What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do

Within the field of nursing there are a number of titles which helps to differentiate employment levels, staff and responsibility; some of them include Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). The LVPs and LPNs do not work individually but work under doctors and RNs. RNs and doctors usually determine courses of patient care while the job of LPN/LVNs is to help patients carry out these instructions. This is different from other nursing jobs because you will not be required to have a college degree, but you should however get trained from a certified school.

LPN/LVN should always be friendly, responsible and willing to help people. The only difference between Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse is the name because LVN is used in Texas and California and LPN is used in other parts of the United States. If you are interested in the medical field then becoming a LVN/LPN can be a good idea because it usually takes 13 months and is less expensive as compared to becoming an RN. Once you become a LVN/LPN, you can work with nurses and doctors or you can even pursue something further.

These caregivers have the chance of interacting with patient on a regular basis and provide basic nursing care. The duties and responsibilities of LPN/LVN usually vary depending on the work setting, but some common duties that licensed practical and vocational nurses do include:

  • They provide basic patient care like inserting catheters, changing bandages etc.
  • Monitoring health of patients which includes checking their blood pressure.
  • Keep health records of patients
  • Ensure patients have basic comfort such as help them to dress or bath.
  • Discuss with patients about the care they are providing and taking note of their concerns.
  • Report the patients’ concerns and status to doctor and Registered Nurses.

Keep in mind that their duties might vary depending on the state they are working for and their work setting. For instance, they might support teaching done by RN concerning the way family members are supposed to take care of their relatives like; feeding, help deliver and care for infants; carry out laboratory tests and collect samples for testing; or help in feeding patients. However, LPN/LVN might be limited to doing some tasks and this depends on the state in which they work. Some states allow LPN/LVNs to start intravenous (IV) drip or to give medications but other states don’t allow them to perform such tasks. The regulations of different states manage or control the way LPN/LVNs should be supervised e.g. LPN/LVNs might be allowed to provide some form of care only if they are instructed by a doctor or RN. Other states allow experienced LPN/LVNs to direct and supervise other LPN/LVNs or any unlicensed medical staff.

Work Environment

icon-hcp-nurse-patient-newMost LPN/LVNs work in physicians’ offices, surgical or general care hospitals, home health care facilities, nursing care facilities as well as community care facilities for the elderly. Other places they can also work include blood banks, correctional facilities, outpatient clinics, psychiatric hospitals and dialysis centers. LPN/LVNs are required to be on their feet most of their times when they are with patients because they might have to lift or move patient who find it difficult to sit, stand, walk or move in bed. Most LPN/LVNs usually work in shift during the holidays, weekends or nights because they must provide medical care to patients at all hours. This may require one to work in shifts for more than 8 hours.

According to the research done by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries that employed most LPN/LVN in the year 2014 included 7% in the government, 11% in home healthcare services, 13% in offices of physicians, 17% in local, private or state hospitals and 38% in nursing and residential care facilities. This means that after one has graduated and obtained his/her licensure then they are ready to start working as LPN/LVNs. There are many programs which provide career support to people who are looking for LPN/LVNs jobs in certain areas. For you to stand out and get employed easily then you need to create an appealing resume and upload it on LinkedIn or any other career websites that can help you get the job of your dreams. With experience, LVN/LPN can advance to other healthcare occupation or to supervisory position. For example, you can complete an RN education and become a Registered Nurse.

Popular Career Options

Depending on the type of program that a scholar chooses, successful graduates can pursue clinical responsibilities such as nurse practitioners or they can alternatively practice specialty roles such as a teacher or even an administrator. Some of the potential job titles in this particular career pool include the following:

[color-box customcolorpicker=”#118291″]

  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Health systems manager
  • Public health nurse 


A while back the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,) had forecasted that advanced practice nurses such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and even nurse midwives would observe a job growth of about thirty percent from the years 2014 up to 2024. Last year as of May 2015, this government body published reports that stated that the median yearly wages for these nurses were as follows:

  • Nurse midwife: > $92,000
  • Nurse practitioner: > $98,000
  • Nurse anesthetist: > $157,000

How to Become a Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

In contrast to other nursing jobs, licensed vocational and licensed practical nurses do not have an obligation to hold a college or university degree. Nonetheless, training is essential from a certified institution, resulting in a postsecondary, non-degree credit.

