Career Development

Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are a type of healthcare worker with advanced training and skills. They work with doctors, registered nurses, and other members of a healthcare team to provide patient care.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are a type of healthcare worker with advanced training and skills. They work with doctors, registered nurses, and other members of a healthcare team to provide patient care.

The most important aspect of being an LPN is their focus on the direct care of patients. This includes everything from administering medications to wound treatment to light physical rehabilitation. In many cases, LPNs will work under the supervision of a registered nurse or a physician, but they may also work independently in some cases as well.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a licensed practical nurse and what it takes to become one yourself.

Licensed Practical Nurse Job Duties

Licensed practical nurses are responsible for a wide range of duties:

  • Collect and record patient data, such as vital signs, dietary habits, and general health status, to provide basic medical care
  • Prepare patients for examinations or treatments by washing their hands with antiseptic solutions or applying dressing materials
  • Maintain accurate records of treatment procedures and outcomes for each patient
  • Explain procedures to patients before treatment begins 
  • Administer medications orally or through injection using standard methods
  • Instructing patients on proper hygiene and nutrition methods based on their specific needs and conditions
  • Coordinating care with other medical professionals such as social workers and speech therapists
  • Staying current on new developments in nursing through continuing education courses provided by employers or through membership in professional nursing associations

Licensed Practical Nurse Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for licensed practical nurses is $54,179. Those earning higher wages tend to work in nursing care facilities, and the top earners are bringing home over $73,000 per year.

The employment of licensed practical nurses is projected to grow much faster than average over the next decade. This growth is due to an increasing demand for long-term care services as baby boomers age into retirement. As more people need long term care, more LPNs will be required to provide that care.

Licensed Practical Nurse Job Requirements

The requirements for licensed practical nurses are as follows:

Education: Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) should earn an associate degree or a certificate from an accredited nursing program. Students in these programs study topics like nursing theory, human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology and medical ethics. These subjects provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to begin their careers as LPNs.

Training: LPNs should expect to undergo on-the-job training once they begin working. This allows an employer to explain their specific healthcare needs and guidelines. If the LPN will be working as part of a team, this training allows the LPN to integrate seamlessly with their coworkers to become an efficient unit. During training, they may also receive instruction on how to follow certain protocols and processes.

Off-the-job training is also available for LPNs in the form of conferences and seminars. As the healthcare industry constantly changes and new laws are passed, keeping current with these advances allows a LPN to excel within their role. During a conference or seminar, an LPN could learn the latest in industry trends and new prevention techniques. They can also connect with fellow nurses who can share industry knowledge.

Certifications & Licenses: Licensed practical nurses are required to hold an active license from the state in which they work. The licensing process varies by state, but it generally requires passing a national exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Licensed Practical Nurse Skills

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) need a wide range of skills to do their jobs well. Some of the most important include:

Patience: An LPN must be able to work with many different types of people and handle stressful situations calmly.

Good communication skills: An LPN must be able to clearly communicate with patients, family members, and other health care professionals.

Nursing knowledge: An LPN should have at least some basic nursing knowledge so that he or she can better assess patient needs and refer them to medical staff when necessary.

Detail-oriented: Because of the high volume of patients that an LPN may see each day, he or she must pay close attention to detail when recording information in patient files. 

Ability to provide emotional support: Patients may be frightened or upset when they are sick but a good nurse can help them feel more comfortable so they can get better more quickly.

Physical stamina: This is a demanding job that requires physical strength as well as endurance as shifts often run for 12 hours or more at a time while keeping up high productivity levels

Licensed Practical Nurse Work Environment

Licensed practical nurses can usually choose where they work, from hospitals to private homes. LPNs must often be on their feet for much of the day. They are vulnerable to back injuries, because they may have to lift patients who have trouble moving in bed, standing, or walking. These duties can be stressful, as can dealing with ill and injured people. 

Licensed practical nurses always work under the direction of registered nurses or doctors. Most work full time. Many work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 12 hours.

Licensed Practical Nurse Career Path

Getting Started

The field is highly competitive, with many aspiring to work in hospitals and clinics. To get a foot in the door, practical nurses must complete an accredited course of study and pass a state certification exam. Once hired, new nurses are assigned to nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. They spend their days assisting the more experienced nurses, following treatment regimens and advising patients, and administering medications. Most nurses who stay in the field like the job; they like helping people and take satisfaction from seeing patients get better. The hours can be long and irregular; take-home pay is average.

