Whether you are just going into nursing or you are a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and want to further your career options, getting a degree and taking the test to become an LPN will not only further your career, but will also increase the amount you earn in the nursing field. A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) has more responsibility than a CNA, and while both are held to high standards, an LPN is held to higher standards of care than a CNA. An LPN works under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse (RN). In Texas and California, an LPN is referred to as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN).
To enroll in an LPN program, the student must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. The nursing program is a two-year program. You have several options of completing this program, including Community College or online schools. Some high schools even have a program for students to become an LPN.
Depending on which school you choose, courses may include:
•Medical surgical nursing
Once you complete the two-year training and get your degree, you may be required to work in the field for a short time then you must take the national exam. The national exam (NCLEX-PN) gives you your license to practice. Depending on which state you are in, you may also be required to take a state exam.
Whether you go into pediatrics, geriatrics or any other type of nursing, you must have excellent communication skills, the ability to work under stressful conditions and the ability to work under supervision. Some types of nursing require longer hours and are more stressful than others. For example, working in an emergency room is more high-paced and stressful than working in a pediatrics office.
Other things that you may be required to do as part of your job include:
•Monitoring vital signs
•Taking vital signs
•Answering patient calls
•Administering alcohol rubs, ice packs, and hot water bottles
•Prevention and treatment of bedsores
•Maintaining medical records and other documentation
•Feeding and cleaning patients
An LPN also watches to ensure patients do not have a reaction to medications, and if they do, to notify the doctor or RN. An LPN also preps patients for testing procedures and may even set up the testing equipment.
Additional Responsibility and Summary
Other responsibilities might include setting up breathing/oxygen machines, catheters, ordering medical supplies and setting up IVs. An experienced LPN may also be allowed to supervise LPNs with less experience and training.
Because doctors and RNs rely heavily on LPNs to help with patient care and prep work, an LPN must have the proper training and experience. Working under more experienced LPNs also helps an LPN move up the chain quickly to a position with more responsibility, such as working in an emergency room or in an intensive care unit.