Whenever a person decides to become a RN (registered nurse) sometime in the future, they’ll need to acquire either an associate’s i.e. LPN-to-RN, or a normal bachelor’s degree i.e. LP-to-BSN; however, the LPN training will add up as credit with regard to your bachelor’s degree. The educational program of becoming LPNs/LVPs is commonly found in community colleges and technical schools, some of them are also available in hospitals and high school. The classroom learning subjects to be taught in the practical nursing programs include pharmacology, nursing and biology. You can find a brief description of each option below.

Associate’s Degree Programs

Supposing you are fascinated about advancing your profession and becoming a registered nurse, you should reflect on the probability of enrolling in an LPN-to-RN curriculum. An associate’s degree in nursing takes account of the following courses, nursing, anatomy, chemistry, nutrition, microbiology, just to mention a few. Acquiring an associate’s degree from scratch generally takes about 2 to 3 three years, but if one has LPN or LVN course credits, he or she can, as a rule, acquire the degree in a shorter period of time. 

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Supposing you are an LVN or LPN who is determined to become a registered nurse, you have a choice to sign up for an LPN-to-BSN course which is devised purposely for LPNs and usually take about 3 academic years. Institute offering these programs have a propensity to concentrate on nursing classes where learners are educated on better leadership and management skills.

Once a scholar has enrolled for the master’s degree, core subjects in an MSN program lay emphasis on nursing ethics as well as research. Students then study courses to advance their patient care skillfulness. Courses may include:

  • Patient diagnosis
  • Advanced nursing theory
  • Illness prevention
  • Prenatal care or primary family care
  • Pharmacology
  • Path physiology 

What certification will I need?

Subsequent to completion of the degree program, one will have to take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). With the aim of sitting for the exam, one will have to submit an application for a nursing license from the state board of nursing (this depends on which state you come from). In view of the fact, that each state has diverse eligibility criteria, you will be required to verify with your state board to make sure that you have met the mandatory requirements in order to sit for the examination.

The National Council Licensure Examination covers 4 categories of needs; this is in accordance with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing:

  • Secure, effective care atmosphere: Management care, infection control and safety measures
  • Psychosocial reliability: Dealing and adapting to psychologically related medical issues
  • Matters concerning health endorsements and preservation: Growth and development during the life span, early detection and prevention of diseases
  • Reliability in matters of physiology; offering basic car, pharmacological, comfort, and parental therapies, physiological adaptation, and diminution of risk potential.

Prospects to Be Learnt In These Courses

LVN/LPN training courses normally cover general medical issues. In addition to that, you have the opportunity to have hands on lessons in a clinical work setting.

Typical courses include:

  • Basic nursing
  • Physiology and Anatomy
  • Nutrition
  • Emergency care
  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Obstetric nursing
  • Pediatric nursing

Program Durations

By and large, the majority of LVN/LPN programs take about one full academic year, nevertheless, others can be done in a shorter time span like as seven months; on the other hand, some program may take more than two years, therefore when selecting any program, it would be useful to take your time to be able to properly select the type of program that will always support your schedule.

Programs Being offered Online

Several vocational institutions as well as different community colleges offer both LPN and LVN programs; o many of them have extended these educational services on the internet. Prior to enrollment is vital to consider the possibility that you will almost certainly do your clinical work at a local hospital. For this to happen, the medical school or institution should be in coordination with the hospital. 

Cost of LPN/LVN Programs

Tuition fees charged on average for studying LPN/LVN programs normally lies around $2,000. There is also the existence of financial grants and financial aid for justified students offered by various schools. This makes it easier for prospect student to pay for their education.

Supposing one decides to become a registered nurse future or even go back to earn that bachelor’s degree, many institutions will offer to give you your credit for use in your LPN coursework; thus ultimately cutting you some slack as well as time. Furthermore, if you have accumulated some LVN/LPN vocation experience, some institutions will permit you to experiment out of certain classes, thus saving you some money.

