Licensed Practice/Vocational Nurse

What Does a Licensed Practice/Vocational Nurse Do?
Nurses of all specialties are in high demand as the health care industry rapidly expands. In fact, nursing occupations comprise the biggest sector of health care with approximately 2.6 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure is likely to increase as many nurses retire or advance up the ranks to administrative positions. In addition, the patient population is aging and will begin relying more on medicine and physical therapy. Licensed practice nurses (LPNs), also called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), work at private health care facilities, physician offices, pharmacies, and hospitals under the direction of registered nurses and physicians. They provide basic and routine care for patients, such as recording height and weight, checking blood pressure, and dressing wounds. LPNs are also responsible for collecting samples for testing, monitoring equipment, recording patient reactions to treatments, and conducting the preliminary interview with patients to assess their symptoms before the patient meets with the physician.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Licensed Practice/Vocational Nurse?
Nursing is a demanding but highly rewarding career choice. It is also the largest component of health care and one of the top ten jobs projected to have the most new openings through 2010, according to Mayo Clinicís School of Health Sciences. There will always be a need for health care professionals, particularly nurses, due to the complexity of treating the human body, the unpredictability of disease, and the inevitability of aging. LPNs will continually be needed to perform the basic duties of ensuring patient comfort and providing other fundamental health care services to the rising population. Employment opportunities for LPNs are projected to improve 21 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. LPNs earn an average annual salary of $39,030, according to latest information available from the Bureau. However, most LPNs earn varying salaries depending on where they are employed. For example, the Bureau reports that LPNs working in physician offices earn an average of $35,020, while those working in nursing care facilities earn an average of $40,580.

How Can I Become a Licensed Practice/Vocational Nurse?
Aspiring LPNs must first complete a practical nursing program. This program typically takes about a year to complete and are available from technical schools as well as community and junior colleges. Students take courses in nursing principals, anatomy, pediatrics, and other classes that are designed to increase the studentís knowledge of fundamental patient care. Although an associate degree in nursing is not required, LPNs with an associate degree are more likely to advance to higher positions, such as managing nursing aides and technicians. During the nursing program, students will also take part in supervised clinical work so that they may gain valuable hands-on experience in the field, familiarizing themselves with working alongside professionals in a busy health care setting outside of the classroom. After program completion, LPNs must successfully complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) in order to earn licensure to practice. As the specific prerequisites for licensure vary by state, you should check with your local board of nursing for details.