Are you interested in becoming a nurse but don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on education? If so, you might want to consider becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). These are entry-level nursing positions that require only a year of training and can offer you a rewarding career in health care. In this article, you will learn what an LPN does, how to become one, how much they earn, and what are the benefits and challenges of this profession.
What is an LPN?
An LPN or an LVN is a type of nurse that provides basic and essential care to patients under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and other medical professionals. They work in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, home health care, and schools. Some of their common duties include:
1.Taking vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration
2.Administering medications, injections, and treatments
3.Changing bandages, dressing wounds, and inserting catheters
4.Collecting blood, urine, and other specimens for testing
5.Monitoring and reporting changes in patients’ conditions
6.Assisting patients with daily activities, such as eating, bathing, and dressing
7.Educating patients and their families about health care issues and procedures
8.Maintaining accurate and complete records and documentation
How to Become an LPN?
To become an LPN, you need to complete a state-approved training program in practical nursing that prepares you to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). These programs can result in a certificate or an associate’s degree and usually take one year of full-time study. They include classroom study and clinical practice under the supervision of hospital staff or nursing instructors. You also need a high school diploma or an equivalent education to enter a practical nursing program.
The NCLEX-PN is a computerized adaptive test that measures your knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide safe and effective nursing care. You need to answer at least 85 questions out of a maximum of 205 within five hours. The test covers four major categories: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. You need to pay a fee of $200 to take the exam and apply for a license in your state.
How Much Does an LPN Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for LPNs and LVNs was $55,860 per year or $26.86 per hour in 2022. However, the salary can vary widely depending on many factors, such as:
Experience: The more years of experience you have, the more likely you are to earn a higher salary. For example, the BLS reports that the lowest 10% of LPNs and LVNs earned less than $40,490, while the highest 10% earned more than $72,650 in 2022.
Location: The salary also depends on the state and the city where you work, as well as the cost of living and the demand for nurses. For example, the BLS reports that the highest-paying states for LPNs and LVNs in 2022 were Alaska ($69,620), Massachusetts ($62,340), California ($62,130), Rhode Island ($61,230), and Nevada ($60,970).
Specialty: The salary can also vary depending on the type of setting and the population you serve. For example, the BLS reports that the highest-paying industries for LPNs and LVNs in 2022 were government ($51,840), nursing and residential care facilities ($50,730), home health care services ($50,040), hospitals ($48,820), and offices of physicians ($46,020)
Certification: The salary can also increase if you have additional certifications or credentials that demonstrate your expertise and competence in a specific area of nursing. For example, some of the common certifications for LPNs and LVNs are IV therapy, wound care, gerontology, pharmacology, and hospice and palliative care.
What are the Benefits and Challenges of Being an LPN?
Being an LPN can offer you many benefits, such as:
Job satisfaction: You can enjoy helping people and making a difference in their lives. You can also build meaningful relationships with your patients, their families, and your colleagues.
Job security: You can have a stable and steady income, as the demand for LPNs and LVNs is expected to grow by 9% from 2022 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. This is due to the aging population, the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, and the need for more health care services in various settings.
Job flexibility: You can have a flexible schedule and work part-time, full-time, or per diem. You can also choose from a variety of settings and specialties, depending on your interests and preferences.
Career advancement: You can have many opportunities to advance your career and increase your salary by pursuing further education, training, and certification. You can also transition to higher-level nursing roles, such as RNs or NPs, by completing bridge programs or earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing.
However, being an LPN can also pose some challenges, such as:
Physical and emotional stress: You can face physical and emotional stress from working long hours, dealing with difficult patients and situations, and witnessing pain and suffering. You can also be exposed to infectious diseases, injuries, and violence.
Legal and ethical issues: You can encounter legal and ethical issues from following the scope of practice, the policies and procedures, and the standards of care in your state and your workplace. You can also face potential lawsuits, complaints, or disciplinary actions if you make mistakes or violate the rules.
Competition and discrimination: You can face competition and discrimination from other nurses, especially RNs, who may have more authority, responsibility, and respect than you. You can also face challenges from other health care professionals, such as doctors, who may not value your contributions or opinions.
Becoming an LPN is one of the fastest and easiest ways to enter the nursing profession. It only requires a year of training and passing a licensing exam. It also offers a decent salary, a high demand, and a rewarding career. However, it also involves some challenges, such as stress, legal issues, and competition. Therefore, you should weigh the pros and cons of this career path and decide if it is right for you.