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What Is a Licensed Practical Nurse and How to Become One

What Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do?

As a Licensed Practical Nurse or LPN, you’ll provide basic hands-on patient care. Your duties and responsibilities will likely include monitoring your patients’ vital signs, changing dressings, administering injections, providing food and medication, and informing your medical team about patient requests or changes in condition. You might also be asked to help with diagnostic tests and procedures. Your career can take place in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, correctional institutions, rehabilitation centers, home healthcare environments, and military bases. The Licensed Practical Nurse position is considered an entry-level nursing career. You’ll generally report to Physicians or Registered Nurses.

How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

The education necessary for a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) includes coursework similar to that of a Registered Nurse but on a reduced scale with less time and cost required. The first step to becoming an LPN to complete an accredited training program, which is usually offered by community colleges and vocational schools. This will take about 12 to 14 months and can begin as soon as you graduate from high school. The curriculum will include classes in biology, pharmacology and nursing. Once you have graduated from the program, you must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description Sample

With this Licensed Practical Nurse job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Licensed Practical Nurse role.

Job Summary

We are seeking a highly-skilled and experienced Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to join our growing healthcare team. Under the supervision of the head nurse, you will care for excellent care for patients and tend to their general comfort and well-being. Job duties include taking vital signs, changing bandages, administering medications, and monitoring the patient’s behavior for notable changes. Our ideal candidate has a compassionate attitude coupled with an impeccable bedside manner, as well as an ability to work in a fast-past environment.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Collect, track, and maintain patient history; record any new data
  • Take vitals, including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature
  • Administer medication; monitor medication doses and patient response
  • Change bandages, dressings, and feeding tubes as needed; insert and change catheters
  • Assist patients with personal hygiene
  • Help patients who need assistance eating and drinking
  • Collect specimens; deliver them to proper department
  • Set-up intravenous (IV) drip if state-certification allows
  • Provide emotional support to patients and patients' families; listen to concerns and feedback
  • Report any unusual or drastic changes in patient behavior or symptoms; seek help when needed
  • Ensure rooms are kept clean and sterile

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Completed state-approved LPN education program
  • Current LPN license to practice
  • Valid CPR certification
  • Previous clinical or healthcare experience
  • Strong knowledge of Microsoft Suite; adept at data entry
  • Willing to work long, physically demanding hours
  • Understanding of healthcare state standards and procedures
  • High level of patience, empathy, and compassion
  • Excellent observation skills with high attention to detail
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills