Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, also known as LPNs and LVNs, deliver basic nursing care to patients in many health care facilities. LPNs and LVNs often work under registered nurses and doctors, and sometimes oversee or direct unlicensed medical staff and other LPNs or LVNs. Despite the two different acronyms, LPNs and LVNs are the same type of nurse. Some states, such as Texas and California, typically refer to basic nurses as LVNs, while most states use LPN.
According to the 2010 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse careers are growing at a faster-than-average rate for all professions, and the numbers above showcase this projected employment growth. The duties of LPNs and LVNs depend on the state in which you are licensed and practice, but they typically do the following tasks:
- Take patients' vital signs, such as temperature, pulse, and blood pressure as well as give injections, monitor catheters, and change bandages
- Assist patients with bathing, dressing, and other personal hygiene needs
- Keep record of health statuses and report any changes to registered nurses and doctors
- Instruct patients on self-care tasks and provide health education to the public
LPNs and LVNs provide some of the same health care services as registered nurses, and they are considered highly valuable members of the medical community. LPNs and LVNs provide basic bedside care and keep day-to-day operations running smoothly with their strong clinical and organizational skills. According to the BLS, the increased demand for qualified LPNs and LVNs is caused by an aging population and the growing need for health care services in a variety of medical settings, such as physicians' offices, nursing homes, hospitals, assisted-living centers, and private homes. As LPNs and LVNs continue to retire, more licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse jobs will need to be filled.
Job Growth for
Licensed Practical Nurse
- Annual Pay National Average
- Hourly Pay National Average
Becoming a Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
All prospective LPNs and LVNs must complete an approved training program and supervised clinical practice, typically resulting in a postsecondary non-degree award or certificate. State-approved training programs last about one year and can be completed at technical schools, community colleges, and sometimes high schools or hospitals. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required for admission to a practical nursing program.
Licensed practical nurse schools have many comprehensive programs that provide formal instruction and hands-on training for practical nurses. While in school, students will take a variety of basic and advanced courses in the physical, behavioral, and social sciences, as well as general nursing courses to develop important patient care skills. All nursing programs include supervised clinical experiences that range from general health and illness to more specialized areas, like maternal/neonatal nursing and pediatrics.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Foundations of Nursing
- Essentials of Medication Administration
Upon completion of a practical nursing program, graduates will prepare to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). State boards of nursing use the standardized examination to determine candidates' eligibility to receive a license and practice as an LPN or LVN. Jobs for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse majors are available in virtually every health care setting, with nursing care facilities employing the most licensed practical and vocational nurses. Continuing education is required for all LPNs and LVNs to sharpen their clinical skills and nursing knowledge, as well as bring them up to speed on the latest medical developments.