What Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do?
If you’re a caretaker by nature, consider this job. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), provide hands-on medical care to patients. They work under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or a doctor. The biggest difference between an LPN and an LVN is location: Only California and Texas use the LVN acronym.
Most LPNs provide basic bedside care and take vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration. These essential workers also prepare and give injections, apply dressings and monitor catheters. They help patients with dressing and personal hygiene, keep them comfortable and respond to requests. Job duties vary depending on the state and the setting where an LPN works. For example, in some states, an LPN with training can start intravenous fluids.
- Measure and monitor vital signs
- Administer and monitor some medications
- Assist doctors and nurses with tests and procedures
- Maintain patient records
- Help patients eat, dress and bathe
- Update doctors and nurses on patient status
A college degree is not required to become an LPN. Most complete their education through a state-approved program offered at a community college or technical school, and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Programs typically take about 12 months to complete. After that, prospective LPNs and LVNs take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Earning this license is required in all states.
- Have an empathetic and caring nature
- Are detail-oriented
- Have excellent communication skills
- Are good at handling multiple tasks under pressure
- Have patience