There are several members of the medical staff who provide health care to people in various ways. The L.P.N. is one of these staff members. L.P.N. stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. A Licensed Practical Nurse works under the direct supervision of the Registered Nurse in the hierarchy of health care. They also assist in overseeing and managing Certified Nurse’s Assistants.
Licensed Practical Nurse Training is acquired via an accredited School of Nursing, usually at a university or other vocational training facility. L.V.N. stands for Licensed Vocational Nurse. This term is pretty much synonymous with L.P.N. despite the differing acronyms as they describe the same occupation. The L.P.N. has an active role in patient care and is a valued member of the healthcare team. The usually work directly under the R.N. but due to staff cutbacks and reduced funding may sometimes serve as a charge nurse themselves and work independently as long as an RN can be reached by phone.
The basic duties of an L.P.N. include hands-on patient care, wound care, IV therapy, such as starting IVs and changing IV bags and administering IV meds, obtaining blood for labs as ordered per the attending Physician, and passing medication along with patient assessment and charting, and being available to the certified nurse’s assistant who is working under their supervision. A L.P.N. may not administer IV push meds or perform initial admission assessments. It is very important that the L.P.N. does not perform duties outside his/her scope of practice as this may result in termination of employment, suspension of license and even harm to a patient.
The training program usually takes about 2 years to complete. This includes completing the college prerequisites and the actual Nursing program. In other words, you must have a high school diploma or G.E.D. and complete your premed college classes and then you can apply to an accredited school of nursing. If you are looking to pursue a nursing career then you should first consider where you will apply and find out in advance what the Nursing program requirements are. Once the requirements are met only then may you submit your application. Applying to a school of nursing does not mean you will get accepted. If you fail to gain acceptance on your first try you must try not to despair. Reevaluate your paperwork and ensure that your application packet is complete and that all requirements are met. Then you should reapply for the next school session. It would also be wise to apply to more than one nursing program to increase your odds of acceptance.
In order to gain licensure you must first have completed the nursing program and graduated. Then you are eligible to take a state licensure exam called the NCLEX-PN. The test is taken via computer and consists of several questions that are specific to your career field including, safety questions regarding patient care, medications and their attributes, state law regarding the L.P.N., and many more. Once you receive a passing grade you then must submit an application to the State Board of Nursing for your state. Each state varies in their requirements but most will want a background check, a photo, and sometimes even fingerprinting along with your application and proof of graduation via a copy of your diploma. This all can seem daunting but your nursing school should help prepare to meet these requirements.
Nursing is a challenging and multifaceted career field in which a L.P.N. can gain a great deal of knowledge and experience over a relatively short period of time. If you are interested in a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse you should talk to your local college or vocational school to find out more about the classes available to you.