5 Places Your Licensed Practical Nursing Degree Could Take You
Licensed Vocational Nursing, more commonly called Licensed Practical Nursing, is a growing field. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 12% increase in the number of Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) jobs through 2026. LPN jobs span a variety of settings, from clinics and hospitals to retirement communities. Some even travel. The typical LPN salary varies based on geography and the type of job, but median pay exceeds $20 per hour. Most LPNs enroll in a fast-paced diploma program that lasts roughly one year before sitting for their licensing exam, called the NCLEX-PN. This training includes a mix of clinical topics like anatomy, and pharmacology, blended with practical skills.
LPNs join several types of nurses working in virtually every kind of clinical medical setting, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, and urgent care clinics. They also work in patients’ homes, nursing care facilities, schools, and community centers. There are more potential LPN careers out there than you might think. If you’re considering pursuing promising opportunities as an LPN, or enrolling in an LPN or LVN program, here are five very different kinds of careers that licensed practical or vocational nurses might find for themselves.
Private Duty Nurse – LPNs Working in People’s Homes
Private duty nurses provide skilled care for individuals, usually in their homes, in a one-on-one basis. There are a variety of conditions that require this level of care and attention, including congenital issues like Cerebral Palsy and diabetes, or conditions resulting from injuries, including brain trauma or spinal cord injury. Patients could be of any age, from pediatric through geriatric. A private duty LPN may see one patient full-time or be spread across several. Employment arrangements can vary as well. Nurses could be employed by a hospital or agency, work as a contractor, or even self-employed.
Private Duty LPNs fill an important role: allowing patients living with difficult conditions to live comfortably at home, rather than in a hospital. This allows the patient to be closer to family and recover in a familiar environment. LPNs may be responsible for working with specialized equipment in this setting. This might include checking a ventilator, administering tube feedings, or maintaining a patient’s tracheotomy. It also means paying special attention to the environment, patient privacy, and maintaining respectful, professional relationships with everyone else living in that home.
Many private care nurses develop close friendships with their patients and their families due to the large amount of time they spend with them in their homes. Someone seeking an LPN career might find this to be much more agreeable than a high-pressure hospital setting. Or, they may prefer extended engagements with a single patient over seeing many people over the course of a single day. Altogether, private care nurses feel a sense of accomplishment in the close attention and personal care that they are able to deliver.
Private Duty Nurse LPN Salary
According to payscale.com, the average private duty nurse LPN salary is $23.71 per hour. This can vary regionally and depend upon individual client contracts.
Nursing Homes – LPN Careers in Caring for Aging People
As the US baby-boom population ages, demand is increasing for health care workers, and this is especially acute in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In these settings, LPN jobs have a wide breadth of responsibilities. These could range from direct skilled care, like giving injections, administering medication, providing IV therapy, taking vital signs, dressing wounds, drawing blood, and performing diagnostic tests. LPNs are also often charged with keeping detailed patient records, making them an important source of information for the rest of the staff. Equally as important as direct care are the soft skills that LPNs and LVNs bring to assisted living and nursing home settings. Nurses must be compassionate and observant when dealing with residents while developing respectful, productive relationships with fellow staff. Good communication skills are vital.
Hours vary across facilities, but LPN jobs in nursing homes tend to include weekend and evening work. They may see dozens of patients in a single day. It may be necessary to respond quickly to an injury or to the needs of a resident. Nurses rotate shifts between day and night and work every other weekend. Shifts may be 12 or 8 hours long. While some find the long hours demanding, they mean a shorter work week overall.
LPN Salary – Nursing Homes
The national average salary of LPNs and LVNs working in nursing homes is $43,090, according to the Houston Chronicle. This varies geographically and can depends on other factors.
Medical Office LPN Positions
LPN positions in medical offices, clinics, and urgent care facilities are a critical component of patient care. You have probably had experience with an LPN during a doctor’s visit. In this setting, LPNs take vital signs, including blood pressure, height, and weight, and update medical records. Nurses in clinical settings work under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse and may be asked to perform follow-up tests after a doctor or RN has seen a patient. In addition, LPNs working in a doctor’s office handle patient records and may assist with making appointments.
Typically quieter, and with less high-intensity pressure than a hospital, doctor’s offices nonetheless move quickly, especially during times with high patient volume. Making sure that medical records are accurate and follow confidentiality practices is critical, even as LPNs juggle several patients at once. A skilled multitasker can excel in these environments. Work hours might fall into a normal work week, depending on the hours of the practice, with less evening and weekend work. Urgent care facilities are normally open later, and on weekends.
LPN Salary – Medical Office Positions
Salaries vary greatly depending upon location and position type. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay nationwide for a Licensed Practical Nurse averages $47,715 annually as of November, 2018.
Travel Nursing – LPNs on Demand
Travel nursing jobs for LPNs are short-term positions for nurses willing to travel to a different location to fill nursing shortages. They can vary in duration from a few weeks up to several months. Employers often pay for travel expenses and provide housing or housing stipends for travel nurses, and the LPN salary can be higher than in long-term positions. Travel Nurse LPNs are typically employed through agencies, which help to negotiate pay and benefits.
Travel Nurses get a rare opportunity to help communities that need them most, from big hospitals to small towns, especially during emergency situations. They’re not just tourists—they get to see different parts of the country as a resident living and working alongside others. And, from time to time, Travel Nurses get the opportunity to go somewhere a little more exotic. Travel nurses decide which jobs they are interested in pursuing, but the best opportunities may be in locations you would not have considered.
LPN Salary – Travel Nursing
Because travel nursing LPN and LVN jobs can offer compensation for meals and housing, the pay picture is a little more complicated. Breaking it down by total compensation vs. hours worked is one helpful approach that demonstrates the value of these additional benefits. With housing and meals paid for, travel nurses can bank average hourly earnings much higher than the base rate of around $20 hourly when all of this is factored in. It all depends upon the pay package for a given contract. Because covering work shortages can be demanding, the compensation for these jobs is higher than many comparable positions.
Get Certified, Continue Your Education and Become a Registered Nurse
LPN jobs are plentiful, and a career as an LPN or LVN can be long and rewarding. For those looking to grow even further, next steps could include pursuing an RN bachelor’s degree. RNs work in the same settings as LPNs, but have additional certifications, work with greater independence, and may oversee the work of LPNs.
Steps to LPN Certification
Licensed Practical Nurses typically study for about a year to obtain their LPN or LVN diploma. After passing the NCLEX-PN licensing exam, they are eligible to work. For many people, this is the ideal way to enter the field quickly and increase their career opportunities. It can be a great first step in a long, exciting career in nursing—one that could take place in many different potential settings.
Vista College LVN and LPN Programs
Get hands-on training in the real-world aspects of nursing, from providing excellent patient care to understanding the health system, while preparing for the NCLEX-PN exam. Program offered at select Vista College campuses in Texas.
With frequent program starts and accelerated learning, you may be ready to graduate in less than a year!