Levels of Nursing
When it comes to planning a nursing career, few factors are more confusing than the different levels of nursing: practical nursing, registered nursing, and advanced practice nursing.
Licensed practical nurses (LPN), also called licensed vocational nurses (LVN) in some states, care for patients under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. Most are generalists, working in all areas of healthcare, but some work in specialized settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs held about 749,000 jobs in 2006, with about 26% of LPNs working in hospitals, 26% in nursing care facilities, and 12% in physician offices. Others worked for home healthcare services; employment services; residential care facilities; community care facilities for the elderly; outpatient care centers; and federal, state, and local government agencies. About 19% of LPNs worked part-time.
LPNs in the workforce tend to fit in one of three categories: (1) those who had no formal education and who completed state-approved courses that qualified them to become licensed; (2) those who were licensed through "grandfathering" (exempt from new licensure rules); and (3) those who graduated from approved schools and have passed a licensure examination. In most states, those wishing to become LPNs today must graduate from an approved practical nurse program and successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) examination. However, there are exceptions. In California, you can become an LVN by completion of equivalent education and experience: 54 hours of pharmacology, 51 months of paid bedside nursing experience and verification of skill proficiency, or completion of education and experience as a corpsman in the U.S. military—12 months of active duty rendering direct bedside patient care, completion of the basic course in nursing in a branch of the armed forces, and general honorable discharge from the military. Those seeking to become LVNs via these alternatives must still take and pass the NCLEX exam.
LPNs often provide basic bedside care. They gather information from clients, including their health history and present state of health, sometimes using this information to complete medical charts, insurance forms, preauthorizations, and referrals, and they share this information with registered nurses and physicians to help determine the best plan of care for the client. LPNs measure and record clients' height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They assist clients with bathing, eating, dressing, personal hygiene, and mobility. LPNs collect samples for testing, perform routine laboratory tests, and record food and fluid intake and output. Some LPNs help to deliver, care for, and feed newborns; some care for children; others care for the elderly. In physicians' offices and clinics, LPNs may be responsible for making appointments, keeping records, and performing other clerical duties. Those who work in home healthcare may prepare meals and teach family members how to perform simple nursing tasks. In some states, LPNs are permitted to administer prescribed medicines, start and monitor intravenous (IV) fluids, and provide care to ventilator-dependent patients.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- Problems With Standardized Testing
- The Homework Debate