LPNs, or Licensed Practical Nurses, are an integral part of the healthcare system. While the position may not seem as glamorous as that of a physician or registered nurse, it's often the LPN that develops the sincerest and most caring relationship with the patient. That's because the LPN is the one that offers comforting bedside manner, and they're the first ones to answer the call when the patient needs help. Theyíre the unsung heroes of the hospital, working in the trenches to make sure the doctors have all the information they need to treat patients and cure diseases. But what does a LPN do? And what does it take to become one?
Think about the last time you made a visit to the doctorís office, or had the unfortunate experience of being hospitalized. The very first thing that happened to you was someone came in and took all of your vital signs. They checked your weight, your height, and measured it against what those numbers were during your last visit. They checked your pulse and your blood pressure. They asked you a bunch of different questions like ìwhen was your last medical checkup?î Or, ìwhat symptoms are you feeling?
That person was a LPN. They measure and record the data needed by the doctor in order for them to properly do their job. But thatís just one aspect of a LPNís job. They also collect samples, monitor and maintain medical equipment, and in some cases assist the doctor or registered nurse with administering aid. The LPN's job can carry over into many aspects of the medical profession depending on what the doctor or registered nurse needs help with. While a LPN may not be able to prescribe medication, they are authorized to administer medication prescribed by a doctor. Theyíre also authorized to administer intravenous fluids, and provide care to patients that are ventilator-dependent. They can administer enemas, catheters and injections as well.
In order to become a LPN in the United States, a person typically has to go through one year of medical training usually offered by vocational schools or community colleges (or even online) and complete a state approved training program. The hiring rate of LPNs is expected to grow by 22% over the course of 2008 through 2018.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the position of LPN is that of a generalist, and they can be hired to work in any area of the medical profession. Some LPNs work in specialist fields, such as home health care or nursing facilities. Many LPNs find their most rewarding work in the maternity ward, helping deliver and caring for newborn babies.
The role of a LPN is a hazardous job. Often they have to work long hours, weekends, and holidays. They risk being exposed to infectious disease, caustic chemicals, and unruly or uncooperative patients. Oftentimes they have to spend hours upon hours standing or walking without a moment to rest. It takes a special kind of person to become a LPN, someone who is strong and caring. Someone who puts others before themselves and does the best job they can simply because itís the right thing to do.