What is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)?
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a member of the medical profession that does their duties taking care of patients while under the management of registered nurses or doctors.
The LPN does what is considered essential care, which means they help patients to eat, dress, walk, take a bath, comb their hair, etc. They may also give them their medicines, take their temperature or other vital signs, and do other similar duties.
They cannot do things like assist in surgery or help with anesthesia, but they are very vital in doing many common medical and personal things for patients and assisting the doctors and nurses do other functions. LPNs can work in places like hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities or private homes.
What Do LPNs Do?
LPNs take care of a variety of duties depending on their work setting and location. Typically, they do the following:
- Keep detailed, accurate records on patients' health
- Monitor the health of patients by taking blood pressure and checking other vital signs
- Report the status of patients to doctors and registered nurses
- Help patients with basic care and personal hygiene activities, like dressing or bathing
- Administer basic nursing care, such as inserting catheters, changing bandages or administering intravenous medications
- Discuss health care with patients, explain procedures and listen to their concerns
- Teaching families and caregivers how to care for injured or sick relatives
Where do LPNs work?
LPNs work in a variety of settings. In 2010, 29 percent of LPNS worked in nursing care facilities, 15 percent worked in hospitals offering general medical and surgical care, and 12 percent worked in physicians' offices. The remaining LPNs worked in community care facilities for elderly patients or in home health care services.
How do LPNs become licensed?
All LPNs must complete an accredited program, commonly taught in community colleges and technical schools. Some high schools and hospitals also offer nursing programs. During school, future LPNs learn about subjects like pharmacology, nursing and biology and complete supervised clinical training.
Following the completion of an accredited program, students may sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Passing the exam is necessary to become an LPN in the United States.
What qualities do successful LPNs have?
- Compassion - LPNs must be caring and empathetic toward their patients.
- Stamina - Many LPNs work long hours and perform physical tasks.
- Detail Oriented - To ensure that patients receive the right care when they need it, LPNs must have a keen attention to detail.
- Speaking Skills - Communication is an important skill for LPNs. They must communicate well with both patients and others in the medical field.
- Interpersonal Skills - Interacting with healthcare specialists and patients is a large part of an LPN's job.
- Patients - LPNs with this characteristic are more successful because they can cope with sick and injured people better.
In short, LPNs are a vital component of the healthcare system. They provide basic care and assistance of injured, sick and disabled patients in a variety of settings and offer support for other medical professionals and caregivers.
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