Career Information: Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

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The job of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a difficult but rewarding one. They are on the front lines of the medical profession at all times, helping to take in new patients, and care for those who have extended medical needs. The typical responsibilities are as much psychological as they are physical; a top notch LPN needs to communicate with all patients and make them feel safe and secure, and hopefully help them on the path to health as well.  If you want to be in medicine and are great with interacting daily with all types of people in a positive way, then becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse may be for you.

A Career Outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses

Nurse with a cute smileTheir basic job is to provide medical and emotional care under the supervision and direction of registered nurses (RNs) and doctors.  This consists of a variety of responsibilities, the most prominent of which is administering basic bedside care and monitoring health, including tasks like checking blood pressure, taking a pulse, and measuring height and weight.  They also keep up with hygiene needs, including helping them to bathe and dress.  They also are responsible for basic nursing care such as changing bandages and dressing wounds.  Especially for someone who is bedridden, an LPN can be the difference between a comfortable day-to-day life and an uncomfortable, frustrating existence. 

What are their duties?

They are on the forefront of patient interaction, constantly working on the condition of patient, multiple times throughout the day; they usually have a good personal connection with them than other nurses or doctors.  Additional responsibilities include assisting in medical examinations, consulting the family, explaining to families how they should care for them once they are out of the nurse’s and doctor’s immediate care, and keeping progress records.  In short, they serve as a watchful eye for medical establishments to make sure patients are recovering properly, both mentally and physically. It may not be a glamorous position, but it is one of the more important and interactive occupations in the healthcare industry.

What does a routine consist of?

The typical work day —under the supervision of an RN or doctor—consists of recording basic information from each patient who is admitted, such as medical history, insurance data, and some pretreatment formalities. This also includes details of current health: temperature, blood pressure, respiration, and other important vital signs. They may also clean and dress wounds before and after a doctor examines them. 

Watching for and treating bedsores also falls into the LPN job description, as does giving massage to different muscles in the body that may need to be relaxed. This is especially common amongst patients who are stuck in beds for extended periods of time. Hygiene responsibilities consist of emptying a bedpan or helping them to the bathroom, sponge bathing them if necessary, and helping to brush their teeth or trim their nails. Once a patient has been discharged from the hospital, they are also responsible for giving detailed instructions to family members about how to support an ill person.

The daily routine of an LPN also varies based on their employment location.  Some work in nursing homes and facilities that provide long-term assistance, while others work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or private homes.  Those working in extended facilities will give more hygiene and bedside assistance, while those in a doctor’s office will deal mostly with daily intake tasks.

How much do they make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for LPNs was about $40,000 in 2010.  The median is the mark at which half of them made less, and half made more.  However, the top ten percent of LPNs earned more than $56,010, while the lowest 10 percent made less than $29,680.  Around 75 percent work full-time, however schedules are not always consistent and many do night and weekend shifts, as patients need round-the-clock attention.

The demand for LPNs in only going to grow in the coming years, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating a 22 percent increase in employment in the next decade.  With those positive job prospects, if you are passionate about nursing, and love interacting with people to make their day brighter and get them on the path to health, this may be one of the most ideal career for you.

About the Author

Tara Jackson is an education and career prep enthusiast. When she’s not writing or researching colleges and careers for, she enjoys hiking in the mountains and traveling. @tjatedutrek

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