Program Prerequisites

LVN/LPN programs being offered at vocational schools and community colleges oblige applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent qualification. A number of institution and programs will also require applicants to pass an entrance assessment examination; consequently it’s an excellent initiative to validate this when tendering your applications for any of these programs.

Program Accreditation

Accreditation is a textbook technique used parents and students alike to discern if a program meets the nationally-acknowledged nursing education criteria. Autonomous accrediting institutions normally register learning institutions once they have undergone a thorough application procedure. For the reason that these institutions are always updated on matters concerning the health departments and state governments; they recognize whether an institution or program presents the crucial training to an LVN/LPN learner in their respective state.

Important for students, accreditation can assist with both grant as well as financial aid eligibility. Acquiring a degree at one endorsed school also permits a scholar to pursue further education at supplementary accredited institutions. In addition, whenever you relocate to a different state, having done your training at an accredited school, you will be at ease whenever you want to get a new license.

Note: Accreditation is neither acquired nor maintained in perpetuity; they are customarily bestowed for a definite amount of time, typically between five and ten years, and are specific for each institution. It’s a competent initiative to verify with your prospective program provider concerning the length of their accreditation.

Major Accrediting Bodies

  • In the U.S for example, the ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing), formerly known as NLNAC, accredits the entire continuum of nursing programs, be it associate’s degree, bachelor’s , diploma, and also the master’s)
  • The CCNE (Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education), accredits both the bachelor’s as well as master’s nursing programs

It is imperative to draw attention to the fact that the CCNE does not accredit or certify both LVN and LPN programs. For this reason, you will be compelled to search for programs that come with a seal of endorsement from the NLNAC.

To summarize this context, you should understand that the State boards of nursing endorse institutions in order to prepare the students for the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Be that as it may, the state board consent does not automatically equal institution accreditation from any of other national associations. At the same time, most accredited institutions are state board-approved, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always a time-wasting initiative to check.

Non-accredited schools

Supposing you are considering the perspective of attending a non-accredited institution, even though it may be state board-approved, there are possibilities of a number of drawbacks to occur. This is because, even though you can still do the NCLEX, your nursing career may stall, especially if you are in the quest of furthering your education. In general, edification from a non-accredited institution does not accredit students to attend other accredited institutions.

Training Programs

Why You Should Consider Additional Training

training-iconCompletion of LVN and LPN training, receiving your license and entering the workforce is among the techniques used to explore the career pool of nursing. When one is starting their career in nursing, a shorter investment in both time and money will be required for an entry-level vocational or practical nurse training as a RN. After a while, once you have gotten used to some of their nursing roles, LVN/LPNs may perhaps choose to seek after advanced education and training, for instance, a nursing degree at the bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree level. Both these study options commonly offer wider employment prospects and improved earning potential. 


Depending on the type of institution a student will decide to pursue, LVN/LPN programs culminate in the following disciplines; certificate, a diploma, or associate’s/bachelor’ degree. Each of these disciplines offers a specific focus, and students should reflect on their career aspiration prior to selecting a program.

Diploma or Certificate Associate Degree
Curriculum focal point



Duration of Program







Career-focused tuition limited to LVN/LPN proficiency and familiarity


9-18 months



Swift access to the national workforce; training usually provided by professionals in the discipline

A number of employers may have a preference of hiring aspirants with a degree and these certificates usually won’t transfer over to other institutes should the student decide to pursue further studies


Supplements LVN/LPN coursework with broad-spectrum education programs


18-24 months



More resourceful scholarly credential; credits may reassign toward a bachelor’s degree


Longer time liability; admissions procedure may be slightly more thorough


Tools and Technology in the Field

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses utilize an assortment of different supplies and technologies in their typical workday. Examples could comprise specialty items utilized to monitor patients or administer medication as well as specific computer programs for recording information and remarks.

