What Does a LPN Do?
A career in nursing offers many opportunities for those who want to work in the medical field. But since getting a degree as a nurse can be quite expensive, many students choose to take up practical nursing first and continue studying to be a registered nurse (or RN) while earning money as a licensed practical nurse (or LPN). However, the job description of a LPN may not be clear to everyone. What does a LPN do? And what are the skills that a person should have in order to be a good LPN? Read on to find out.
What Does a LPN Do?
So, exactly what does a LPN do? Though both LPN and RN duties revolve around patient care, a LPN has less independence than a RN when it comes to carrying out treatment.
Most of a LPN’s job is providing basic nursing care for patients, and exactly what does a LPN do on a daily basis can differ widely between different states. Although tasks can vary, typical things a LPN can do includes:
- Medication administration
- Collecting data and keeping records of patients
- Monitoring chances in condition
- Checking vital signs
- Wound care and dressing changes
- Collecting fluid samples
- Administrating IV medications
- Assisting with personal hygiene
- Providing care instructions for families
- Specimen collection such as blood, urine, etc.
- Urinary catheter insertion and care
- Notify physicians or RNs if needed
A practical nurse, or LPN (or LVN or licensed vocational nurse in CA and TX), must complete around a year of education before graduating and being qualified to take the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse or NCLEX-PN.
Comparable to other medicals professions, diligence is important when studying to become a LPN. After all, health is on the line when carrying out treatment programs for patients, and there is absolutely no room for error especially when it comes to tasks such as giving medication. This is the reason why, just like RNs, LPNs are also trained to know the fundamentals of biology as well as pharmacology.
Apart from the intellectual aspect, the job also requires physical strength. Though it may well not always be the circumstance, there are times when an LPN may need to assist an individual who has difficulty moving or walking. Having a strong physique will prove to be useful on the job.
What Nursing Tasks Can’t a LPN Do?
Now that we’ve answered the question, “what does a LPN do?”, differentiating between the tasks of a RN and a LPN could clarify any confusion between the two professions. For one, a LPN carries out tasks under the supervision of a RN or physician. This is because a LPN’s education in biology and health care is much more limited than that of a RN. A LPN’s scope of practice is determined by the state’s nursing board, and can vary widely depending on where you reside.
Though LPNs help patients with basic tasks including bathing or dressing, it is the job of a RN to administer medication and treatment. Operating medical equipment is also a task left to a RN rather than a LPN.
LPNs are also trained to talk to patients about their health concerns. However, LPNs can only listen to the patients’ concerns and discuss health care problems. It is the responsibility of a RN to advise the patient and their families on how to best manage the disease and treatment.
Though LPNs’ responsibilities are much more limited compared to that of RNs, LPNs are expected to have knowledge on the foundations of health care. And with perseverance and passion, any LPN can continue their studies to become a full-fledged registered nurse.