In a hospital setting you could work any shift, weekends, holidays, and being on call. There are some LPN’s who work twelve hour shifts that can be from 7 o’clock in the morning to 7 o’clock in the evening or be odd hours like from eleven o’clock in the morning to eleven o’clock in the evening. In some places of employment like a hospital you may be called a ‘floater” which means that you would float between floors and helping out where needed. If you are a floater you would probably not have a set number of patients assigned to you.
Depending on the place of employment an LPN may be assigned a certain number of patients each day that they are responsible for. Some of the duties of LPNs in all states might do on a daily basis can include:
- Providing bedside care to their assigned patients that also includes personal hygiene like making sure that they have a shower or are given a sponge bath, making sure they have fresh water in their picture, making sure that they are eating their meals and offering assistance when needed.
- Taking and recording their vital signs which include their respiratory rate, blood pressure, pulse, and temperature.
- Relaying any information from their patients to the registered nurses and sometimes the patient’s physicians.
- If the patient is a diabetic they may test their blood sugar levels
- Dressing changes and wound care
- The care and insertion of urinary catheters
- Care and maintenance of ostomy site
- Monitor your patients and note if there seems to be any changes.
- Making sure that their patient’s medical records are properly charted and any documentation is correctly entered
In the states that permit it a LPN may give injections and oral medications to the patients. What exactly your duties would be again depends on your place of employment. A LPN may be on their feet their entire shift except for breaks and you may also have to help life patients if they have fallen, have trouble getting to their feet after being in the bathroom, etc. This is a job that can be hard on your back and feet so you need to make sure that you are in good health before embarking on a career as a LPN.
Pros and cons of being an LPN
A career as an LPN can be many times advantageous especially if you like to work with people and improve their life by giving them the opportunity to a better and healthier life. This job has its challenges involving daily tasks and duties as well as having to deal with people in different types of environment. Before making your choices and becoming an LPN, you should really check out which are the pros and cons that accompany it.
Starting as an LPN is a huge pro because the job overview offers a higher standard for security. This is due to the number of demands coming from people that are sick or injured and due to the constant increase in the aging population. With this being added, there are many nursing homes that will hire LPN’s.
Your interaction with people is even higher than on other fields and according to the facility in which you are working you may do medication, injection. In addition, you’ll have to maintain communication with doctors and other facility personnel.
Your schedule will depend on every facility, but there are many nursing homes and hospitals that offer to the nursing staff a work schedule of four days per week. With this, you’ll have the opportunity to spend time with your family more. The con to all this situation is that, in general, any nurse is needed around the clock. This means that she or he has to be there when the moment comes, this involving having to work, weekends, evenings, holidays, or nights.
The training is short compared to other areas of healthcare, and you’ll have to spend almost a year in a community college or a training school to complete the required courses. The job can be demanding and very lucrative for a salary that reaches about $39,010 per year. You’ll get the opportunity though to earn a registered nursing degree that could take you a job with more responsibilities, but with a median salary that reaches $62,560 per year.
LPN job growth
The next years according to the BLS or else known as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announces a projected growth of 15%-16% for LPNs. A large area of jobs for these professionals is to be found in the home health care services. When it comes to the working environment industries such as nursing care facilities or assisted living settings for elderly as well as other facilities, hire a large number of LPNs.
On the other hand, you can expect to find some competition if you are looking for a job in an outpatient care center or a physician office due to the schedule, the working hours and due to the comfortable setting. Still you’ll have to take into consideration the fact that national long-term employment growth projections might not reflect the local or economic job prospects of short-term entirely. However, the number of demanding still remains, because the elderly population is constantly growing and the aid that an LPN gives is always needed.
Being a LPN your salary can range from $36,000 to $44.300 a year. Yes the salary is low but many LPN’s do not mind the low salary because they love what they are doing and salary is not all that important to them. Some of the top states to work in that have an annual LPN salary ranging from $50,000 to $53,000 include North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida. The state with the highest salary is New York with the average annual salary being $56,198.
