Licensed Practical Nurse Career
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) cares for people who are sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled under the direction of physicians and registered nurses.
Common Work Tasks
- Measure and record patients’ vital signs such as height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration
- Prepare and give injections and enemas, monitor catheters, dress wounds, and give alcohol rubs and massages
- Assist with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene, moving in bed, standing, and walking
- Collect samples for testing, perform routine laboratory tests, and record food and fluid intake and output
- Help physicians and registered nurses perform tests and procedures
- Monitor their patients and report adverse reactions to medications or treatments
- Gather information from patients, including their health history and how they are currently feeling
- Use information to complete insurance forms, pre-authorizations, and referrals, and share information with registered nurses and doctors to help determine the best course of care for a patient
- Teach family members how to care for a relative or teach patients about good health habits
- Work in a specialized settings, such as a nursing homes, a doctor’s offices, or in home health care
Other Job Titles
Licensed Practical Nurses are also known by other titles, including:
- Licensed Vocational Nurses
- Nursing Assistants
Education, Training, and Experience
Education and Training
Most training programs, lasting about 1 year, are offered by vocational or technical schools or community or junior colleges. A high school diploma or its equivalent usually is required for entry, although some programs accept candidates without a diploma, and some programs are part of a high school curriculum.
Certification and Licensure
The NCLEX-PN licensing exam is required in order to obtain licensure as an LPN. The exam is developed and administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The NCLEX-PN is a computer-based exam and varies in length. The exam covers four major categories: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.
LPNs should have a caring, sympathetic nature. They should be emotionally stable because working with the sick and injured can be stressful. They also need to be observant, and to have good decision-making and communication skills. As part of a health-care team, they must be able to follow orders and work under close supervision.
The median annual salary for a Licensed Practical Nurse is $38,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $52,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $27,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of licensed practical nurses are:
- Nursing Care Facilities - $40,550
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $37,790
- Offices of Physicians - $34,820
- Home Health Care Services - $40,440
- Employment Services - $43,700
- 2006-2016 Employment growth: 14%
- Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 105,000
- Employment 2006 : 749,000
- Employment 2016: 854,000