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The Role of a Licensed Practical Nurse in a Hospital

Job Descriptions May 3, 2013

An LPN or Licensed Practical Nurse is a nurse that typically works outside hospitals or traditional medical settings. For example, an LPN may work in a doctor’s office, an assisted living home or nursing home, or a hospice service. Still, that does not mean that LPNs are unwelcome at large city hospitals. Hospitals will hire these workers to perform various tasks on behalf of patients or doctors. This service involves day to day routines and needs, as opposed to specialized tasks that a Registered Nurse must perform. Consider some of these duties.

Helping Patients

Patient management is one vital need that LPNs will meet. There are no standardized tasks associated with this position, and it might change from hospital to hospital. However, the Licensed Practical Nurse generally cares for the patient and assumes responsibility for his or her well-being. This will certainly include checking in a patient and monitoring his or her diet and apparent physical condition. There may also be a need to explain certain upcoming procedures. On the other hand, providing solace for a worried or depressed patient is another essential part of the job. Other necessary tasks might include helping a patient with hygiene concerns, or even helping the person bathe.

Basic Medical Procedures

While an LPN cannot do everything that a registered nurse does, they can perform some basic medical procedures. For instance, a Licensed Practical Nurse can take vital statistics. They can monitor changes in conditions and report back to nurses and doctors on a patient’s signs.

Additionally, LPN workers can perform some tasks for patients, such as cleaning up injuries and changing a patient’s dressings. A patient might need assistance with physical therapy; so an LPN can help with turning patients over, taking temperatures, or maybe even help move the patient for a wider range of motion.

You can go further as a Licensed Practical Nurse by advancing your education. Certification is required before you can work with IVs and other medical tools or supplies. The same is true in using catheters, and recording information regarding incontinence.

Charts and Medicine

As someone who will be working with patients often, you will sometimes be put in charge of charting patients, or recording all vital data for a doctor and RN’s review. These charts are the building blocks of healing and medicine, as they are a communication tool that will help convey information quickly. Charting involves taking down vital signs, listing procedures, making notes, and writing down billing codes. This is not merely an administrative assistant’s task since you must be aware of common medical terminology. You must also learn about coding and testing since you will have to run tests on patients, including blood tests, stool samples, urine tests, and other tests that will be sent to a lab. You will be recording this information, so some standardized competency is required.

Understanding some basics on medication is also a good idea, since you may be asked to dispense medicine to patients, based on the order stipulated by doctors. You will record this information and monitor the patients to make sure everything is proceeding as assigned.

With a solid education, it is only a matter of time before you can find a job in a hospital, nursing home, clinic and so forth. However, hospital jobs are actually increasing because of the help they need. It is still predicted to increase up until 2020!

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