Licensed Practical Nurses (also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses) are nurses who have a technical diploma in nursing. The programs that will allow a person to obtain this degree can usually be completed in one year. LPNs have a very similar or the same role as registered nurses with a few differences in what they are legally able to do. This largely depends on the state’s nurse practice act, setting, and the company the nurse works for.
I am continually baffled at the number of people who do not fully understand the LPN role and their value to the nursing profession. Let’s examine the description of the LPN according to the United States Department of Labor:
“LPNs provide basic nursing care under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. They typically do the following: monitor the patient’s health–for example by taking their blood pressure, administer basic patient care–including changing bandages and inserting catheters, provide comfort for patients–such as helping them bathe or dress, report patients’ status or concerns to registered nurses or doctors, and keep records on patients’ health.”
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, LPN/LVN jobs are in high demand and are expected to grow by 16% through the year 2024 as a result of our aging population. They will be needed most in long-term care facilities and in home health. The median salary for a LPN/LVN is approximately $44,000 annually with a range of $32,000 to $60,000 annually.
With a career that is in high demand, that is one of the quickest educational degrees to obtain, and with an earning potential that could reach well above the U.S. national average salary, it is easy to see why the LPN could be the perfect career for anyone looking to get into the nursing field.
LPNs are not the same as Medical Assistants (MAs)
Yes it is true that medical assistants often do the exact same job and can work in some of the same settings as LPNs. Medical Assistants however are not nurses and do not hold a license. MAs also do not have the opportunities to continue their education in nursing that LPNs do.
LPNs are not “beneath” RNs
The difference in the education of an RN vs a LPN can be as little as two semesters. If a person has an ultimate goal to become an RN, there are many programs that will allow for continuation to complete an associate degree in nursing and become licensed as a registered nurse.
Starting out as an LPN can be a perfect stepping stone
For the person that wants to enter the workforce quickly and get into nursing right away, the LPN degree is a perfect choice. It will introduce him/her to the nursing profession and provide the experience that will ultimately help with getting accepted into an RN program.
If you have ever considered nursing but aren’t sure where to start, I strongly encourage you to consider a LPN degree. These programs are much less competitive than RN programs and can be just what you need to get your foot in the door to an awesome career as a nurse!
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About the Author
Hi I’m Salimah Jones, I am a Family Nurse Practitioner, author, and Founder of The Nursing Guide, an online community dedicated to helping aspiring and current nurses overcome life’s challenges to achieve their professional goals. Coming from a disadvantaged background, and having experienced the struggles of pursuing a career while working and raising a family, I am now dedicated to helping others find ways to make their dreams a reality. I provide practical solutions to help those who are struggling with finances, learning difficulties, motivation, work-life-balance, or lack of a social support system. I want to show you how to conquer any challenge so that you can become your own success story. Please subscribe to this blog and don’t forget to sign up for your free membership on The Nursing Guide Website. Connect with me on twitter @salimahjones.