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Career Facts for Licensed Practical Nursing

Nature of Work

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), care for the sick, injured, convalescing, and handicapped, under the direction of registered nurses or physicians. (The work of registered nurses is described below.)

Most LPNs provide basic bedside care. They take vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They also prepare and give injections, apply dressings, and insert catheters. LPNs observe patients and report adverse reactions to medications or treatments. They may collect samples from patients for testing and perform routine laboratory tests. They help patients with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene, feed them and record food and liquid intake and output, provide comfort measures, and care for their emotional needs. In states where the law allows, they may administer prescribed medicines or start intravenous fluids. Some LPNs help deliver, care for, and feed infants. Some experienced LPNs supervise nursing assistants and aides.

LPNs in nursing homes, in addition to providing routine bedside care, may also help evaluate residents' needs, develop care plans, and supervise nursing aides. In doctors' offices and clinics, including health maintenance organizations, they may also make appointments, keep records, and perform other clerical duties. LPNs who work in home health may also prepare meals and teach family members simple nursing tasks.

Employment Prospects

Job prospects for LPNs are expected to remain very good, as employment in health care grows much faster than it has in the past. Because of this growth, the number of new graduates needed will be well above the number graduated in recent years. Nursing homes will offer the most new jobs for LPNs.

Skills You Need

LPNs should have a caring, sympathetic nature. They should be emotionally stable because work with the sick and injured can be stressful. As part of a health care team, they must be able to follow orders and work under close supervision. One must possess scientific knowledge, interpersonal skills, and a high energy level to succeed in nursing. The ability to communicate and interact effectively with people is essential. Nursing also requires manual dexterity to deal with the technical demands in the profession. Managerial and critical thinking skills are vital for effective organization, problem solving, and coordination.

Expected Earnings

Median annual wages of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were $41,540 in May 2012. The middle 50 percent earned between $34,990 and $48,380. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $57,360. Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in May 2012 were:

Home health care services $43,920
Nursing care facilities 43,570
Continuing care retirement communities and
         assisted living facilities for the elderly
General medical and surgical hospitals 41,330
Offices of physicians 38,980

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LCC Nursing Careers Deparment

Health and Human Services
Health and Human Services Bldg, Room 108
Phone: (517) 483-1410
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