The medical kits and technology used by LVN/LPNs can be classified into the following categories:

Medical Tools for Treatment


Intravenous Therapy Supplies , Needles  & Nebulizers
Diagnostic Tools Thermometer, Pulse Oximeter & Spirometer,


Computer Hardware           Handheld Desktop Computers, Notebook  or Tablets


Computer Software Medic Ware, Microsoft Office Suite, triage software, scheduling software,


Qualities of LVN/LPN

Some of the important qualities Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse should possess include:

  • Detail oriented and responsible: LPN/LVNs are required to be detail oriented and responsible as it will help them to give their patients proper care at the right time.
  • Compassion: LPN/LVNs need to be caring and empathetic towards patients and the people they serve.
  • Patients: It might be stressful to deal with injured or sick people but as a LVNs/LPNs, you should be patient and know how to deal with these kinds of stresses.
  • Speaking skills: LPN/LVNs should be able to communicate freely and effectively e.g. pass on concerns of the patient to a Registered Nurse.
  • Interpersonal Skills: LPN/LVNs need good interpersonal skills because they always interact with patients, RN and other healthcare providers.
  • Physical stamina: LPN/LVNs need to be relaxed and comfortable when performing physical activities. For example, they might be required to bend over their patients for a given time period.

Salary for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses 

salary-icon-3The median annual salary for LPN/LVNs was $43,170 in May 2015. The median salary can be defined as the wage where half workers in a given occupation les that that amount and half earned more. The highest ten percent got paid more than $59,510 and lowest ten percent got paid less than $32,040. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of LPN/LVNs in May 2015, in the top industries they worked for was as follows: $39,010-offices of physicians, $42,010-local, private and state hospitals, $44,060-home healthcare services, $44,330-nursing and residential care facilities and $44,550-government.

Most LPN/LVNs work full time but according to research in 2014 by the US Bureau of Labor statistics, 1 in 5 worked part-time.

Job Outlook

Employment of LPN/LVNs is projected to grow 16% from 2014 to 2024; this is more rapid than the average for all careers. As this “infant-escalation” population matures, there’s universal necessity for healthcare services; and such services are expected to increase. LVNs and LPNs will be required in residential care amenities and in home health situations to tend to older patients.

A scarcity of registered nurses in some regions has brought about a state of affairs where LVNs as and LPNs are required to fill in on other nursing duties that are normally outside their usual scope. Certain business reports hint that many practical nurses are projected to retire soon thus giving opportunity for young LVNs and LPNs. A budding populace of elderly citizens requires extra number of professionals operating in long-term health care amenities.

Medical Careers Related to LPN/LVNs

Although working as an LVN/LPN can be a fulfilling career, a number of nurses might still be interested in searching for other healthcare-related careers. Below are some of the common occupations LVN/LPN might be interested in including their educational requirements, expected job growth and average salaries:

  • Certified Nurse Assistant: It is a medical career where the educational and training requirement is a postsecondary training and the expected job growth is 21% and the average salary is approximately $26,250
  • Medical Assistant: It is a medical career where the education and training requirement is a postsecondary training and the expected job growth is 29% and the average salary is approximately $31,220
  • Surgical Technologist: It is a medical career where the educational and training required is an associate degree in surgical technology or a postsecondary certificate. The expected job growth and the average salary is approximately $45,010.
  • Neonatal Nurse: This is another medical career where the educational and training required is a bachelor’s degree, associate degree or diploma; certification in neonatal car is optional. The expected job growth is 19% and average salary is approximately $60,000.
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographer: It is a medical career where the education and training required is a bachelor’s or an associate degree in sonography. The expected job growth is 39% and the average salary is approximately $68,390.
  • Registered Nurse: It is a medical career where the education and training required is an associate degree or diploma in nursing; most employers may prefer those who have pursued bachelor’s degree in nursing. The expected job growth is 19% and average salary is approximately $69,790.
  • Nurse Practitioner: This is a medical career where the educational and training requirement is a master’s degree. The expected job growth is 31% and average salary is approximately $97,900.
  • Physical Therapy Assistant: This is a medical career where the education and training required is an associate degree from a certified institution. The expected job growth is 41% and the average salary is approximately $45,330.


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