Work Environments for a Licensed Practical Nurse
People often don't realize it, but licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, are found in more than just hospitals. In fact, while registered nurses (RNs) are most commonly employed by hospitals, LPNs are more likely to work in nursing homes and other community care environments for seniors. If you are thinking about becoming an LPN, it helps to understand where you are likely to find employment. While job prospects vary not only by work environment, but by geography and demographics also, the vast majority of LPNs tend to work in one of five environments. Read on to learn more about them.
LPN Work Environment Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 719,900 LPN jobs in the U.S. in 2014. The majority of these jobs were in nursing or residential care facilities. Indeed, 38 percent of LPNs work in such environments. The next most popular environment is hospitals, with around 17 percent of LPNs working there - less than half of the number that works in senior care. Around 13 percent of LPNs work in doctor's offices and clinics, while another 11 percent or so specialize as home health aides. Finally, around 7 percent of LPNs are employed through the government.
LPNs in Elderly Nursing Care
Far and away, community care for the elderly is the most common work environment for licensed practical nurses. In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, LPNs are typically charged with taking care of both the patient and their environment. This means that they provide direct, basic care to patients, including bathing, feeding, and dressing them. It also means that they typically clean patients' rooms. They may also assist with physical therapy. LPNs also do a lot of good for seniors by simply providing companionship.
The availability of LPN jobs in elderly nursing care is expected to increase by 49.4 percent by 2020.
LPNs in Other Nursing Care Environments
Senior citizens aren't the only people who require long-term care. Therefore, LPNs can also find work in rehabilitation centers, residential treatment centers, facilities for the mentally ill, and hospice facilities. In these environments, LPNs provide much of the same care as they do in nursing homes. However, they are more likely to be tasked with putting together treatment plans for patients and with performing health assessments. In most instances, they are also charged with cleaning patients' rooms. As a result, they tend to be on their feet from the start of their shifts until the end, and much of the work is physical.
The availability of LPN jobs in other nursing care environments is expected to increase by 11.7 percent by 2020.
LPNs in Home Healthcare
Around 11 percent of LPNs are employed in home healthcare as home health aides. The majority of these jobs are provided by private agencies and clinics, but hospitals sometimes have their own version of this service too. In this work environment, LPNs are usually tasked with assisting patients with everyday needs, including bathing and eating. They may also teach basic care to patients' relatives, who must act as caregivers. LPNs who work with patients in their homes also provide companionship and entertainment, allowing people who are often lonely and alone to socialize a little.
The availability of LPN jobs in this work environment is expected to increase by 72.1 percent by 2020.
LPNs in Doctor's Offices
Approximately 13 percent of licensed practical nurses are employed in doctor's offices. In this type of environment, they usually only work with patients on a brief basis. As a result, they are more likely to do things like prepare patients for exams, administer medications that have been pulled by RNs, and administering injections. This type of work doesn't require as much socializing or interaction with patients, as they are typically only going to be there for limited periods of time. Most doctor's offices that employ LPNs provide general medical care. It is far less common for LPNs to be hired by specialty clinics and the like.
The availability of LPN jobs in doctor's offices is expected to increase by 30.8 percent by 2020.
LPNs in Hospitals
Hospitals overwhelmingly hire registered nurses as opposed to LPNs. However, around 17 percent of LPNs work in hospitals, so some jobs are available. If you aspire to someday work as an RN, it would be wise to find work as an LPN in a hospital to test the waters. In this environment, LPNs generally assist RNs and other medical professionals with their daily duties. Oftentimes, this means picking up the slack during shifts when RNs become preoccupied with an influx of patients or the like. In hospitals, LPNs sometimes have to work long shifts, and they may be on their feet for hours at a time.
The availability of LPN jobs in hospitals is expected to increase by around 8.1 percent by the year 2020.
Other Work Environments for LPNs
As mentioned previously, around 7 percent of LPNs work for the government. This means that they most likely work in military installations, correctional facilities, and the like. A fairly small percentage of LPNs also work in public health in some capacity. This refers to environments like schools, health departments, and non-profit organizations. Therefore, this job can take you in many different directions and into many different work environments. Finding an LPN job in public health is not likely to be easy, since so few are available. With more experience, however, these types of jobs are likelier to become available to you.
As you can see, licensed practical nurses can find work in a variety of environments. The vast majority work in healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes, but some find work in the government sector or even in public health, and many work in patients' homes. With so many options, it's easy to see why this is such a popular career.