What Are the Job Duties for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)?

You can provide basic medical care and assist with patient recovery as a licensed vocational nurse. Read on to learn more about the job duties, skills, and training requirements of licensed vocational nurses. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

A licensed vocational nurse (LVN), sometimes called a licensed practical nurse, works under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses to provide medical care to patients. They typically work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and private homes. LVNs working in nursing homes may also perform supervisory roles, overseeing orderlies and nursing assistants.

Important Facts About Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs)

Median Salary (2014) $42,490 (for all licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 25% growth
Professional Certification Voluntary specialty certifications available in such areas as long-term care and IV therapy
Similar Occupations Registered nurses, nursing assistants and aides, occupational therapy assistants and aides, physical therapist assistants and aides, psychiatric technicians and aides

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties and Responsibilities

As an LVN, you'll monitor patients' conditions, care for wounds, and administer medications. Other daily duties include maintaining patient records, collecting blood or urine samples, and assisting patients with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene. Another important part of your job may be working with the families of patients and teaching them how to provide follow-up or preventative care to their loved ones. Some LVNs specialize in one aspect of nursing, such as long-term care or intravenous (IV) therapy, and focus on duties specific to their specialty.

Education Requirements

To become an LVN, you must graduate from an approved training program. These programs are offered through community colleges, technical schools, hospitals, and high school vocational programs. Gaining admission into a training program typically requires a high school diploma or passing scores on the General Educational Development exam.

LVN training programs tend to last one year and result in a diploma or certificate. You can expect to study topics like human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and pharmacology. You will also receive practical training in a clinical setting. These practicum experiences prepare you for nursing care in several areas of medicine, including pediatrics, gerontology, neonatal nursing, and mental health.

Licensing

After completing an LVN training program, you are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. This exam covers topics like infection control, pharmacological therapies, and health promotion (www.ncsbn.org). The NCLEX-PN is required for licensure in all states, though some states apply additional requirements.

Additional Qualifications

Many patients may be upset or in need of reassurance, and in such cases, will benefit from your services the most if you're patient, caring, and compassionate. Self-confidence, good judgment, and strong decision-making skills are also necessary for this career. Because this profession requires that you remain up-to-date on current procedures and science, a desire to learn is important. In fact, you'll be required to earn continuing education credits to maintain your license.

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