Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) have an important role in health care industry. An LPN is trained and authorized to assist and work under physicians and registered nurses. In the hectic world of medicine, their helping hands assist to make sure hospitals maintain high levels of efficiency. The demand for LPNs in the United States is increasing despite the more than 700,000 LPNs already in the workforce.
A licensed practical nurse has a wide variety of functions. Aside from supervising nursing assistants, an LPN is trained to give patients a wide variety of medications. LPNs are often in charge of prepping patients and inserting IVs. They also play a major part in maintaining the health of patients that are in hospitals. An LPN will often measure a patient's vital signs and collect fluid samples. All of these functions are very important, for they allow doctors and nurses to perform with sound data and to work within a well-organized system.
Various counterparts to the LPN exist in the field. A licensed vocational nurse is similar to an LPN, although they are licensed to work in Texas and California. A registered practical nurse is the Canadian equivalent to the LPN. New Zealand and Australia have enrolled nurses while the UK has state enrolled nurses. All of these various types of licensed nurse are trained at the collegiate level.
LPNs are very educated. Each LPN must graduate high school, pass the requirements of the State Boards of Nursing and complete a college-based practical nursing program. While in nursing school, LPNs learn a wide-array of skills, from measuring a patient's heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure to performing a urinalysis and learning how to help a patient in pain management. LPNs also have skills in record keeping, measuring and proper decision-making.
Becoming a licensed practical nurse is not for everyone. LPNs have to be able to work long and strenuous schedules, oftentimes starting very early in the morning. A licensed practical nurse has to have a strong immune system and a high tolerance for working with blood and other bodily fluids. LPNs should enjoy helping those in need and be willing to dedicate themselves toward helping others.
One of the perks of becoming a licensed practical nurse is the steady income. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average annual salary of an LPN in 2006 was $36,550. The top ten percent of LPNs earn an average of $50,480 a year. Another benefit of becoming an LPN is the almost certain guarantee of finding employment. The health care industry is growing at a rapid pace and is in great need of licensed practical nurses.