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LPN Education, Skills, and Salary

Updated on June 18, 2013

These days we are all looking for a career niche that will get us beyond a mere job and onto something more meaningful. A career in the medical profession is highly desirable and the income one can earn is especially desirable. An individual that learns well in an LPN program, whether at a community college or a vocational school, will live decently on an lpn salary.

Career Outlook

According to government data on education and job outlook, this medical profession will enjoy a 21% increase between 2008 and 2018. The reason for this is that as the population ages there will be more need for doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. Unlike the education to become a doctor that takes several years, a person can learn to become an LPN in a nursing program that lasts a year. Once graduated, the person will take exams to satisfy the licensing requirements.

Requirements to become an LPN

An individual who wishes to study to become an LPN (or in the states of CA and TX an LVN) he or she will first need either a high school diploma or at least a General Education Diploma (GED). They can then enroll in a nursing program to learn the skills and knowledge required to perform their duties.

The classes offered in most LPN programs include:

  • Anatomy
  • Lifespan development
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Psychology

In addition to these classes a student can learn Pediatric Nursing, Surgical Nursing, and disease prevention. Once they complete their educational program and satisfactorily graduate they will need to take the National Council Licensure-Practical Nurse exam (NCLEX-PN). They may also need to take and pass an additional exam as required by different states.

The NCLEX-PN covers 4 major knowledge areas:

  • Promoting and maintaining health
  • Health care environments
  • Psychology
  • Physiology

Where will your career take you?

Although most people think of hospitals and doctor’s office when they think of nursing there are other locations that use the services of LPNs and pay them a handsome lpn Salary, which averages $49,000 annually. However, the more specialized the skills one has and the more experience one has the better the income.

The duties of an LPN varies with the location, but in general the duties of an LPN include:

  • Administration of IV meds
  • Assist patients with personal hygiene
  • Collection of fluid samples
  • Dress wounds
  • Maintain patients records
  • Measure vital signs
  • Observe patients reactions to treatments and medications
  • Teach families how to care for their sick or injured family members

These duties will be performed with some regularity, but the days will vary enough that an LPN is seldom bored with their job. Although some nurses work “banker’s” hours, others do work overnight shifts and weekends. The locations for working as an LPN vary as well and offer their own rewards:

  • Long-term care facilities with older patients or patients with severe illnesses. LPNs at these facilities often supervise nursing assistants and orderlies.
  • In-home care with mentally or physically disabled persons or older patients who prefer to remain at home.
  • Outpatient care facilities
  • Clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Government agencies.

What other skills will you need?

Medical knowledge and ability is the main point of your career but you will need to acquire other equally important skills for your daily duties. You will also need to be aware of your physical ability to perform your duties.

Often patients need help getting in and out of wheelchairs or getting onto a gurney. You should be able to comfortably lift at least 50 lbs. without too much difficulty. You will be on your feet for hours a day moving from patient to patient and office to office. You should be able to handle this without suffering feet, leg and back discomfort so do be sure to get some comfortable shoes that provide support for your feet and back.

Your day to day tasks will require careful attention to detail and regular documentation of tasks performed and observations of patient’s responses to treatments. To aid in your duties you will need to become comfortable with computer programs such as MS Outlook for communicating with other members of the care team, MS word for documentation of observations, and Excel for entering data essential for the patient’s care plan.

You will need to learn proper spelling, grammar and punctuation for your documentation because a change of words or wrong punctuation can affect the patient’s care plan in sometimes unexpected ways that can obstruct effective treatment.

You should have a personal makeup that can deal with patient’s complaints and issues with pain. A good bedside manner will definitely help you perform your duties. In your day to day activities you will have more direct contact with patients. When they speak to you about their cares and concerns you will effectively be their voices when you report to the doctor your observations.

It is true that LPNs seldom specialize in a particular area of medicine line RNs do, but in a way they do have a specialty that both RNs and Doctors rely on in their care plans. You collect important data and make significant observations about the patient so that the RN and Doctor can create a treatment plan that will help the patient recover. These duties are just as important as the dosage of medication given and procedures performed. Without the LPN the doctor may be blind to how the patient is feeling and the RN, who will have less contact with the patient than you do, will not be able to help the doctor as much, either.

The number of jobs available for LPNs will increase over the next 20 years as the population continues to age. Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other facilities will grow and more facilities will be built to accommodate that population. While most medical careers may take years to acquire, a person seeking to become an LPN can get an education in a year and then get started on the road to a new career with patients who need their skills.

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