What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

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The Versatile Role of LPNs

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) pursue vocational nursing degrees and training beyond that of certified nursing assistants. This education prepares them to provide fundamental bedside nursing care under the supervision and direction of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.

In their day-to-day work, LPNs deliver patient-centered, holistic care focused on illness prevention, health promotion and education, and truly understanding their patients’ health issues and concerns. They serve as integral members of the collaborative healthcare team across diverse settings.

Patients encounter LPNs in various environments, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, schools, homeless shelters, and more. Their training enables them to closely monitor patients’ conditions, administer medications, dress wounds, assist with activities of daily living, report updates to supervising providers, and much more. Specifically, LPNs may work under RNs and doctors in settings such as:


What Skills Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Require?

Effective communication abilities allow LPNs to collaborate smoothly with other healthcare team members like registered nurses, physicians, and additional providers. Thoughtful explanation of information to patients and families is also vital. A compassionate bedside manner greatly aids the provision of patient care, so those genuinely devoted to caring for others thrive as LPNs.

Sharp organizational talents help LPNs withstand the rapid pace and intense demands inherent in this role, where patients’ health relies heavily on the LPN’s skill in multitasking and data management.

The raw sights, smells, and textures that accompany direct patient care require a strong constitution and high threshold for bodily fluids and blood. Dealing with these challenges on a regular basis is not for everyone.

How Do You Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

To become a licensed practical nurse, you must have a high school diploma or GED to start the process. From there, you need to enroll in a practical nursing program accredited by proper authorities, typically found at community colleges or vocational schools. These programs combine classroom learning and supervised clinical experience in subjects such as:

Once completing an accredited LPN program, you must apply for authorization to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) through your state’s nursing board and a national nursing organization. Passing this standardized exam allows you to receive your license to legally work as an LPN.

There are opportunities to advance your LPN career through certification programs that demonstrate specialized expertise:

Many employers require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training for licensed practical nurses as well.

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