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Considering Work as a Nurses Aide

Nature of Work

Under the guidance of physicians and registered nurses, Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), care for people who are sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled. The nature of the direction and supervision needed differs by State and job setting.

LPNs attend to patients in a lot of ways. Generally, they extend basic bedside care. A lot of LPNs measure and record patients’ vital signs like height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They also set and administer injections and enemas, monitor catheters, dress wounds, and give alcohol rubs and massages. To help maintain patients comfortable, they service them with bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, moving in bed, standing, and walking. They may also help patients by feeding them if they can’t eat by themselves. Experienced LPNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides. Accomplished LPNs may oversee nursing assistants and aides.

LPNs also collect samples for testing, do routine laboratory tests, and record food and fluid intake and output. Cleaning and monitoring medical equipment is also part of their work. At times they assist physicians and registered nurses do tests and procedures. Some LPNs assists to deliver, care for, and feed infants.

LPNs also keep an eye on their patients and report negative reactions to medications or treatments. LPNs collect information from patients, including their health history and their current condition. They may utilize this data to complete insurance forms, pre-authorizations, and referrals, and they share information with registered nurses and physicians to help find out the best way to care for patient. LPNs usually teach family members how to attend to a relative or teach patients about good health practices.

Nearly all LPNs are generalists and will work in any field of healthcare. On the other hand, some work in a specialized background, such as a nursing home, a doctor’s office, or in home healthcare. In nursing care facilities, LPNs assist to evaluate residents’ needs, develop care plans, and oversee the care given by nursing aides. LPNs in doctor’s offices and clinics may be in charge in making appointments, keeping records, and doing other clerical obligations. Home healthcare LPNs may prepare meals and educate family members some basic nursing tasks. LPNs are allowed - in some States - to administer prescribed medicines, start intravenous fluids, and give care to ventilator-dependent patients.

Work Environment

A lot of licensed practical nurses work a 40-hour week schedule. In some work scenes where patients require 24 hour care, LPNs may have to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Nearly 18 percent of LPNs and LVN’s served part-time in 2008. They often stand for long periods and assist patients move in bed, stand, or walk.

LPNs may confront risks from caustic chemicals, radiation, and infectious diseases. They are exposed to back injuries when transferring patients. They often must handle the stress of burdensome workloads. Furthermore, the patients they take care of may be confused, agitated, or uncooperative.

Training, qualifications, and other advancements.

Education and training. LPNs need to finish a State-approved training program in practical nursing to be fit for licensure. For a list of certified programs you can contact your State’s board of nursing. Nearly all programs are offered from technical and vocational schools or community and junior colleges. Other programs are offered through high schools, hospitals, and colleges and universities. Usually, a high school diploma or its equivalent is required for entry, however some programs admit candidates without a diploma, and some programs are part of a high school syllabus.

Nearly all year-long practical nursing programs involve both classroom study and supervised clinical practice (patient care). Classroom study includes basic nursing concepts and subjects connected to patient care – including anatomy, physiology, pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing, pharmacology, obstetrics nursing, nutrition, and first aid. Generally, clinical practice is in a hospital but sometimes involves other settings.

Licensure. The National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN, is needed in order to acquire licensure as an LPN. The exam is made and conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The NCLEX-PN is a computer-based exam and differs in length. The exam includes four major Client Needs categories: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Qualification for licensure may differ by State. Contact your State’s board of nursing for details.

Other qualifications. LPNs must have a caring, sympathetic character. They must be emotionally stable since working with the sick and injured can be exasperating. They also require to be keen, and to have good decision-making and communication skills. As part of a healthcare team, they must be able to obey orders and work under close supervision.

LPNs should enjoy learning since continuing education credits are demanded by some States and/or employers at regular intervals. Career-long learning is an obvious reality for LPNs.

Advancement. In some employment scenes, such as nursing homes, LPNs can step up to become charge nurses who monitor the work of other LPNs and nursing aides.

LPNs may become certified in specialties like IV therapy, gerontology, long-term care, and pharmacology.

A number of LPNs also favor to become registered nurses through LPN-to-RN training programs.


In 2008, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses held about 753,600 jobs. Approximately 25 percent of LPNs worked in hospitals, 28 percent in nursing care facilities, and another 12 percent in offices of physicians. Others worked for home healthcare services; employment services; residential care facilities; community care facilities for the elderly; outpatient care centers; and Federal, State, and local government agencies.

Job Outlook

Employment change. Employment of LPNs is assumed to increase by 21 percent between 2008 and 2018, much quicker than the average for all occupations, in response to the long-term care requirements of a growing elderly population and the general growth in demand for healthcare services.

Requirement for LPNs will be compelled by the growth in the share of the older population. Older persons have an increased occurrence of injury and illness, which will boost their demand for healthcare services. Furthermore, with better medical technology, people are living longer, boosting the demand for long-term healthcare. Job growth will happen over all healthcare settings but especially those that service the senior population like nursing care facilities, community care facilities, and home healthcare services.

In order to keep healthcare costs, many procedures once done only in hospitals are being done in physicians' offices and in outpatient care centers, hugely because of progresses in technology. As a result, the number of LPNs should grow faster in these facilities than in hospitals. However, hospitals will carry on requiring the services of LPNs and will stay one of the largest employers of these workers.

Job prospects. Other than the projected job increase, job openings will arise from replacement requirements, as many workers leave the occupation for good. Very good job opportunities are anticipated. Accelerated employment increase is projected in most healthcare industries, with the best job opportunities happening in nursing care facilities and in home healthcare services. There is an anticipated insufficiency of available healthcare in many rural areas, so LPNs willing to transfer in rural areas should have good job prospects.


In May 2008, average yearly wages of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were $39,030. The middle 50 percent brought home between $33,360 and $46,710. The lowest 10 percent acquired less than $28,260, and the highest 10 percent received more than $53,580. Average yearly wages in the industries hiring the biggest numbers of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in May 2008 were:

Employment services


Nursing care facilities


Home health care services


General medical and surgical hospitals


Offices of physicians


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