Although the salary is not that high many places of employment offer a benefit package to their employees which can include paid vacation days, paid sick days, 401K, social security, pension, eye and dental care, health insurance that may cover the family, mileage reimbursement if you are a home health aide and use your own car to go to patient’s homes, and life insurance. There are also some places of employment that do not offer any type of benefit packages.
The annual salary of a LPN would be if you were employed by:
- Nursing care facilities–$40,580
- General surgical and medical hospitals–$38.080
- Employment services–$44,690
- Offices of physicians–$35,020
- Home health care services–$39,510
Salary of an LPN in 2015
An LPN is a very significant link in the health care system and for this job there is one step to move up if you want and become a registered nurse. In the US, the salary of an LPN is estimated to range from $36,010 up to $44,387 per year.
For 2015, the salary of an LPN is mainly decided by her or his years in this career, followed by the state in which one operates and the type of facility in which she’s being hired. For instance, those who work in this career for more than 20 years will earn a salary that is closed to $58,734 per year.
The number of demanding is still growing, and the job opportunities can be found in many areas and settings. The only difference is the salary that is made according to the higher point and the lower points that can be found in this career and each state.
For many patients, an LPN is a valuable medical specialist that brings comfort and calm their pains and bring a new and great lifestyle.
LPN Salary in 2016
For the year 2016, in the US, the total payment for an LPN according to PayScale surveys is estimated to start from $29,900 per year and climb up to $51,105 per year, this including already the benefits that are granted. For instance, in this total salary package, you can have bonuses that usually are estimated to reach up to $588, profit sharing that can start from $226 and climb up to $3,251 per year and commission that reaches at $7,010.
According to each state, city, and area, the income of an LPN varies based on the living expenses and the cost of living. Some salaries can be estimated to reach above the national average while other below the national average. For an LPN, the national average is estimated to reach around $38,469 per year. Great locations where LPN can find work with incomes that are above the national average are in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and other.
For instance, in New York, the median payment for these professionals is estimated at around $47,067 per year while in Chicago it has a median average that reaches around $44,691 per year. On the other side salaries that can are to be found below the national average are in Tulsa, Rochester, and Oklahoma City. In Rochester, the income of an LPN is estimated at a median average of $37,258 per year while in Oklahoma City the earnings have a median average that goes around $36,298 per year.
The variations in each salary are influenced and affected by several factors such as the geographical location, as early seen, the years of experience in the field and other. One of the main that impacts the incomes is the specialization within the field. According to BLS the average median income for LPNs for 2016, in the US is expected to be at around $42,491 per year.
Like in any other profession the more experience you have in the field, the higher your salary gets. If you are not content with your income as an LPN, you can always enroll and get more training and education such as getting a degree to become an RN else known as a Registered Nurse.
LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- Canada—the annual salary is CAD$37,293 to CAD$53,568. The highest LPN salary in Canada is in Ontario with the annual salary being around $67,544.
- Australia—the annual salary is AUS$26,650 to AUS$65,460 but when you add in overtime and bonuses you can add approximately AUS$2,067 to your salary.
- UK—the average annual salary is 38,000 pounds with London offering one of the highest LPN’s annual salaries at 42,420 pounds.
Conclusion on LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) salary
The LPN salary can also be looked at as a stepping stone to becoming a registered nurse. Yes, the salary of a LPN is on average under $50,000 a year it is a better paying job than working on the assembly line in a factory. The job outlook and demand for LPN’s are high as many times a LPN works with elderly patients and the aging population is rapidly growing. By the year 2020 LPN jobs are expected to increase by 22 percent. Since the LPN program is offered at vocational schools and community colleges the tuition is not high and you will not have the cost of becoming a LPN being paid off in several years as a physician would have.
- First Published Date: 28 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 21 August, 2016