Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Overview
In general, you can earn a certification to work as a Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse in about a year through programs at career colleges, community colleges and technical schools. While the job outlook varies by industry, job prospects in the field are projected to be very good. As workers permanently leave the occupation, new Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses will be in demand.
Nature of the Work for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses work under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians, caring for sick, injured, disabled and convalescent patients.
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses provide basic bedside care to patients in addition to other job duties. Often this includes helping patients with personal hygiene, bathing, dressing, walking, standing and getting comfortable in bed. Recording vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature are also typically a part of a Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse’s day. Often, they also monitor catheters, dress wounds, give enemas, collect samples for testing and perform other similar tasks.
Monitoring patients, reporting reactions to treatments, recording fluid and food intake, gathering health histories and asking about current conditions are all important tasks LPNs perform regularly. They may also need to complete insurance forms and referrals, discuss health conditions with doctors to determine a course of care and teach relatives how to care for a patient at home. Depending on the area of the hospital they are assigned to, some may even help deliver and care for infants. With experience, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses can take on supervisory roles over nursing aides and assistants.
The job duties and supervision requirements of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses vary by state and setting. In some states, more advanced tasks such as administering prescription medications, caring for patients dependent on ventilators and starting intravenous fluids are also commonplace.
While most Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses are generalists and qualified to work in any aspect of healthcare, some choose to specialize in one area such as home healthcare, doctor’s offices or nursing homes and duties may vary accordingly. For example, in a physician’s office expectations may include making appointments and clerical duties, even though home healthcare Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses may need to prepare meals instead.
Typically, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses work 40 hours a week. In fact, only about 18 percent of workers in the field held part-time hours in 2008. In places of employment that require 24-hour care like hospitals, working nights, weekends and holidays isn’t unusual.
In this career, workers spend many hours on their feet. Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses are called upon to help patients stand, walk and move in bed. With moving patients, comes the hazard of back injuries. Infectious diseases, radiation and caustic chemicals pose hazards on the job, too. And LPNs must be mentally strong to handle the stress that comes with heavy workloads and potentially troubling patients that may be uncooperative, agitated or confused.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
State-approved programs at career colleges, technical schools and community colleges offer practical nursing training programs that will prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-PN and begin work in the field of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses. That said, a few students enroll in programs at hospitals, colleges, universities and even high schools. The NCLEX-PN covers the main areas of patient needs: health promotion and maintenance, safe and effective care environment, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity.
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses programs are usually one year long and require classroom hours and hands-on patient care skills obtained through supervised clinical practice most often completed in a hospital setting. Students learn anatomy, nutrition, first aid, pharmacology, physiology, pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing and obstetrics nursing. Throughout the career, LPNs must plan to continue their education—credits are often required to keep licensure and to stay up-to-date in the field.
To excel in the occupation of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses candidates should be sympathetic and compassionate as well as emotionally headstrong to deal with the stress of caring for sick and injured patients. A keen eye for details, the ability to make confident decisions on the fly and good communication skills will also prove valuable. Expect to work on a team under close supervision.
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses that want to advance their careers can seek extra credentials in specialties such as pharmacology, long-term care, IV therapy or gerontology. A LPN-to-RN training program can pave the way to a career bump as a Registered Nurse. Or, in workplaces such as nursing homes, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses can work towards supervisory positions in charge of other LPNs and aides.
Top 10 Most Popular Licensed Practical /Vocational Nurse Training Schools
1. Madison Area Technical College (Madison, Wisconsin)
2. Summit Career College, Colton (Colton, California)
3. Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo (Waterloo, Iowa)
4. West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah (Paducah, Kentucky)
5. Eastern Suffolk BOCES - School of Practical Nursing (Patchogue, New York)
6. Instituto de Banca y Comercio, San Juan (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
7. Medical Careers Institute (Multiple Campus Locations)
8. D G Erwin Technical Center (Tampa, Florida)
9. Jefferson Community & Technical College, Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky)
10. Concorde Career College (Multiple Campus Locations)
Most Popular Online Licensed Practical /Vocational Nurse Training Schools
Employment and Job Outlook for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Number of People in Profession
Changing Employment (2008-2018)
Employment is projected to grow much faster than average (increase 20% or more).
Job Opportunities & Competition
Very good to excellent job opportunities. Job openings may be more numerous than job seekers.
The projected career outlook for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses is very good overall, with an expected growth in employment that’s much faster than average. However, nursing care facilities and home healthcare services will provide the best opportunities.
From 2008 to 2018 employment of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses is projected to increase by 21 percent, in part because of the general increase in demand for healthcare and the growing elderly population who will require long-term care. The improvement of medical technology means that people are living longer lives. In addition, the older population typically has a higher rate of injuries and illnesses demanding care. So, elder care settings such as nursing care facilities, home healthcare services and community care facilities will see the biggest jump in job opportunities.
Another healthcare change that favors Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses is that more and more procedures that used to be performed in hospitals are being performed in doctor’s office and outpatient care centers due to better technology and an effort to control costs. This factor makes opportunities in outpatient care centers and physician’s offices favorable.
Despite the employment trends, hospitals are and will continue to be one of the largest employers of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses. As workers leave the occupation, they’ll need to be replaced by newly qualified workers. Like most careers in the healthcare industry Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses are expected to see very good job opportunities. Prospective employees in rural areas and those seeking openings in nursing care facilities and home healthcare services will find some of the best job prospects in the field.
Earnings and Salary for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses earned median annual wages of $39,030 with the middle 50 percent earning between $33,360 and $46,710. On the high end, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses earned more than $53,580 and on the low end, they earned less than $28,260. The median annual wages for the top industries employing Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses are:
Offices of physicians: $35,020
General medical and surgical hospitals: $38,080
Home health care services: $39,510
Nursing care facilities: $40,580
Employment services: $44,690
Annual Salary for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
On average, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses earn $39,820 per year.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook