A licensed practical nurse, or LPN, takes care of patients under the supervision of a registered nurse or medical doctor. Licensed practical nurses often provide basic care such as wound dressing, medication administration and taking vital signs. They also complete paperwork that is kept in the patient's file. Besides working with registered nurses and doctors, licensed practical nurses also work with certified nursing aides, physical and occupational therapists and home health aides.
Licensed practical nurses work in hospitals, doctors' offices, schools and clinics. They are trained to take blood and urine samples, and to prepare patients for surgery. Licensed practical nurses often perform administrative duties, as well. Their job responsibilities vary. Some licensed practical nurses manage doctors' offices, while others work in nursing homes under the direction of a registered nurse.
Licensed practical nurses receive training at vocational schools or hospitals. The programs vary in length. Their training requires them to learn about patient care, health regulations and sometimes business administration. Upon graduating from a licensed practical nursing course, they must still obtain state certification before they are allowed to work in the field. Some licensed practical nurses go back to school to obtain a degree in nursing, which would qualify them to work as a registered nurse.
Licensed practical nurses work indoors in clean and sometimes sterilized environments. Their work is both mental and physical. Licensed practical nurses sometimes help aides in moving and transporting patients, which requires physical strength. They also must understand about medications, plans of care and diseases.
Licensed practical nurses can work full-time or part-time. They often perform shift work, such as in hospitals and nursing homes. Licensed practical nurses sometimes rotate the shifts that they work, which means that they might work on some weekends and holidays.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Tasks
- Take temperatures, dress wounds, record vital signs, collect blood and urine samples and prep patients for examinations, etc.
- May include some clerical work and may work under the supervision of a registered nurse.
- Provide basic medical care helping physicians and registered nurses to focus in more specialized areas in patient care.