Nursing Career Ladder in the United States (Part Two): the Licensed Practical Nurse, a.k.a. Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN / LVN)

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This post shall be the second in a four-part series that aims to shed some much-needed light on the illustrious nursing career ladder in the United States. Although the certified nursing assistant (CNA) remains the robust foundation of the nursing career ladder in the United States, the licensed practical nurse deserves a markedly special place on a rung of the very same ladder.

A licensed practical nurse, better known as an LPN, is a trained nurse who delivers basic nursing care duties under the direct and indirect supervision of registered nurses and/or physicians. Basic trained nurses in the US states of California and Texas are known as licensed vocational nurses, or LVNs. In fact, LPNs and LVNs are exactly the same type of nurse, but geographical location and local custom has dictated that their titles differ.

Throughout many instances in the lengthy history of the US healthcare system, LPNs have been respectably referred to as the eyes and ears for RNs and physicians. In the settings where they customarily work, LPNs have the tendency to spend more hands-on time delivering direct care and face to face contact to their patients than both RNs and doctors.

LPNs deliver direct nursing care duties that normally include important tasks such as medication administration, observation, data collection, vital sign acquirement, wound care, charting and documentation, dressing changes, supervision of nurses aides, maintenance of ostomies and feeding tube sites, prompt reporting of significant changes in patient status, measurement of inputs and outputs, and urinary catheter care.

To become an LPN / LVN, a prospective candidate must successfully complete a state approved practical nursing program. Completion of a state-approved practical nursing program generally takes about 12 to 18 months from start to finish. In the states of California and Texas, these programs are referred to as vocational nursing programs.

Practical and vocational nursing programs can be found in a diversely interesting variety of educational institutions such as community colleges, trade schools, private academies, and technical colleges. Practical and vocational nursing programs are also offered at many adult education centers, regional occupational programs (ROP), career training schools, and state universities.

Admissions requirements tend to vary depending on the type of institution and the competitiveness of the specific program. Generally speaking, practical nursing programs with the most affordable tuition attract more applicants, so admissions at the schools with the cheaper LPN programs are usually more competitive.

Also, practical nursing programs with excellent reputations in the local community often have competitive admissions processes because since students want to be associated with reputable schools. On the other hand, LPN/LVN programs that are owned and operated by for-profit corporations will usually have far less competitive admissions requirements due to factors such as high-priced tuition and issues with reputability.

The practical / vocational nursing graduate will also need to successfully pass a national licensing exam in order to secure a state license as an LPN / LVN. The name of this national licensing exam is the NCLEX-PN, and it is offered in all 50 U.S. states. Moreover, LPNs /LVNs can utilize a process called endorsement to obtain nursing licensure in additional states.

LPNs / LVNs can be found employed at nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, physicians offices, hospices, home health companies, private duty cases, blood banks, psychiatric facilities, camp sites, and physical rehabilitation centers. LPNs also work at schools, employee health centers, jail intake centers, prison infirmaries, the military, and same-day surgery suites.

Be on the lookout for the third post in this informative four-part series on the United States nursing career ladder. Also, place a telephone call to the Legacy Healthcare Careers campus at (682)626-5266 or call the 24-hour hotline at (682)313-6404 to enroll in affordable fast-track certified nursing assistant (CNA) training classes.

Feel free to visit the school’s website at http://www.LegacyHealthcareCareers.com for additional information and resources on careers in the nursing profession. After all, many LPNs and LVNs had originally entered the nursing profession by working as CNAs before ascending the nursing career ladder.

A career as a CNA can potentially serve as a wondrous springboard into the nursing profession. Jump-start your legacy today to make a wise investment in your professional and economic future.

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