Nursing is a respected and rewarding career path, but there are so many types of nurses, how do you know which path to choose? We hope to answer your questions to give you an idea of whether becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse is right for you.
What is the Difference Between an LPN and an LVN?
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) are essentially the same. They have the same roles, duties, and skills. The key between the two is their geographical location. In California and Texas, the position is called an LVN, but everywhere else in the country, a person who has the same job is called an LPN.
What is the Difference Between a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a Registered Nurse (RN)?
An LPN and a Registered Nurse (RN) are pretty different. While LPNs are responsible for making patients feel comfortable and primary nursing care, such as checking vitals, RNs administer medications and treatment, running diagnostic tests, and educating patients and their families.
To become an LPN, you need to complete an accredited program that combines biology, nursing, pharmacology, and clinical experience under supervision. It usually lasts about one year. Then you have to use your certificate to obtain a license.
To become an LPN, you need to complete a nursing course from a state-approved program. They’ll give you a certificate. To become an RN, you need either a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing school and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
What Work Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do Day to Day?
An LPN is responsible for routine patient care, helping to maintain hygiene, observing patient health, and assisting doctors and RNs.
Daily duties of an LPN:
Keep patient records
Discuss treatments with patients and answer their questions
Report patient information to doctors and RNs
Monitor patient health and vitals
Changing bandages and catheters
Help make patients comfortable (assist with bathing or dressing)
Collecting samples for lab work
Help patients eat
In some states, LPNs with the proper training can provide medication and start intravenous (IV) drips, but in other states, they can’t. In addition, depending on state regulations, some can only perform specific tasks if they’ve been instructed to by an RN.
Where Do LPNs Work?
Licensed Practical Nurses are in demand to work in various settings, so when looking for a job, you can decide if you want to work in a particular environment or with a certain kind of patient.
Nursing homes: The majority of LPNs work in nursing homes. It’s a physically demanding job, but the opportunity to develop relationships with patients can make it particularly rewarding.
Hospitals: Hospitals are the second most common place for LPNs to work. You might be able to try out different areas, such as inpatient, outpatient, or surgery, to see which one is a good fit.
Government facility: Places like prisons or military bases need LPNs to assist clinical staff with treating patients. They often have good benefits packages but don’t offer much opportunity for growth in the field.
School: In a school setting, LPNs work with school nurses to treat children. Most of the time, you’ll be dealing with minor injuries. However, you may also have to deal with cases of abuse, which can be difficult.
Physician’s office: Since working in a physician’s office tends to be more structured, balancing your work and personal life may be more manageable. You may treat many different types of people and have various experiences, but there may not be much room for professional growth.
Hospice: Working as an LPN in a hospice can be highly rewarding but emotionally strenuous. Hospice patients have less than six months to live, and the care includes spiritual and psychological elements, so high levels of empathy and resilience are essential.
Clinic: A clinic is a busy work setting for an LPN. There’s a high turnover rate for patients who need care and compassion. Some clinics can offer financial aid for continuing education.
Home healthcare: The need for LPNs for home healthcare is rising. LPNs take direction from an RN and perform duties such as administering medication, changing bandages, and helping patients complete their daily tasks.
Insurance company: Working at an insurance company, an LPN doesn’t work directly with patients. Instead, they help with reviewing claims and processing cases. You can do the job at home, and since software is involved, you have to be comfortable with technology to do this job well.
Traveling LPN: Traveling LPNs often do short-term jobs when there are nursing shortages. There isn’t as much opportunity to build relationships with patients, but it’s a great way to gain experience living in different areas of the country.
What is it Like to Be an LPN?
What it’s like to be an LPN depends on what type of facility you work in and what duties your state allows you to do. Typically, the day starts with getting an update from the RN you report to so they can give you your schedule for the day and tell you if there is anything of note you should know.
You will complete clinical, administrative, and supportive tasks and report issues to the RN throughout your day. The work as a licensed practical nurse is gratifying, as you are an essential part of patient recovery, physically and emotionally. However, it can be emotionally draining, so this job isn’t for everyone. However, if you build resilience and remember to practice self-care, it can be a rewarding career.
Recommended Reading - How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
How Much Do LPNs Make?
The salary of an LPN varies from state to state, with the higher-paying jobs typically along the west coast. The national average is $24.57 an hour or $51,097.65 a year. The pay range across the country for an LPN is $18.17 to $29.65 an hour or $37,790 to $61,680 a year.
Recommended Reading - How Much Do LPNs or LVNs Make in The USA?
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Career as an LPN
As with any other career path, being a Licensed Practical Nurse has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of choosing a career as an LPN.
Here are some of the benefits of being an LPN:
You make a difference in people's lives.
It’s a fulfilling career choice.
The training is short.
Earning a steady and stable income with benefits.
You can advance to an RN with online options available.
There are opportunities to work in many different places.
You can choose to have a flexible schedule
Disadvantages of Choosing a Career as an LPN
Here are some of the disadvantages of working as an LPN:
You don’t make as much money as an RN.
You may not be as respected as an RN.
You’re limited in what you can do for patients.
You might have rigid hours and have to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
It’s a physically and emotionally demanding job.
You may have to work with complex patients sometimes.
How to Become an LPN
To become an LPN, specific educational requirements and certifications you’ll need. First, you need a high school diploma or equivalent. Then you’ll need to complete an accredited practical nursing certificate program. You’ll learn things like nursing, pharmacology, and biology in the course. You’ll also receive clinical experience. Upon completion of the course, you’ll receive a certification, but to become fully licensed, you’ll also need to pass the National Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Once you pass the exam, you’ll be a fully Licensed Practical Nurse.
Recommended Reading - How Long Is Nursing School in The USA?
How Long Does it Take to Become an LPN?
If you already have a high school diploma or equivalent, becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse doesn’t take long. Most training courses take about a year, and from there, it only takes as long as it takes to book and complete the NCLEX-PN.
LPN Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Difference Between an RN and an LPN?
What is the difference between an RN and LPN? Registered nurses (RN) provide direct care to patients, while Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) typically assist doctors or registered nurses. Licensure as a registered nurse comes after graduation from a 4-year undergraduate nursing program and successful completion of the NCLEX-RN.
What is The Role of The LPN?
The primary function of an LPN is to provide routine care for sick, injured, or disabled patients. In addition, LPNs coordinate with and assist physicians and registered nurses (RNs). The most common duties that LPNs perform involve Monitoring patients, such as charting vital signs.
What Can an RN Do That an LPN Cannot?
Including all LPN duties, some additional skillsets for an RN include: Administer and monitoring patient medications (including IV), Performing and leading an emergency response using BLS (Basic Life Support), ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
Can an LPN Call Themselves a Nurse?
Yes. An LPN means a Licensed Practical Nurse. An RN is a registered nurse and requires more education.