LPN Programs, Classes, and Training: A Comprehensive Guide

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What Does LPN Stand For?

LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. These healthcare professionals are licensed by their respective state and provide care to patients, similar to other types of nurses. However, it’s important to note that LPNs differ from RNs (Registered Nurses). While LPNs are licensed to work with patients, their level of education is not as extensive as that of RNs. As a result, their range of duties may not be as extensive either. Additionally, LPNs may not work in all the same settings as RNs, although there is some overlap. LPNs often assist patients with daily tasks and provide supportive care under the supervision of RNs, doctors, or other members of the medical staff.

An LPN is a step below a Registered Nurse. The training and coursework required for LPNs are less demanding than those for RNs, but more extensive than Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training. To embark on the journey of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, one must first be accepted into an LPN program. Unlike pursuing a full RN qualification, there are no prerequisite college courses required for LPN programs. Prospective LPN students simply need to have completed high school, be U.S. citizens, and if English is not their first language, provide passing scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Some programs may also require background checks. The appeal of competitive pay and a shorter training duration make LPN training an attractive option for many individuals.

While some LPNs choose to further their education and become RNs, this requires additional schooling and time. However, many LPNs opt to remain at the LPN level due to the lower level of responsibility and, consequently, lower stress levels. LPNs are responsible for tasks such as administering medication, checking vital signs, managing equipment and instruments, and assisting with meals. All of these duties are performed under the supervision of RNs and other medical professionals. The training received as an LPN can also be applied towards further medical training, making the LPN program a worthwhile endeavor for those with aspirations of advancing their medical career.

Typically, LPN programs take approximately one year to complete. Many programs are offered at community colleges or technical colleges, while online options are also available. It is recommended to start by researching programs in close proximity to one’s location. Upon completing the coursework to become an LPN, individuals must also pass the National Council Licensure Exam, which is required for all LPNs regardless of state-specific requirements. Additionally, clinical hours are usually a mandatory component of LPN programs. Aspiring LPNs must complete an internship or training hours on-site, often without compensation, to gain the necessary experience for future employment. LPN job opportunities can be found in hospitals, private practices, in-home care settings, and various other medical facilities. Hospital or clinic settings typically involve more supervision, while LPNs working in home care may have more autonomy.

Where do LPNs Work?

LPN jobs
LPNs commonly work in nursing homes, hospitals, private care facilities, in-home care settings, and residential care facilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these settings make up approximately 80% of the working environments for LPNs. The remaining 20% includes correctional facilities, treatment centers, and other locations where medical services are required.

Registered Nurses have the opportunity to work in a wider range of settings compared to LPNs, such as surgical rooms and other environments that demand a higher level of education. However, this does not diminish the value that LPNs bring to a medical team. Different levels of education and specialties within nursing allow individuals to pursue paths that align with their interests. Some individuals are naturally drawn to specific nursing paths, while others may prefer alternative options.

Common LPN Tasks

LPNs perform a diverse array of tasks, ranging from patient care to administrative duties. Let’s delve into some of the tasks LPNs commonly undertake when working with patients, as well as the administrative responsibilities they may have.

The specific tasks performed by LPNs may vary depending on the patient population they work with and the setting in which they are employed. For example, LPNs working in hospitals may focus more on wound care due to the high number of surgical or injured patients. On the other hand, LPNs in nursing homes may prioritize assisting patients with daily living skills, as many residents require assistance with self-care rather than acute medical needs. Therefore, it is essential to consider the setting when contemplating the specific tasks and job duties assigned to LPNs.

Common tasks for LPNs include wound care, assisting patients with mobility, taking medical measurements and recording patient data (such as blood pressure and body temperature), and providing support with activities like bedsheet changes, dressing assistance, medication administration (in some states), meal preparation or feeding, and guiding patients to treatment rooms. LPNs also contribute to administrative duties, such as working with computers, managing supply orders, and collaborating with other medical staff to ensure coordinated patient care.