Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) work in Texas and California. In all other states, LVNs are known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs). LVNs work under the supervision of physicians and registered nurses (RNs) and spend much of their time directly caring for patients.
Licensed Vocational Nurse Educational Requirements
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, LVNs must graduate from a state-approved program in vocational nursing (www.bls.gov). Most programs can be found at community colleges and vocational schools, but some may be offered at hospitals or as part of a high school curriculum. Most programs last one year, but some employers might require an associate’s degree, which generally takes two years to earn. Vocational nursing programs typically have both classroom and clinical components. Courses typically include anatomy, physiology, pediatrics, obstetrics, medical-surgical nursing, first aid, nutrition and pharmacology.
Graduates must take an examination to become licensed in the state in which they will work. Texas examinations are administered by the Texas Board of Nursing, and the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians conducts California’s licensing exam. Continuing education credits could be required to maintain licensure.
Licensed Vocational Nurse Career Information
LVNs are generally responsible for providing patients with basic bedside care. Common job duties include giving injections and enemas, dressing wounds, massaging patients, treating bedsores and monitoring catheters. They also help patients with personal hygiene and day-to-day tasks, such as bathing, getting dressed, moving in bed, standing, walking and eating.
In addition, LVNs are usually responsible for monitoring a patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and respiration. They might need to record and track a patient’s height and weight, as well as food and fluid intake and output. Since LVNs spend significant time administering regular care, it is necessary that they inform physicians and senior nursing staff of any changes to a patient’s condition or habits as soon as they occur.
LVNs also interact with the families of patients. They could be responsible for educating family members on how to care for sick, injured or disabled relatives. They might also have some laboratory and clerical duties, such as collecting samples, performing laboratory tests, cleaning equipment and ordering supplies, as well as making appointments, updating patient charts and using a patient’s health history to complete insurance forms, referrals and authorizations. Experienced LVNs might be responsible for supervising nursing aide staff and dispersing patient medication.
Licensed Vocational Nurse Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Faster than average employment growth of 22% was predicted for licensed vocational and licensed practical nurses, from 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These nurses earned an annual median wage of $41,540 in 2012, the BLS noted.
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