A Day in the Life of an LPN

A typical day in the life of an LPN or licensed practical nurse is fast-paced and demanding. In the end, it is also exciting and rewarding. While many LPNs work in hospitals, they can also be found in nursing homes, schools, military installations, factories, private homes and a wide range of other places. Successful licensed practical nurses are intelligent, driven, caring, disciplined and flexible. Physical stamina and energy also come in handy. Although the settings in which licensed practical nurses work vary, most of them work shifts that consist of very similar tasks, duties and responsibilities. Read below to learn more about a day in the life of one of these indispensable medical professionals.

Preparing for a Shift

Most LPNs work eight-hour shifts. However, 12-hour shifts are not unusual. While some people assume that overnight shifts are quieter and less hectic, the reality is that they can be just as demanding as daytime shifts; in fact, they can be even more demanding. Upon arriving at her place of work, a licensed practical nurse’s first order of business is typically to consult with the nurse who handled the previous shift. This consultation helps to bring the licensed practical nurse up to speed. It also allows her to prepare herself mentally for the next eight to twelve hours.

A critical part of preparing for a shift is going over various types of paperwork. Paperwork is an integral part of the daily routine of any licensed practical nurse. Upon arriving at her shift, a nurse will read through doctors’ reports, medical charts and lab tests for the patients that will be under her care during the next handful of hours. She will pay special attention to notes about changes in patients’ conditions. She will use this information to get an idea about which patients will require the most attention.

Making the Rounds

While paperwork serves as an excellent starting point, it doesn’t convey the human side of the work. For that, most LPNs begin their actual shifts by checking on each of their patients. If a patient is awake, the nurse will say hello and ask how he is feeling. Along the way, she will also greet various coworkers. At some point, she will also check in with the registered nurse or attending physician to whom she is required to report. If anything has changed since the latest batch of reports has been generated, she will hear about it at that point.

Assisting with Everyday Needs

Whether she works in a nursing home, a hospital or some other facility, an LPN can expect to assist patients with a wide range of everyday things. Depending on a patient’s needs, she may assist him with everything from bathing to changing. At mealtimes, she may stop and assist those who are unable to feed themselves. These are the tasks that really drive home the personal and caring nature of the job. LPNs must have compassion for their patients or they will be unhappy performing these types of tasks.

Performing Medical Tasks

LPNs perform a wide range of medical tasks for their patients. The specific work that a licensed practical nurse will do for a patient depends on his individual needs. One patient may have a wound that needs to be dressed; the next one may have a catheter that requires monitoring. In most cases, a licensed practical nurse will probably have to collect lab samples from several patients during her shift. She will also have to pass medications to those who require them. No two days – or two hours – are the same when it comes to performing this type of work.

The Importance of Charts

Charts and other types of paperwork consume huge portions of a licensed practical nurse’s day. As doctors make their rounds, orders are updated and changed. LPNs must take care to monitor those changes carefully. This is why there is generally no downtime during a typical shift. When patients’ needs have been accounted for, a licensed practical nurse always has paperwork to read, analyze and complete. Breaks are few and far between. When they do happen, they are very fleeting. This is not a job for someone who likes to take it easy.

Completing a Shift

At the end of her shift, a licensed practical nurse must get things ready for the next nurse. She has to make sure that all patient reports are as up to date as possible. She will typically meet with the next LPN on shift to bring her up to speed about each patient. The goal is to make these transitions as smooth as possible. Patient care always has to be the number-one priority. By the time she clocks out for the day, a licensed practical nurse will have performed a dizzying array of tasks. She will be exhausted, but she will know that she has accomplished a great deal.

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