Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
In today’s healthcare, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) play a vital role. At the height of nursing shortage, these members of the healthcare team also provide care to clients similar to that of Registered Nurses (RNs). But beforehand, it should be understood that LPNs and LVNs are one and the same. LPN as a title is used in majority of States, except for California and Texas where they are called LVN and their programs are titled as such. It is also clear that the practice may vary from state to state. Despite this difference, it cannot be discounted that they aid the nursing shortage.
To practice as vocational or practical nurse, one must complete a state-approved program to be eligible for licensure. Education under practical nursing program typically lasts for one year and it includes both classroom and supervised clinical exposure. The program, which is offered by vocational and technical schools, or community colleges cover basic concepts in nursing aligned with patient care. After completion of the program, graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse) to obtain a license to practice as LPN. The mode of the examination is similar to that of NCLEX-RN which is a computer adaptive exam that varies in length.
The practice of LPNs is considered dependent. State requirements provide provision for the extent of their practice and that they work under the supervision or direction by physicians, and registered nurses. LPN/ LVN’s practice generally include the following:
- Measuring and recording vital signs
- Provide hygienic measures: bathing, dressing, oral care
- Assisting client in mobility: standing, walking
- Provide comfort measures: alcohol rubs, therapeutic massages
- Prepare and administer enemas
- Monitor catheters
- Record food and fluid intake and output
- Cleaning and maintenance of medical equipment
- Administer medicines, start intravenous fluids (in some States)
The activities that LPNs perform are not limited to those enumerated above as most LPNs are considered generalists, that is, they can work in any healthcare setting such as home care, and outpatient clinics. LPNs earn between $35,000 to $45,000 annually and this is usually dependent on the setting where they are assigned and varies per State.
The trend in practice nowadays is that, more and more LPNs are accelerating their educational preparation and qualifications. LPNs sometimes opt to become Registered Nurses through LPN-to-RN training programs. Credentialing in specialties like intravenous therapy, gerontology, and long-term care are also available for LPNs.