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Licensed Practical Nurse / LPN / Licensed Vocational Nurse


How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Licensed Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse Salary
Influential Professionals in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Licensed Practical Nursing Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Licensed Practical Nurse

First, an important fact to note is that the title "Licensed Vocational Nurse" (LVN) only exists in California and Texas. The other 48 United States have "Licensed Practical Nurses" (LPN's) which by definition are exactly the same as LVN's. They complete the same training and take the same certification test. If a LVN moves to a state other than Texas or California, they can have can become a licensed LPN without any additional training or certification. From this point forward, whenever LPN is mentioned it will be meant to include LVN's as well.

In order to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you need to complete an accredited nursing program. These programs are usually taught at technical or vocational schools or at junior or community colleges. A good place to find a quality program in your area is the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). They are the national accrediting body for LPN education programs in the United States. They can be found at http://www.nlnac.org/home.htm.

Once you find out what schools offer LPN programs in your area, you should evaluate each of your options carefully. Different schools have different costs, facilities, and reputations. Visit their websites and campuses and decide which is most appropriate for your needs. An LPN can complete the required education in as little as one year, depending on the program they complete.

What does a Licensed Practical Nurse do?

LPN's perform various medical procedures that range from simple to complex. These procedure include: gathering patient health information, taking vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, etc.), assisting patients with their personal hygiene, preparing and administering injections, collecting lab samples and performing routine lab tests, teaching patients and their families about good health habits, taking care of babies, and supervising nursing assistants and aides. In order for LPN's to perform the above tasks legally, they must do so under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or physician.

LPN's often work in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, doctor's offices or for home health care agencies. They care for sick, injured, disabled or convalescent patients. While doctors usually have a specialty, LPN's are "generalists" that work very closely with their patients. They often spend significantly more one-on-one time with their patients than their supervising doctor or registered nurse.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

LPN's are required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. As previously mentioned, they must also complete a training course. Additionally, they must take and pass an examination in order to earn their LPN license, which is required in all states.

It is important for LPN's to be compassionate and caring. Good communication skills are also a plus as LPN's work closely with their patients and are often called on to interact with the patient's loved ones. Because LPN's are sometimes called on to draw blood, set up IV's and give injections, it is helpful for them to good hand-eye coordination.

LPN's should be capable of following instructions from their superiors and also pay strong attention to detail as mistakes can potentially be costly to their patients. They must also be emotionally strong as working with sick patients can sometimes be very stressful.

How much does a Licensed Practical Nurse make?

According to information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a full-time LPN is $36.550. The middle 50 percent earn between $31,080 and 43,640.

Factors that can affect the salary of an LPN include number of years of experience, the city where the LPN works, and the type of firm or organization where the nurse is employed. Also, according the U.S Dept. of Labor's BLS, the median salary for LPN's who work in various industries is as follows:

Employment services $42,110 Nursing care facilities 38,320 Home health care services 37,880 General medical and surgical hospitals 35,000 Offices of physicians 32,710


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Irene Burns is a veteran LPN and the current President of the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN). Whanita Hawk is also a longtime LPN and currently serves as the Vice President of the NFLPN as well as the President of the Maryland Licensed Practical Nurses Association, Inc. Marylou Flanagan is the President of the New York Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses as well as a member of the editorial advisory board of Advance magazine, a news magazine that is devoted exclusively to licensed practical (and vocational) nurses.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

As previously mentioned, the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN) is a professional organization for LPN's and LPN students in the United States. Their stated mission "is to foster high standards of nursing care and promote continued competence through education/certification and lifelong learning, with a focus on public protection." In addition to the NFLPN's national organization, there are more than a dozen "constituent state organizations" that fall within their auspices.

The National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc. (NAPNES) touts themselves as the "world's oldest LPN website." "NAPNES is dedicated to promoting and defending the practice, education and regulation of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN), Practical Nursing Educators, Practical Nursing Schools, and Practical Nursing Students. NAPNES has constituent state members throughout the U.S."

What are the top cities for Licensed Practical Nursing jobs?

The top five cities for jobs for LPN's are Phoenix (Dallas), Indianapolis (Cincinnati), and Chicago. Other cities with a high number of job opportunities for LPN's are Kansas City, Baltimore, Denver, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Houston, San Antonio, Nashville, Tulsa, Lafayette, Tucson, and New York City.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job market for LPN's will grow 14 percent between 2006 and 2016. This projected growth is "faster than average for all occupations, in response to the long-term care needs of an increasing elderly population and the general increase in demand for health care services."

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