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A Career as a Licensed Practical Nurse

Dec 29, 2007
There a few significant points to be kept in mind if you have chosen to be a Licensed Practical Nurse. To begin with, the training period is only a year. Secondly, with a growth in the health care industry some of the best job opportunities are with the home health care services and nurse care facilities. Thirdly, with a large number of nurses leaving the occupation permanently there will be major job openings as replacements.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) are supposed to care for the sick, disabled, injured, and convalescent under the direction of a physician or registered nurse. Basic bedside care like monitoring temperature, measuring blood pressure, pulse and respiration are part of a LPNs job. An LPN also prepares and gives injections and enemas, applies dressings, monitors catheters, treats bedsores and gives alcoholic massages and rubs. Samples for testing are collected by the LPN. They also perform routine laboratory tests.

Feeding the patients and keeping a record of the regular intake and output by a patient is also a part of a LPN's job. In order to keep a patient comfortable and hygienic LPNs also bathe and dress up a patient to keep up personal hygiene. In some states, LPNs are allowed to administer medicines prescribed by the physician or start intravenous fluids. Some LPNs also help in the delivery process and also provide care for as well as feed an infant. With experience a LPN may get the opportunity to supervise nursing aides and assistants.

Apart from providing basic bedside care, LPNs working in nursing care facilities also help to evaluate needs of a resident, develop plans for care of a resident, and supervise the nursing aides and care being provided by them. LPNs who work in clinics and offices of doctors also perform clerical duties like documenting appointments and maintaining records. LPNs working in private home may teach the family members simple tasks of nursing or how to prepare a meal.

All those who aspire to be a LPN are required to complete a practical nursing program approved by the state and then pass a licensing examination known as NCLEX-PN. Usually a high school diploma is mandatory at entry. However, there are a few programs that accept a candidate without a diploma as well. Also there are a few programs that are designed as a part of high school curriculum.

Most of the programs provided for Practical nursing last for around a year and are inclusive of classroom study and clinical practice (patient care). Basic concepts of nursing and subjects related to patient care such as physiology, anatomy, medical-surgical nursing, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatric nursing, nutrition, administration of drugs and first aid are covered during classroom study. Clinical practice is usually provided in a hospital or in similar settings.

In places of employment like nursing homes a LPN can advance to become responsible to oversee the work of nursing aides and other LPNs. LPNs can choose to become registered nurses by attending LPN-to-RN training programs. A LPN is required to have a caring and sympathetic attitude. Emotional stability is also a pre-requisite for a LPN, as she might have to work with irate, agitated, uncooperative, and irrational patients, which can be stressful. Keen observation, good communication skills and decision-making ability are also desired in a LPN. When in a health care team, a LPN should have the ability to follow orders and work while being closely supervised.
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