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The healthcare industry is growing and is expected to add more jobs by the year 2026 than any other industry according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many of those jobs will be in clinical occupations, such as nursing, offering many the opportunity to build successful careers in this segment of the healthcare field. If becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse is something you may be interested in, here's what you need to know to help you decide whether nursing is the right career for you.
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a person who has completed a state-approved and accredited nursing education program and has been licensed to provide basic nursing care under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. In some states, these nurses are called Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).
The duties of a Licensed Practical Nurse vary to some degree per their specific employment setting and situation. They also differ from one state to another per regulations put into place by each state's Board of Nursing. However, most Licensed Practical Nurses/Licensed Vocational Nurses will be accountable for the following job responsibilities:
In some states, LPNs/LVNs with advanced training may administer medications or start intravenous (IV) drips. They may also, depending upon the state, be charged with duties like collecting samples for lab tests, performing routine lab tests, applying and maintaining catheters, aiding in the delivery and care of infants, and helping with patient education on health and self-care matters, among other tasks.
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses work in a wide variety of locations within the healthcare field. According to BLS figures, they held about 724,500 jobs in 2016, with their largest employer being nursing and residential care facilities, which accounted for 38 percent of those jobs. Local, state and private hospitals employed 16 percent of LPNs/LVNs in 2016, and 13 percent worked in physicians' offices. Home healthcare services provided 12 percent of LPN/LVN positions in 2016, and 7 percent were employed by government. Other LPN/LVN employment settings include the military, assisted living centers, hospice facilities and corrections facilities, among others.
People who are thinking of becoming a LPN/LVN can expect a favorable job environment for advancing their career, according to BLS projections. The agency predicts that job growth for this occupation will be faster than the average for all occupations, with employment for LPNs/LVNs rising by 12 percent by the year 2026.
BLS states that factors spurring that growth will include increased demand for healthcare services from the aging baby-boom generation, as well as increasing incidence of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity. Both of these factors are expected to increase the need for LPNs/LVNs in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care centers, home healthcare agencies and outpatient care clinics, among other healthcare settings.
BLS also states that job prospects are likely to be most favorable for LPNs/LVNs who are qualified for specialties, such as IV therapy or gerontology, or those who are willing to work in rural areas or in locations that are medically underserved.
While these projections can give career-minded people an idea of the potential of an occupation, it is important to realize that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. That data is not to be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.
Earning a practical nursing diploma with Bryant & Stratton College will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to enter the nursing profession as a LPN/LVN. It will also prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical /Vocational Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to earn your practical nursing license.
Additionally, earning Bryant & Stratton's Practical Nursing Diploma and passing the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed gives you the opportunity to transfer credits you earned from your diploma-level program to the college's Nursing Associate Degree program. This can give you a head start on continuing your education to become a Registered Nurse, credentials that represent a big step towards building a solid career in the field of nursing.
Working as a Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse generally means passing a criminal background check and undergoing drug testing. Virtually all healthcare employment settings are required to screen employees for criminal histories and illegal drug use.
Many employers also require candidates for LPN and LVN positions to be trained and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Many nursing education programs offer CPR training, or training and certification can be obtained through the American Red Cross.
LPNs and LVNs who wish to work in specialized fields may find that some employers require them to be certified for those specialties. Certifications are earned through professional associations, which generally means meeting the educational and work experience requirements set out by these organizations, then passing an exam administered by them.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Practical Nursing field, please visit the healthcare degree section on the Bryant & Stratton College blog. Exploring our website can also provide further insights on building a successful and rewarding career in the nursing profession.