What is an LVN and what do they do?

What’s an LVN?

LVNs (Licensed Vocational Nurses) are skilled healthcare workers who aid nurses and doctors. LVNs are generally known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in states other than Texas and California. People in this entry-level health care position are responsible for providing basic nursing care under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. This career requires more training than a CNA (Certified Nurses’ Assistant) but less than an RN (Registered Nurse). Responsibilities vary, but include providing basic bedside care, scheduling and confirming appointments, recording patient’s vital signs, updating charts, preparing and giving injections, dressing wounds, giving alcohol rubs and collecting samples. The job also often comprises assisting with routine activities that keep patients comfortable, such as bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene. If patients need help eating, LVNs are generally the ones who assist them. Experienced LVNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides.

Where do LVNs work?

The majority of LVNs work in hospitals, performing routine care that is less complicated than the care administered by registered nurses and doctors. Other common workplaces are private medical practices, nursing homes and surgical centers. Many doctors’ offices actually prefer to hire LVNs in instead of RNs, because LVNs can perform almost all of the duties required of an RN in a small practice but cost less to employ. A smaller percent of LVNS work in home healthcare situations, but this is generally only after they’ve had experience in a more formal setting. Those in home-care positions may or may not live in the home and often prepare meals and teach family members simple nursing tasks. A 40-hour workweek is normal for LVNs but about 20 percent work part time. A nine-to-five, Monday through Friday schedule is fairly uncommon, evening or night work is often required, and working on weekends and holidays is par for the course.

What’s it like to be an LVN?

LVNs are on their feet all day and need to be in good physical condition. Lifting patients or helping them to stand or walk is a normal part of most workdays, so a certain degree of strength and physical fitness is required. Licensed vocational nurses generally work in safe, climate controlled environments, but they do risk harm from infectious diseases, caustic chemicals, radiation exposure, back injury and stress.
LVNs work under supervision and need to be comfortable taking orders. A positive attitude is essential, because patients are often in distress and doctors and nurses can be abrupt when they are in a hurry. Many patients, especially those in nursing homes, crave a human connection and enjoy chatting with their healthcare providers. The best LVNs enjoy helping others, are patient, and are both good conversationalists and good listeners.

What kind of training is required?

Before seeking employment, LVNs need to complete a state-approved training program and be licensed. Most training programs are a year or less in length, and condensed programs are often available. Most LVN classes are offered at city and community colleges, and are widely available due to the current demand for LVNs. Programs of study generally include both supervised clinical practice and classroom based study. Applicants to LVN programs must be able to pass a criminal background check; an admissions exam and Anatomy and Physiology or a similar prerequisite are often also required.

Being an LVN is satisfying in itself, but for some it is a stop along the way to becoming an RN. Those who intend to become RNs can gain valuable nursing experience working as an LVN, and often continue to work while attending nursing school part time. Salaries for LVNs vary widely, but generally fall between $28,000 and $45,000 per year. Experiences LVNs can make up to $60,000 annually depending on their location. All jobs in the healthcare industry have a good outlook now, due to our aging population, but LVNs have a particularly rosy future. LVNs are essential to nursing homes and assisted living communities, and in the coming years increasing numbers of LVNs will be required. Anyone who isn’t squeamish, enjoys working with people and would like a stable, satisfying career with a bright future should consider working as an LVN. With training programs of less than a year, it’s a quick road from beginner to trained healthcare professional.



To Learn More about a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse, please visit http://www.http://licensed-practical-nurse.net