What is a LPN/LVN?
Licensed practical nurses -- also known as licensed vocational nurses, depending on the state -- provide patients with basic medical care under the direction of a registered nurse or doctor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), common tasks may include monitoring patients' health, changing bandages, helping patients bathe and updating patient charts. Duties can vary by state, however; potential LPNs can contact their state nursing boards to learn more.
Though LPNs and LVNs are by definition licensed, they differ from registered nurses. Education requirements for RNs tend to be more rigorous, and their duties and autonomy expand accordingly.
What is a LPN/LVN's salary?
Bls.gov reports that the 2012 national median LPN pay exceeded the national average for all occupations. Earnings can vary with education, experience and location, among other things. For example, the bls.gov notes that most LPNs complete a 1-year certificate or diploma program before taking a state-approved licensing exam, like the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN. LPNs who choose to pursue a higher credential -- like an associate degree -- may earn more than certificate-holders. Those who pursue additional, voluntary certification in specific areas of healthcare through professional associations may also earn more. Experience and location can also affect LPN pay.
Is it difficult to find a job as a LPN/LVN?
Though demand for LPNs is regional, bls.gov projects employment of these professionals will grow much faster than the average for all occupations nationally between 2012 and 2022. An aging population, an increased prevalence in certain chronic conditions and life-extending health advances should help fuel this demand. A large share of LPNs and LVNs are also expected to retire during this period, opening the door for newer professionals to enter the field. Bls.gov expects job prospects will be particularly good for LPNs and LVNs who are willing to work in rural and medically underserved areas.
Is there room for advancement as a LPN/LVN?
Given time and experience, LPNs can eventually advance to supervisory positions. According to bls.gov, many LPNs invest in the education necessary to become registered nurses. Some schools even offer special bridge programs, like an LPN to RN program, designed to streamline this transition. As with LPNs, RN licensing requirements can vary by state. State nursing boards can clarify these requirements.
Do LPNs/LVNs need to be licensed or certified?
Bls.gov reports that LPNs and LVNs must be licensed to practice. As noted above, requirements are state-specific. In general, however, one will be expected to complete an accredited LPN or LVN training program and successfully pass the national NCLEX-PM nursing exam. LPNs and LVNs can earn additional professional certifications through groups like the National Association of Practical Nurse Education and Services. These credentials tend to be voluntary, but some employers prefer candidates who have them.
Licensed Practial and Licensed Vocational Nurses, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012,
NAPNES Advanced Education Certificate Programs,