By Karen P Williams
An LPN, or licensed practical nurse, works under the direction of a physician or registered nurse and care for patients that are ill, injured, disabled or convalescing. An LPN often provides basic bedside care as well as taking vital signs, prepares and administer injections, deliver enemas, dress wounds, change bandages and monitor catheters. LPN’s also keep patients comfortable, assist the patient with bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, getting in and out of bed and walking. Experienced LPN’s may also serve in a supervisory capacity and oversee nursing assistants and aides.
LPN candidates must possess a high school diploma or a GED and complete a program approved by the state in which you reside to be eligible for licensing. Check with the nursing license board in your state or commonwealth or the Office of Health and Human Services for a list of approved programs. LPN programs are often found at technical and vocational schools and community and junior colleges. LPN candidates, upon successful completion of the LPN program, must pass the NCLEX-PN exam, which is a National exam. Some states require an LPN candidate to complete and pass a criminal background check, in addition to schooling and licensing. 23 States participate in the National Licensure Compact. These 23 member states have agreed to accept out of state license transfers. If you wish to transfer your license to a state that is not a member of the Compact, you may be able to apply for endorsement by contacting the nursing license board or the Office of Health and Human Services and requesting an endorsement application. Upon licensing, your license will be subject to renewal periodically, and you will be required to take a specified number of contact hours relative to nursing.
Although states may differ on the exact LPN program, the following elements are contained in most programs. The program is at least forty weeks. Those forty weeks are made up of 945 hours of theoretical classroom training and 540 hours of clinical work. The classroom elements include psychology, chemistry, and pharmacology, and geriatric nursing care, pediatric, maternity and general nursing practice.
In addition to classroom work, the program will provide training in a real clinical setting such as a hospital, nursing home or other medical facility. The students work under the supervision of a nurse educator and sometimes a staff registered nurse or nursing administrator. The training also helps prepare the student for the national license exam.
Most educational facilities will help graduates find employment. Studies show that employment of LPN’s is expected to rise by twenty one percent between 2008 and 2018. This is partly in response to the long term care needs of the elderly population and the general demand of health care services for those of advanced maturity.
If you decide to further your career and become a Registered Nurse, or RN, most nursing schools have LPN to RN or LPN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing) programs. You will receive credit for courses already taken and credit for practical experience gained through working as an LPN.
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