If you want to provide care directly to those who are suffering health problems, you should consider a career as a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. For those who are service-oriented, this can be a very fulfilling career.
As an LPN, your work will mainly be with patients. You may have others who work under you in various healthcare settings as well, such as nurse aides and nurse assistants. You will likely work under a registered nurse or a doctor. Common tasks performed by LPNs include recording patient vitals, giving injections to patients, dressing wounds, and watching over patients. In some settings you will also be responsible for collecting specimens, helping patients eat, and cleaning patients. These responsibilities can vary because LPNs can work in many different environments, such as long term care, medical clinics, home care, and hospitals.
As people live longer, more and more medical care practitioners at all levels are needed. While hospitals are not currently opening a lot of new LPN job slots, long term care is an industry that has many new LPN job openings annually.
LPN pays very well for the amount of education required. Even as far back as 2002, the US Department of Labor recorded a median average of over $31,000 annually for LPNs across the nation. In the lower paying markets, it was just under $23,000 and in the higher paying markets, pay was as high as $44,000. Within a given market, LPNs who contract out their work tend to be in the higher income range, while LPNs who work in physician’s offices tend to be in the lower income range.
As a licensed practical nurse, you may find there is a lot more job flexibility than in many other service fields. For example, many LPNs work just 3 days per week, 12 hours per day. Many facilities will even help with tuition for those LPNs who wish to continue learning and advancing.
The licensing requirements for LPNs vary by state. You must complete a nursing program that has state approval and then pass the state licensing exams. What makes this career so appealing for many is that the educational program generally takes less than a year. During that year you’ll study the basics of science and medicine, from anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry to pediatric nutrition, obstetrics, and first aid. Many LPNs get jobs and work while continuing their studies to become registered nurses. The career opportunities are plentiful for LPNs.