Licensed Practical Nurse


The LPN job description was born in the late 1800s and has been evolving ever since.  The first LPN training program was established in 1892 by the Young Women’s Christian Association in New York City.  The job of the LPN became standardized and more official by the National League of Nursing in 1917.  Today, LPNs work alongside registered nurses and other healthcare professionals to provide total patient care in a variety of settings.

While many hospitals are replacing LPNs with registered nurses, there are still many job opportunities available in various sectors of healthcare.



Licensed Practical Nurse Salary

The average LPN salary is $42,174 per year.  The lowest 10 percent LPN salary is $35,574 per year and the highest 10 percent licensed practical nurse salary is around $49,526 per year.

How much you earn will depend on things like where you work and who you work for.  You also need to consider things like your level of experience, your education level, whether you have earned any certificates and your setting.  For example, an LPN tends to earn more in a hospital setting than in a nursing home.


Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description

When answering the question, “what is an LPN nurse” you will find a wide variety of duties and roles and these ultimately depend on where you work.  The following tasks are within the LPN scope of practice and may be performed by this type of nurse:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Administering certain treatments
  • Providing hygiene and personal care to patients
  • Documents patient care
  • Takes and records vital signs
  • Performs cleaning and safety care
  • Assists the physician with certain tasks
  • Can initiate CPR
  • Acts as a patient advocate
  • Practices within the LPN scope of practice
  • Assists the registered nurse

This type of nurse can work in many different settings.  The majority of LPNs work in nursing homes, home healthcare and other long-term care facilities.  However, they can also find employment in doctor’s offices, major hospitals and outpatient centers.  Your roles and duties will depend on where you work.  For example, an LPN working in a doctor’s office may check in patients, take vital signs, take patient histories and help in determining the patient’s chief complaint.  In a nursing home, this type of nurse may provide almost total care for a set of patients.


Licensed Practical Nurse Education

To become a licensed practical nurse you will need to complete an accredited training program.  You will complete a mixture of classroom study and clinical hours.  It will take one to two years to complete your degree, depending on your school and the type of program you are pursuing.  For example, some schools offer an associate degree on the LPN level and this will take two years to complete.  Schools who offer diplomas generally take one year to complete.  The following courses are common in LPN programs:

  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Medical calculations
  • Anatomy and physiology

These are just example classes because each program will differ a bit in what you need to take.  Which classes require a clinical or a laboratory component will also differ among schools and programs.


Licensed Practical Nurse Certification and Licensing

To become an LPN you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.  This exam assesses whether or not you have the minimum level of competency necessary to enter the LPN job market.  Those who pass this examination are deemed safe practitioners and able to learn and grow as an LPN.

LPNs may also pursue additional certification to increase their marketability and to enhance their knowledge in a specific field.  LPN certifications can help to:

  • Make you more marketable
  • Give you greater mobility in healthcare
  • Allow you to carve out a career in the specialty that you like the most

The following certifications can be pursued by LPNs:

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Basic Cardiac Life Support
  • Case Management
  • Certified Clinical Research Associate
  • Certified Clinic Research Coordinator
  • Certified Correctional Health Professional
  • Certified Hemodialysis Nurse
  • Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse
  • Certified Peritoneal Dialysis Nurse
  • Developmental Disabilities Certification
  • Gerontology
  • Healthcare Quality
  • IV Certification
  • Long-Term Care
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support
  • Pharmacology
  • Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist
  • Transplant Coordinator
  • Urology
  • Wound Care Certification

Each of the above certificates have different requirements.  However, most will require that you have at least one years of experience and that you have an unrestricted LPN license.  You will most likely need to pass an examination to gain your certification and will need to complete a set amount of continuing education credits to maintain certification.  The various life support certifications require that you renew them every two years and that you take a retraining class to be recertified.


Licensed Practical Nurse Job Outlook

Between 2010 and 2020 the job prospects for LPNs are expected to increase by 21 percent.  This is faster than the national average.

Many LPNs work in nursing homes and with the older population in the United States increasing rapidly, more and more LPNs will be needed to meet this demand.  LPNs will also be needed in the hospital setting to assist with various types of patients because more patients will have access to healthcare in 2014.  This type of nurse also plays a major role in the home healthcare industry and often takes on a full patient load on his or her own.



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