An LPN is a Licensed Practical Nurse. Carrying this credential means that you have been trained to provide patient care at a certain level in a variety of settings. Hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospice, and home health agencies all use LPN’s to perform their patient services and care.
In Hospitals, LPN’s do a large portion of the direct patient care.
Although hospitals do not often employ LPN’s in supervisory positions, their role is still vital. LPN’s offer hospitals a way to give a high level of care for a significantly lower cost than Registered Nurse (RN) salaries. Depending on the rules of the specific hospital, LPN’s can change dressing, give most or all medications, and give some direction to the nurses aides.
LPN’s in long-term care can have some of their duties expanded.
Most states only require long-term care facilities to have an RN on site for one shift per day. In assisted living facilities only an “on call” RN is mandatory. This gives LPN’s an opportunity to become supervisors. In these settings, the LPN may be the charge nurse or a shift supervisor. An LPN can become the director or manger in the assisted living environment. Some long-term care facilities restrict LPN’s from starting an intravenous fluid or medication flow. Certain injectable medications may also be restricted from administration by an LPN.
In home health and hospice care, LPN’s can find jobs with lots of flexibility.
These types of agencies do the vast majority of their work outside of a fixed office. It is up to the LPN to schedule visits. During the visits, it will be the LPN’s responsibility to perform the proper procedures while with the client.
Documentation and charting are a large portion of the LPN’s job.
It is not enough to give good care. Legally, all care needs to be documented or charted. Good records of care are needed so that other caregivers can continue the patient care on following shifts or visits. This documentation can become vital to the defense if a law suit is filed against the nurse, the institution, or the agency.
Educationally, an LPN has to have completed a specialized course of study and pass a state licensing exam.
An LPN program usually lasts about one year. During this time, the nurses are trained regarding direct patient care. The also receive instruction about sterile procedures. Many times, they are trained to draw blood, perform CPR, and other needed techniques. LPN’s also get taught about body system and a limited amount of anatomy.