Five Years On The Job

With five years’ experience, the licensed practical nurse has become comfortable in his or her role. Some move into supervisory positions or onto other health care paths such as registered nurses. The longer people stay in the industry, the more likely they are to earn higher salaries and enjoy more benefits and flexibility in their work schedules.

Ten Years On The Job

Most LPNs have worked in the same facility for at least five years. Those who have gone into private nursing homes or clinics have moved up in responsibility to head nurse or charge nurse status. A few have left the field for related jobs in other health care professions. The work is steady and satisfying, although there is little room for advancement at this level without further schooling in another health care profession or in business administration.

Licensed Practical Nurse Trends

Here are three trends influencing how licensed practical nurses work. Licensed practical nurses will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increasing Focus on Safety

For those working in the healthcare field, safety is of paramount importance—as such, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) will increasingly need to focus on reducing medical errors as they relate to patient care.

This means that LPNs and RNs will need to learn how to work more efficiently, use technology to streamline their job tasks and adhere to strict standards for infection control and proper storage of medical supplies.

Increased Focus on Preventative Care for the Elderly

As the population ages, many hospitals are starting to offer preventative care programs that focus on helping patients maintain their health and wellness throughout their lives.

Nurses who can effectively communicate with older patients will be in high demand as they continue to care for the increasing number of elderly individuals across the country. 

The Importance of Tech-Savvy Nurses

Although technology has always been an important part of the nursing profession, the rising importance of technology is making it more important than ever for nurses to develop strong tech skills.

As medical records are increasingly digitized, nurses will need to know how to use this information efficiently and effectively in order to provide quality care.

How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

1. Planning Your Career

If you’re thinking about becoming a licensed practical nurse, it’s important to keep in mind that the field is quite competitive. You will need to invest in an education at a certified vocational school or college, which can be expensive. However, many employers are willing to pay for this training, so it could end up being worth your while.

Once you have graduated from school and received your license, it’s time to start building your professional network. If you are lucky enough to have someone who can vouch for you, you may be able to land a job without any experience at all. But if not, it’s important to take advantage of opportunities like volunteer work or entry-level positions where you can build up your resume with relevant experience.

Nursing can be emotionally draining, so it’s important to have a passion for helping others.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for LPN positions showcase your ability to care for and treat patients. Your resume should include information about past work experience, any relevant training or continuing education, your ability to communicate effectively with patients and staff, and any technical skills you have.

To demonstrate your ability to deeply interact with patients, it’s important that you include examples of how you have assisted them in their recovery. This will also show your compassion toward other people. You can highlight this skill by providing details of how you assisted them or helping them overcome personal challenges while being hospitalized.

It’s important to include any relevant certifications or training that you have obtained so employers know that you are current on the latest developments in your field.

3. Applying for Jobs

When you’re looking for a job as a Licensed Practical Nurse, it’s helpful to network with people in your field. This means attending events like conferences, visiting the workplace of current LPNs, and speaking with people on social media. As you network, be sure to ask questions about which organizations are most reputable and why. Tell your contacts that you’re interested in getting your foot in the door. If they know someone who is hiring or will soon be hiring, they may be able to give you some inside information.

To find positions on your own, visit websites like Indeed.com and Monster.com. For a direct approach, call or visit hospitals or nursing homes near you and ask if they have any positions available. It can also be helpful to research professional organizations for licensed practical nurses. These will likely have networking events, mailing lists, or other resources related to your career path. 

4. Ace the Interview

In an interview for a licensed practical nurse position, the interviewer will want to know that you have the necessary skills and qualifications for the job. In addition to being prepared to discuss your knowledge of medical terminology, medical conditions, and treatments, you will also need to be ready for questions regarding your communication and interpersonal skills.

A LPN interview typically includes a number of situational questions. The interviewer may ask how you would handle a situation in which a patient demands a procedure against his doctor’s orders. He might ask how you would handle a conflict between two patients or how you would manage a situation in which an irate family member is protesting treatment decisions.

When preparing for an LPN interview, consider how you would respond to these types of questions if they arose in real life. If none of these situations has actually come up for you before, try to think about how you would prefer to deal with these situations if they arose.

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