What Does an LPN Do?

What Does an LPN Do?
Home caregiver helping senior woman walking at home

LPNs are often the first point of contact for family members of patients and are responsible for explaining procedures and care programs.

An LPN or LVN is a type of nurse that is responsible for providing patients with essential care. This includes helping them to eat, dress, bathe, etc. They assist Registered Nurses (RNs) and Doctors in keeping detailed records, maintaining clear communication between the entire care team and working with patients and their families to understand procedures and how to care for sick relatives.

While many nurses spend their entire careers working as an LPN, this position is also a great stepping stone to furthering your education and enjoying a pay increase by becoming an RN or Nurse Practitioner (NP).

Education and Training

In order to receive an LPN license, these nurses must complete a one-year training program, which involves a combination of classroom courses on biology, pharmacology, and nursing and supervised clinical experience. These programs are most frequently available through technical or community colleges, but some areas hospitals and high schools also offer them.

At the end of their education, LPNs take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Passing this exam grants LPNs their license and allows them to begin working in their field.

Many LPNs go on to complete further education. LPNs may get specific certifications to work in certain fields, such as IV therapy or neonatal care. They may also get further medical education to become an RN.

What do LPNs do?

LPNs work closely with registered nurses (RNs) and physicians to provide patients with basic nursing care. Typical duties might include:

  • Monitoring patients
  • Taking patient vital signs and histories
  • Performing routine assessments, such as checking blood pressure
  • Changing bandages
  • Inserting IVs or catheters
  • Listening to patients’ concerns and reporting back to RNs and doctors
  • Ensuring patients are comfortable
  • Helping patients bathe or dress

An LPN’s duties can vary slightly depending on the healthcare setting and the state in which they work. For example, some states do not permit LPNs to administer medication or start IV drips. In other states, experienced LPNs are able to supervise and manage less-experienced nurses or nursing aides, according to the BLS.

LPNs can also work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices and urgent care clinics. Due to an aging population, there is a growing need for LPNs in long-term care, such as rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers and hospice. Most LPNs work in nursing and residential care facilities.

Launch your LPN career

So what does an LPN do, exactly? You now know all about the critical role they play as members of a patient care team. They tend to patients in a wide variety of healthcare settings and have several specializations to pursue throughout their careers. So whether you are excited about the LPN job description or you want to test the nursing waters before becoming an RN, know that there are many advantages to being an LPN.

You can fulfill your dream of helping others and be prepared for a rewarding nursing career in as few as 12 months, so what are you waiting for? 1 If you’re ready to learn more about the next steps you’ll take toward a nursing career, sign up for a Nursing Information Session today!

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed November 2020]. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htmInformation represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2 Time to completion is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in July 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2021.

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