Nursing: Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Meet Jeremy …
After graduating from high school, Jeremy wanted a
job in a growing field with room for advancement. The
following fall, he enrolled in a one-year program at a local
community college to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
Jeremy works in a team setting under the supervision of
physicians, registered nurses and other health professionals.
An LPN’s job description varies a lot, depending on where he or
she works. Generally, the job requires more scientific knowledge
and higher skill levels than those of a nurse assistant, but less than
those of a registered nurse. As an LPN, some of Jeremy’s
responsibilities might include giving injections, changing
dressings, measuring blood pressure and administering
prescribed medications. “As an LPN, you’re the front line of
patient care. A lot depends on you,” Jeremy says.
Depending on the setting, LPNs may also administer enemas
and douches, carry out catheterization and perform routine
laboratory procedures such as urinalysis. They may answer
patients’ calls, observe patients and report any changes of
condition to supervisory staff. They could supply patients with ice
bags and hot water bottles and give massages or alcohol rubs as
directed. Occasionally, LPNs make beds and clean rooms.
An LPN also provides significant emotional support to
patients and their families. According to Jeremy, an LPN also
needs strong interpersonal skills. “You spend a lot of your day
interacting with patients — so you have to enjoy working with
people. But it’s that interaction with the patients that makes my
job so rewarding.”Back to top
Career Q and A …
Q: What would I earn?
A: The average annual salary for a licensed
practical nurse in the Pittsburgh region is
about $30,000. Salary level tends to be
higher for people with more education
Becoming an LPN gives you many career
advancement opportunities. With some
experience in the field and just one more
year of school, you can become a
registered nurse (RN), a position with
more responsibilities and a higher salary.
Q: Where would I work?
A: LPN’s have several options for
employment, including doctors’ offices,
hospitals, clinics, schools, public health
agencies and nursing homes. LPNs
working in hospitals often concentrate in
specific patient care areas, including
surgical nursing, intensive care, labor and
delivery, pediatrics, emergency and
surgery recovery rooms.
Q: What kind of training would I need?
A: To become an LPN, you must complete
an accredited LPN program. These
programs are usually based in a hospital,
secondary vocational center or community
college. Your training program will likely
combine academic study with clinical
experience, and last from twelve to
eighteen months. To enter these
programs, you need a high school diploma
and excellent math and reading skills. You can improve your chances of admission
by taking and doing well in biology,
chemistry, health and computer science
courses in high school.
To practice nursing, you have to pass a
certification exam, called the National
Council Licensing Examination for
Practical Nurses, and then you have
to apply for a license from the state
where you want to work.
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Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at a glance...
Back to top
|Type of Work
||Care for patients under direction of nurse or physician
||Acute facilities (hospitals) and non-acute facilities (nursing homes), all shifts 25% work part time
||Algebra, chemistry and biology with lab; an understanding of computers and technology very helpful
|Post Secondary Requirements
||Basic nursing concepts and patient care-related subjects
|Licensure or Certification
||Licensing via examination
||Preferred, usually in hospital
||Education and training for advancement to Registered Nurse
|Average Annual Salary
||Short programs, competitive regional salary, medical benefits, tuition assistance
These places will help you prepare to be a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), view listings.