What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

If you’re thinking of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), you’re not the only one. The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, with endless amounts of careers available within it. The healthcare industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either. We’ve collected all the information you need to know about what a LPN is, what they do, and how to become one.

What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

LPNs help take care of patients in the healthcare community, while under the management of doctors and Registered Nurses. This type of nurse can work in nursing homes, hospitals, or assisted living facilities, among others.

A LPN does for a patient what is considered “essential care.” These nurses help patients get dressed, eat, walk, bathe, etc. They can also give patients their medicines, take vital signs and temperatures, or other similar tasks. LPNs follow a health plan provided by RNs and doctors, performing all the basic duties each patient requires.

LPNs usually are in charge of multiple patients and must keep detailed, accurate records on all of them. They are required to report all of the information they acquire to RNs and doctors. LPNs may also be responsible for educating family members on caring for a patient, explaining procedures, and discussing healthcare plans with the patient.

What Is the Difference Between a LPN and a RN?

A RN’s job is typically more involved than an LPN’s. While a Licensed Practical Nurse takes care of all of a patient’s essential care, the Registered Nurse takes care of all of the patient’s essential health needs. LPNs may administer medication, while only RNs are allowed to administer medication through IVs. RNs may also assist in emergency and surgical situations, whereas LPNs will not.

A RN helps doctors to create a plan of care for each patient and direct that plan to LPNs and all other staff. The LPN’s job is to strictly follow an RN’s plan, to ensure the safety and health of all patients in their care. A LPN’s education program is typically a lot shorter, and less involved than a RN’s. RN programs must not only be nationally accredited, but also state-accredited, as well.

How Do You Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Licensed Practical Nurses “must complete an approved educational program. These programs award a certificate or diploma and typically take about one year to complete, but may take longer.”

These types of programs usually combine classroom learning in areas of biology and nursing, but also include clinical experience and learning as well. LPN programs can be found at technical schools, community college, and even some high schools.

In order to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, you must enter a program that is accredited. After completing the program students may sit for the National Council Licensure Examination. In order to become a LPN in the U.S., passing the exam is absolutely necessary.

Related Resource: What is an Informatics Nurse?

Joining the healthcare industry can be a new, exciting adventure. With so many options, how do you pick the career that’s right for you? Knowing all the necessary information about being a Licensed Practical Nurse can help you decide if this path towards caring for patients is right for you.