The licensed practical nurse (LPN) treats patients in long-term care homes, hospitals, convalescent facilities, clinics, and hospitals. Under supervision of physicians and registered nurses, the LPN can prepare patients for procedures, help patients bathe and dress, or take vital signs. Depending on state regulations, an LPN can also administer injections or monitor the work of certified nursing assistants (CNAs). An LPN can also collect samples for laboratory tests; dress wounds, or help prepare meals under strict nutritional guidelines.
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Preparing for a Career in Licensed Practical Nursing
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that you can complete a licensed practical nurse training program in a year or less with a certificate or degree. Many opportunities exist at nursing homes and convalescent hospitals where LPNs can gain practical experience. Many CNAs enroll in LPN classes to advance in their profession. LPNs can choose to add additional training to earn their nursing degree and become a registered nurse.
LPN Education and Training
Students complete their LPN certificate or degree programs before sitting for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). You cannot practice as an LPN in this country without obtaining a license. In care facilities, LPNs often are able to advance to supervisor positions or charge nurses and work under physicians' supervision.
Salary Range and Job Outlook for LPNs
The median annual wage for licensed practical nurses in 2008 was $39,030 with top-earners taking home $53,580. The BLS predicts a 21 percent increase in jobs for LPNs between 2008 and 2018.