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The responsibilities of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) are varied and numerous. Through continuous monitoring and care, LPNs work to ensure that their patients receive consistent and necessary treatment. Because of the wide range of responsibilities an LPN must take on, the LPN skills checklist allows for the verification of all completed tasks and also serves as a means of assessment.
When evaluating an LPN's skills, it is important to assess the departments with which the nurse is the most familiar. Each department requires different skill sets and work styles. For example, while nurses with experience working in a musculoskeletal department may have developed expertise in treating patients dealing with arthritic disease or amputation, those with gastrointestinal department experience would be more adept at treating bowel disease and liver failure. Other departments where LPNs typically work include obstetrics, gynecology, telemetry, and psychiatry.
Infection Prevention Methods
While hospitals and other medical facilities are designed to help the sick and injured, because of the range of ailments and conditions of patients they are also potential hotbeds of disease. LPNs must be well-versed in all necessary infection prevention methods. LPNs are required to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of universal precautions and must use proper waste disposal and equipment cleaning practices.
Management and Assessment
LPNs also perform crucial management and assessment tasks to ensure that patients are progressing as expected. A general body systems review is a thorough review of the functioning of different systems from the head to the toes of the patient. Depending on the needs of the patient, LPNs may also perform more specialized assessments such as neurological, respiratory, or cardiopulmonary assessments. They are also responsible for managing activities of daily living such as patient bathing and bandaging.
LPNs must also be able to utilize the large range of equipment found in a hospital or other medical facility. This includes a thorough understanding of common tools such as heat lamps and oxygen masks as well as more complicated instruments such as the Pleur Evac chest tube drainage device or the volumetric pump. LPNs are required to know how to use the provided restraints to properly restrain a patient when necessary.
In addition to measuring the performance of specific tasks and activities, an LPN skills checklist can also be used to evaluate skills more generally. Regular evaluations can monitor changes or improvements in skill sets over time, while a single checklist can quickly reveal if an LPN is a specialist or a generalist. LPN skills checklists typically use a range of one to four, with a score of one representing no experience and four representing expert status and the ability to serve as a resource to others. While a score of two signifies the need for further training, three can be selected for all tasks that an LPN can perform independently.
Nina Dubois has been a published writer since 2004. She has written features for the global anti-poverty agency ActionAid International, Stanford University's "The Real News" and a host of other publications. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University where she majored in anthropology and political science.