Licensed practical nurses work with doctors and other nurses to help with patient care. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) may also be called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). These nurses may work in a variety of settings, and their duties may vary from state to state.
Licensed practical nurses may work in hospitals or long-term nursing care. There are also licensed practical nurses who work part time in a client’s household; these nurses travel daily and may have more than one client. Many shifts involve overnight or weekend hours, since many patients may need 24-hour care.
Licensed practical or vocational nurses are responsible for many different tasks depending on the location in which they work. They may measure a patient’s vital signs and document any abnormal results. They often collect fluid samples and test them if necessary. They may administer medications through an IV or in pill form. If a patient has a wound, licensed practical nurses clean and dress the wound. They also assist patients with their personal hygiene, either helping them into a bath or shower or providing scrub baths to immobile patients.
In every setting, licensed practical nurses maintain records for patients, charting everything they’ve done for a patient during any particular shift. They may observe and note any adverse reactions to medication. They may also be advised to answer questions for families and advise them on how they may take care of their loved ones.
Licensed practical and vocational nurses must be licensed. The training programs for this position typically are one year long and available at community and vocational colleges. Potential LPNs must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse. Once completed, they will be licensed as an LPN/LVN.
Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse Tasks
- Clean rooms, change linens, and sterilize equipment.
- Review physician orders, lab results and care instructions with patients, answering questions and administering treatment.
- Interview patients and monitor data like weight, blood pressure, and vital signs, documenting results on patient charts.
- Answer patient calls and visits, and provide knowledge and guidance.