Licensed Practical Nurse Career Guide

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Licensed practical nursesLicensed practical nurses provide care for patients in several types of health care settings. Many LPNs work in supervisory roles in nursing homes, supervising CNAs who provide personal care for residents. LPNs work under supervision of a registered nurse or a doctor in a hospital and assume responsibilities within their scope practice. LPNs are caring and compassionate healthcare workers who strive to give their patients the best of care for a healthier future.

LPNs work in hospitals, clinics and long-term care settings and perform prescribed patient tasksand ensure an orderly operation of a health care facility or clinic. LPNs work as part of a health care team and are patient advocates who listen to patients concerns and needs. They know how to remain calm in stressful situations and follow medical protocols during emergencies.


Training to become an LPN usually takes about one year. Courses are geared toward the patient across the lifespan from infancy to old age. Programs are offered at selected community and technical colleges. Years ago many hospitals offered LPN diploma programs. Some hospitals may still have LPN programs that train students to become eligible to take the nursing state board exam. Most LPN programs still award a diploma upon graduation. Many people choose to become an LPN as opposed to an RN, since the program of study is shorter and they can start earning a salary much sooner.

LPN Licensing and NCLEX-PN

LPN Licensing is issued upon successfully passing the NCLEX-PN exam. This exam is issued by appointment only and certain steps have to be taken to properly ensure the candidate is prepared and ready to test. Before scheduling an appointment to take the NCLEX-PN, it’s always good practice to review the NCLEX Candidate Bulletin to familiarize yourself with the test as it’s a good idea to find out where your test center is located.

Preparing for the NCLEX exam can be an unnerving experience. To make this time in your life less stressful, have a structured and well thought out plan for taking your test. The first step you have to take is acquiring an authorization to test which is obtained from your board of nursing, then register with Pearson VUE. It’s best to start this process as early as possible, then:

  • Apply for licensure from your state board of nursing
  • Register and pay the required $200.00 fee to Pearson VUE
  • After hearing from the board of nursing or Pearson VUE, schedule to take your exam with Pearson VUE

Job Description and LPN’s Scope of Practice

LPNs perform assessments of patients and administer medications as ordered by physicians. They change dressings and monitor vital signs and report pertinent information to a registered nurse. LPNs work closely with patients in a hospital setting and may provide personal care as part of their duties. LPNs follow a plan of care for patients composed by a registered nurse for the well-being of their patients.

LPNs scope of practice consists of patient teaching, counseling and providing supportive and restorative care under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. An LPN may perform certain medical procedures after receiving training from a registered nurse and as long as a registered nurse is on the premises or immediately available, having the ability to contact the LPN within 30 minute by phone. An LPN must first demonstrate competency in skills to a registered nurse before performing them in a health care facility.

Salary and Job Outlook

LPN jobs are predicted to rise at 22% over all other jobs in the healthcare field by 2020, making this a career that offers job security in today’s challenging economic times.With baby boomers aging and needing more health care, job opportunities for LPNs are on the rise. The median income for a LPN in the United States is approximately $40,300 depending on geographical area and experience.

Taking the Next Step

There are several LPN bridge programs which allows an LPN to study to become an RN and earn an associates, bachelors or master’s degree. An RN performs more advanced medical procedures than an LPN and have to ability to work alone in most situations. LPNs can become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN in as little as one to two years by enrolling in a program offered at a college or university.

Written by

Carrie Cronkite BSN, RN

Carrie has been a registered nurse for 14 years and works at a local hemodialysis outpatient center. She has experience in cardiac nursing, orthopedic rehabilitation and [...]