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List of Skills Needed in Practical Nursing

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Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses -- titles differ by state although the education and licensing requirements are the same -- need a number of skills to perform their jobs. All licensed practical nurses must be able to read and comprehend what they read, for example, but LPNs also need specific skills, such as those related to giving a patient a bed bath.

Communications and Time Management

O*NET Online identifies a number of basic skills for LPNs. Among these are communications skills, which include active listening, and the ability to convey information effectively through speech or in writing. LPNs also need time management skills and must be able to coordinate their work by adjusting their actions in relation to the actions of others. An LPN who is working with a physical therapist, for example, may need to reschedule the patient’s bath or dressing change to prevent her from becoming overly tired. She must communicate with both patient and physical therapist about the change and the rationale for the change.

Cognitive Skills

Some LPN skills are cognitive, according to O*NET, such as the ability to monitor and assess not only your own, but other people’s performances and to take action if necessary. Critical thinking -- the ability to use logic and reasoning to evaluate and select an approach to a problem -- is another necessary cognitive skill for LPNs. LPNs should also be able to evaluate the potential costs and benefits of an action and make the most appropriate choice. Other cognitive skills include inductive and deductive reasoning, problem sensitivity -- knowing when something might go wrong -- and the ability to arrange things or actions in a pattern according to a set of rules.

People Skills

Since LPNs spend most of their day working with patients and other health professionals, interpersonal skills are very important, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. LPNs may also work with patients of any age, and should be able to build rapport with a small child as well as an older woman. Interpersonal sensitivity is another necessary skill, and is related to what O*NET Online calls social perceptiveness -- the awareness of other people’s reactions and understanding why they act as they do in certain situations.

Clinical and Technical Skills

Finally, LPNs must have good clinical and technical skills, according to the Commonwealth of Virginia's Employment and Resource Center. Clinical skills include the ability to assess a patient and identify actual or potential problems based on indicators such as blood pressure, pulse or skin color. Technical skills encompass many basic nursing activities, such as bed baths, dressing changes and safe medication administration. Other technical skills include operating complex equipment or performing tasks such as starting an intravenous line, inserting a urinary catheter or injecting medications with different injection techniques.

2016 Salary Information for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earned a median annual salary of $44,090 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $37,040, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $51,220, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 724,500 people were employed in the U.S. as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.


About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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