If you’re interested in working in the nursing field, one of the fasted ways to get started is to become an LPN, or licensed practical nurse. LPNs are also known as LVNs, or licensed vocational nurses, in some states, and no matter what your official job title, it is possible to become this type of nurse in as little as 12 months.
As an LPN, you’ll work under a supervisor who is either a registered nurse (RN) or doctor. Your LPN program will prepare you to complete a number of tasks in the nursing field, and readies you for bridge programs to become and RN or get an advanced degree in nursing, should you choose that option in the future.
Some of the things you’ll learn how to do in your LPN program include the following:
- Administer most types of medications (the biggest exception is IV push medications, which must be administered by an RN or doctor in most states)
- Take patient history information
- Perform basic examinations to measure patients (including recording height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature)
- Performing emergency life-saving procedures, like CPR
- Sterilizing exam rooms and equipment
- Filing medical records properly according to law
- Assisting patients with dressing, bathing, eating, walking, and preparing for examinations
- Monitoring long-term care patients
- Dressing minor wounds
- Assisting RNs and doctors in more complex procedures
- Collecting bodily fluid samples for routine lab tests
In addition, LPNs are often asked to step into supervisory roles, so your LPN program may include coursework on management and leadership. LPNs often supervise team of nursing assistants, aids, and orderlies, and they may also help run volunteer or youth internship programs. Good communication skills are a must, because on top of working as a supervisor, you may be the communication link between doctor and patient (or patient’s family). LPNs are often tasked with teaching patients or their families proper care procedures upon leaving the facility for home.
After completing an accredited LPN program, you’ll need to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN, in order to work in your state. The exam ensures that you’re ready to work in this field by testing your knowledge of safety, health, and integrity. You can also later seek certifications in specialties such as long-term care or pharmacology, or you can enter an LPN-to-RN program, which will qualify you for more advanced jobs in the field of nursing.
Getting your certification as an LPN is a great way to start in the nursing field. Nurses of all skill levels are in high demand across the United States, even in areas with high rates of unemployment. Hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, home healthcare services, and many other types of facilities all hire LPNs, so this is a great career choice no matter where you want to work.