If you’ve heard plenty about nursing shortages and are seriously considering stepping up to help fill the gap, you know you have some research to do. By now you know that a career in nursing would be a great fit for you, but you’re hesitant to spend the multiple years in school needed to become a registered nurse. You want to be out on the floor making an impact in your life—and patients’ lives—as soon as possible.
What many people new to the nursing field might not know is that there are actually many paths to becoming a nurse. One long-standing, popular track you may have seen is to become an LPN. While that option has caught your interest, you need to learn more about this role before deciding if this is the right route for you. We’re here to help you understand the duties that fall under the LPN job description and what you’ll need to do to become an LPN.
What does LPN stand for?
First off, let’s start with the basics. LPN stands for licensed practical nurse. This is a category of licensed nurse that differs from registered nurses. In some states, you may find this role is referred to as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). While the labels are different, LPNs and LVNs are essentially the same.
What does an LPN do?
Now that you’ve got the name sorted out, you’re probably curious about what an LPN does in their daily work. The LPN job description covers quite a bit, so let’s take a closer look.
At its most basic explanation, LPNs provide routine care for the sick or injured. They work in conjunction with RNs and physicians to adhere to a care plan for each patient. RNs typically have a wider scope of practice—such as interacting with doctors and administering medication through IVs. While the details will depend on the setting they work in, LPNs typically care for several patients over the course of their shift and must manage their time well to ensure patient care plans stay on track.
What are some common LPN duties?
While an LPN’s scope of practice may be smaller than that of a registered nurse, there are still plenty of important nursing duties on their plates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that LPNs are responsible for a range of patient care and administrative tasks, including:
- Monitoring basic patient health such as vital signs and overall condition
- Changing dressings or inserting catheters
- Taking patient histories and maintaining documentation
- Assisting with tests or procedures
- Providing personal care, such as helping with bathing and toileting
- Consulting with RNs on care plans
LPN duties do vary somewhat by state and employer, but you can expect to be providing hands-on patient care regardless of your location or employer.