A licensed professional nurse (LVN), which in many US states is called a licensed practical nurse (LPN), is a trained and educated nurse who can work in many different medical fields. It should be noted that LPN is the most common designation for this profession. Certain states like California and Texas more often refer to these nurses as LVNs. This does not mean that an LPN cannot get a job in these states.
Training to become a licensed professional nurse can vary. It usually includes one or two years of study. Programs to help with this are available at many technical schools and there are many community colleges that also offer LVN or LPN programs. These colleges may offer a combination of preparation to become a licensed professional nurse and an AA or AS degree at the same time. Typically, those who study at trade or vocational schools do not earn an associate’s degree, although this varies. Trade school programs may be shorter than programs offered at community colleges,
After completing the training, a person must take an exam to become licensed. This is called NCLEX-PN. It is required in all states. Canada has similar requirements and with a few extra steps, most people can easily become licensed as a nurse in the US or Canada, no matter which country they received their training in. Individuals should contact the Board of Nursing in the state in which they live to inquire about the requirements they must meet to become licensed if they have not received training in that state or country.
There are many different types of care that a licensed professional nurse is trained to perform. He or she may perform basic vital sign assessments, observe patients and report findings to registered nurses or physicians, administer injections, and assist patients with cleaning, feeding, and comfort needs. The work performed may depend on the location in which the nurse works.
There is some difference in whether a licensed vocational nurse can start IV drips or administer certain medications. These depend on what the state allows and will vary. Numerous other responsibilities depend on where the nurse works and can include anything from patient and family education to helping fill out office paperwork or filing insurance forms. LVNs can be called the “jans of all trades” because their competence may be required in many areas.
There is work available for these nurses in hospitals, nursing homes, and in doctor’s offices. Some nurses work in the home care field, and others prefer to work with a specific group of patients. There are some opportunities to specialize in certain areas.
Job prospects for licensed professional nursing work remain excellent due to the increasing demand for qualified nurses. These nurses cannot perform all the things required by RNs and earn less money on average. There are also risks to the job, as nursing can bring people into regular contact with contagious diseases and contaminated blood and other bodily fluids.