Nursing is a growing industry in the United States, and there is also a huge demand. We hear about registered nurses, or RNs, all the time, but what about LVNs, also known as licensed vocational nurses? RNs and LVNs are similar roles, but they each have different responsibilities and duties. There are many different nursing designations, but a career in vocational nursing might be the best thing for your immediate needs.
What is a licensed vocational nurse?
An LVN is a nursing professional who has been trained to assist other nurses and doctors within various medical institutions. LVN is a term that is specific to California and Texas. Other states go by the term “LPNs” or “licensed practical nurses.”
Licensed vocational nurses provide a wide variety of different services for patients, other nurses, doctors and surgeons. You might be responsible for dressing wounds or updating charts or assisting patients during physical therapy. There are endless opportunities. LVNs, however, don’t have the same responsibility and freedom as an RN does. LVNs must work under the supervision of an RN or physician.
Where do licensed vocational nurses practice?
LVNs work in hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, homes, or any other setting where basic nursing care is needed. LVNs can also apply for travel nursing positions.
What are the duties and responsibilities?
LVNs have a wide scope of duties. Responsibilities will vary depending where you work and who you work under. However, their main responsibilities revolve around patient care. Most of the time they are responsible for discussing care with patients, reporting on their health and concerns, and keeping their records up-to-date.
LVNs can take on a number of duties. Some of the duties might include the following:
- Monitor patients’ health and vitals (such as checking their blood pressure, pulse, respiration, temperature, height, and weight)
- Administer basic nursing care (including changing bandages, collecting blood and urine samples, and inserting catheters)
- Provide basic comfort (such as helping patients get dressed, bathe, eat, walk, sit, and stand
- Discuss health care with patients and listen to their concerns)
- Report patients’ status to registered nurses and doctors
- Fill out patients’ paperwork (such as insurance forms, referrals, and pre-authorizations)
- Perform laboratory tests
- Administer medications
- Start intravenous fluids (IVs)
LVNs work directly with patients most of the time. In this sense, they are similar to all other nurses and must be caring and sympathetic to their patients’ needs. They must also be able to stay calm and keep emotions under control because people will look to them for comfort in stressful situations. A couple other traits to be a successful LVN is to be observant and have good communication skills.
How do you become a licensed vocational nurse?
The legal scope of practice for an LVN is set by the Texas Nursing Practice Act (NPA) and the Board’s Rules and Regulations. LVNs can earn their training through a one-year nursing diploma program, which is usually offered at a vocational school or community college. Once you graduate from an accredited program and pass the national licensing exam, you are eligible to practice in anywhere in the country.
There are numerous LVN courses available, but it is essential to look for a program that fits your budget, fits your needs, and provides a quality education that will prepare you to pass your licensing examination. The most important thing to consider are the school’s accreditations. If you are still having trouble deciding on one school, check out the percentage of graduating students from the school who have gone on to pass the state licensing examination. If the percentage is low, the students were probably not well prepared for the test.
What is the salary and job outlook?
LVNs don’t make nearly as much as RNs do, but they also don’t go through as extensive training as RNs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary earned by licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was $43,1710 in May 2015. They also reported that the highest-paid ten percent earned around $59,510, while the lowest-paid ten percent earned around $32,040.
The employment rate of LVNs and LPNs is expected to grow by 16% by 2024, which is much faster than the average growth rate. Some LVNs may decide to upgrade their qualifications and return to school and become a registered nurse. Many employers are often more than willing to support their efforts with flexible scheduling or tuition reimbursement.
If you are interested in starting your career as a licensed vocational nurse, contact Ascend National Healthcare Staffing. We will help you find the right workplace that fits your wants and needs.