Career Development

What Does a Registered Practical Nurse Do?

Find out what a registered practical nurse does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a registered practical nurse.

A registered practical nurse (RPN) is a healthcare professional who provides basic nursing care and support to patients in hospitals, clinics, and other settings. They are not as highly trained or specialized as registered nurses (RNs), but they still play an important role in the health care system.

Registered practical nurses have a wide range of responsibilities, including taking vital signs, administering medications, performing wound care, assisting with diagnostic tests, etc.

Registered Practical Nurse Job Duties

Registered practical nurses have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Coordinating with doctors and other medical staff to ensure that patients are receiving appropriate care
  • Providing basic nursing care such as bathing, grooming, feeding, dressing, hygiene care, and wound care
  • Conducting diagnostic tests to identify illnesses and refer patients for further treatment
  • Performing administrative tasks such as filing medical records and maintaining patient charts
  • Administering medications and providing nursing care to patients in hospitals or other health care facilities
  • Performing basic nursing procedures such as taking vital signs, changing bandages, and administering injections
  • Maintaining a clean and safe work environment by following infection control procedures and sterilization guidelines
  • Recording health history information and other data about patients in order to provide appropriate care
  • Explaining procedures to patients and their families, as well as providing emotional support during difficult times

Registered Practical Nurse Salary & Outlook

Registered practical nurses’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the size of the hospital or medical facility where they work, and the geographic location of their job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $62,500 ($30.05/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $97,000 ($46.63/hour)

The employment of registered practical nurses (RPNs) is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for healthcare services will increase as the large baby-boom population ages and people live longer with chronic conditions. RPNs will be needed to provide basic care for patients, such as administering medication or changing bandages.

Related: In-Depth Registered Practical Nurse Salary Guide

Registered Practical Nurse Job Requirements

There are a number of qualifications required to obtain a position as a registered practical nurse. They include:

Education: Most employers require registered practical nurses to have at least an associate degree or a diploma from a technical nursing program. These programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology and other nursing subjects.

Training & Experience: After graduating from an accredited nursing program, newly hired registered nurses will receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training will familiarize the RN with the hospital or clinic’s policies and procedures. It will also teach them how to use the facility’s equipment and interact with the other staff members.

Some RNs choose to pursue a career as a CRNA. These nurses undergo extensive training to become certified. They must complete a master’s degree program and a clinical residency program. The master’s program will prepare them to become a registered nurse, while the clinical residency program will prepare them to become a CRNA.

Certifications & Licenses: After completing the required education, a registered practical nurse must complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

Registered Practical Nurse Skills

Registered practical nurses need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Practical nurses must be able to communicate with patients, doctors, other medical staff and patients’ families. This requires strong listening and speaking skills, as well as the ability to write and read medical records and other documents. Practical nurses must also be able to communicate with patients in a way that is easy to understand, even if the patient has a language barrier.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Practical nurses must have empathy to better serve their patients. For example, if a patient is experiencing pain, an empathetic practical nurse would be able to understand and share the patient’s feelings to help them feel better. Practical nurses with empathy can also better comfort patients who are anxious or afraid.

Time management: As a registered practical nurse, you may be responsible for multiple patients at once. It’s important to prioritize your tasks and manage your time effectively to ensure you meet the needs of all your patients. This may include prioritizing tasks based on the urgency of the task and the patient’s condition.

Organization: Practical nurses need to be able to organize their time and tasks effectively. This is because they often have many patients to care for and many duties to complete. Being able to prioritize your tasks and keep your work area clean and organized can help you be more efficient and effective in your work.

Medical knowledge: Practical nurses should have a basic understanding of medical procedures and practices. This can help them perform their duties more effectively and safely. Medical knowledge can also help them communicate more effectively with doctors and other medical professionals.

Registered Practical Nurse Work Environment

Registered practical nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and home health care agencies. They work under the supervision of a registered nurse, physician, or other health care professional. They may work the usual 40-hour workweek, although they may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may also be on call, which means they are available to work at any time. Registered practical nurses may be exposed to infectious diseases, hazardous materials, and radiation. They may also be exposed to emotional and physical stress.

Registered Practical Nurse Trends

Here are three trends influencing how registered practical nurses work. Registered 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.

The Growth of Telehealth

The growth of telehealth is a trend that is quickly changing the healthcare industry. As technology advances, more and more people are turning to telehealth services for medical care. This is because it offers many benefits, such as convenience, affordability, and comfort.

Registered nurses who are interested in telehealth can find opportunities in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They can also work with a variety of different providers, such as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and health systems.

Patient Engagement Will Be More Important Than Ever

As patients become more engaged in their own care, they will place a higher value on having a nurse who is able to communicate effectively with them. This means that registered nurses will need to be able to not only provide excellent patient care, but also communicate with patients in a way that makes them feel comfortable and understood.

In order to be successful in this new environment, registered nurses will need to be able to utilize technology to connect with patients in new and innovative ways. This includes using social media platforms to share information about patients’ conditions and treatments, as well as using video chat to allow patients to see and talk to their nurses in real time.

More Attention to Patient Safety

The focus on patient safety has been increasing in recent years, as hospitals and other healthcare facilities have realized the importance of ensuring that patients are safe from harm.

Registered nurses are in a unique position to help with this effort, as they are often the first line of defense against potential hazards. By being aware of potential risks and taking steps to mitigate them, RNs can help to keep patients safe and ensure that they receive the best possible care.

How to Become a Registered Practical Nurse

A registered practical nurse (RPN) career can be a great way to start your nursing career. As an RPN, you’ll have the opportunity to work in many different settings and with a variety of patients. You’ll also learn important skills that will help you move up the ladder in your nursing career.

One of the best things about an RPN career is that it’s flexible. You can work part-time or full-time, day or night shifts, and even weekends if you want. This makes it easy to balance your career with other responsibilities, such as family or school.

Related: How to Write a Registered Practical Nurse Resume

Advancement Prospects

Many registered practical nurses (RPNs) choose to continue their education and become registered nurses (RNs). RNs have more responsibilities and earn a higher salary than RPNs. In order to become an RN, RPNs must complete a nursing program at a college or university. Some RPNs may also choose to specialize in a certain area of nursing, such as geriatrics or palliative care.

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