Licensed Practical Nurse Career Guide

Overview and Job Duties

Nursing is one of the most vital and chronically short-staffed careers available. People will always get sick or injured and need professional care, which means nurses will always be in high demand. Just as doctors and specialists of every area play vital roles by offering their services to people who have different diseases and disorders, licensed practical nurses provide additional care and support to their patients. If you enjoy helping others and like the job security that comes with being in a high-demand field, continue reading this career guide to learn how to become a successful professional.

Licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, have multiple responsibilities, making them some of the most dedicated employees in the field of healthcare. Working under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses (RNs), they follow a strict set of procedures to collect patients’ health information for treatment in order to better help doctors diagnose and treat their patients.If necessary, they prepare required injections for patients.

Other duties include routine health monitoring such as checking blood pressure and glucose levels in diabetic patients, basic nursing care like changing bandages and inserting catheters, bathing and dressing patients who are unable to do so themselves, discuss patients’ healthcare and address any questions or concerns, and reporting on patients’ status to other healthcare professionals overseeing the case, such as the patient’s doctor and registered nurses. Depending on training and specific state regulations, LPNs might administer medication or start intravenous drips in patients, with or without the direct supervision of a registered nurse.

With experience and additional education, LPNs can move into more specific areas like gerontology or IV therapy, or move on to become registered nurses.

No matter what path is taken, LPNs, like anyone in the healthcare field, must be tactful, caring, and intelligent so that they can treat their patients with respect and sympathy. They should also be able to withstand long hours of work with few breaks while still providing the highest quality care.

Job Outlook

LPNs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, care facilities, retirement and nursing homes, home healthcare agencies, and other healthcare facilities. In May 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 729,140 people were employed in the United States as LPNs, with the highest number of them (215,270) working in private and public clinics. This has been made possible by advancements in medical technology; where before people had to go have procedures performed in a hospital, they can now have the same quality of care in a more informal setting.


In 2012, the average yearly salary for a licensed practical nurse was $46,000 (

Education Requirements

To become an LPN, the first step is to complete a formal nursing degree from an accredited institute such as a community college or technical school. These degree programs typically take about a year to complete and include courses like pharmacology, biology, and nursing. Students will also undergo clinical training during the course of their education in order to gain practical experience in a working environment. Finally, after graduation one must be certified by passing the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN.

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