Online LPN Degrees

What Is a Vocational Nurse?

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) cares for sick, injured, or disabled patients under the direction of physicians or registered nurses. They may perform basic medical tasks, such as checking the patient's temperature, blood pressure, or pulse, or they may prepare and give injections, apply dressings, treat bedsores, help a patient with bathing or dressing, and in some states they're allowed to administer medications or start IVs. In physician's offices, they might also perform some clerical duties.

What Training or Degree Does a Vocational Nurse Need?

You must graduate from an accredited program and then pass an exam, called the NCLEX-PN, to obtain your license. Prerequisites for enrollment include a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Generally you can find an accredited program at a vocational school or community college, although some hospitals and universities offer them as well. The training lasts approximately one year and includes:
•    Nursing concepts and patient care
•    Anatomy
•    Physiology
•    Medical-surgical nursing
•    Pediatrics
•    Obstetrics
•    Psychiatric nursing
•    Administration of drugs
•    Nutrition
•    First aid
•    Clinical practice inside a hospital or other health care setting

You can advance to become a registered nurse through an LPN-to-RN training program, or become a supervisor of other LPNs and nursing aides.

Career Outlook and Salary Ranges

The middle 50 percent of LPNs earned a salary ranging from $28,890 to $47,220 a year, but the top 10 percent of earners made over $55,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). LPNs working for employment services made the most, followed by real estate, rooming and boarding houses, dental offices, and lastly, office services.

LPNs do have opportunities for advancement in some health care settings, such as nursing care facilities, where LPNs may be promoted to manage other LPNs and/or nurses' aides.

Factors Affecting LPN Salary

  • Type of employer: The BLS notes that LPNs working in certain jobs, such as employment services and dental offices, made the highest salaries in 2009, a trend that is likely to continue. Home health care services provided salaries in the middle of the pack, while hospitals and doctor's offices tend to offer the lower salaries.
  • Experience: The more work experience an LPN has, the higher his or her salary is likely to be.

Job Prospects

Jobs for LPNs are likely to increase through 2018 due in part to the increasing need for the type of tasks performed by LPNs. A growing elderly population will require the services of an increased number of LPNs in the near future.

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