Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) is a job title specific to Texas and California. Licensed vocational nurses are known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in all other states. LVNs and LPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and physicians, providing basic bedside care to patients.
Licensed Vocational Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed vocational nurses earned an average of $42,400 in 2012 (www.bls.gov). The highest ten percent earned $57,360 or more, while the lowest ten percent earned $30,970 or less. In 2010, the BLS predicted a 22% growth of employment for licensed vocational nurses through 2020.
Licensed Vocational Nurse Job Duties
LVNs are typically responsible for monitoring patients’ vital signs, including their blood pressure, pulse, respiration, temperature, height and weight. Other tasks that LVNs are responsible for include giving enemas, recording intake and output of foods and fluids, collecting samples for testing, maintaining equipment, dressing wounds, treating bedsores and giving massages. They also assist patients in getting dressed, bathing, eating, walking and standing.
Since LVNs have a lot of direct contact with patients, they record and update patient histories, keep track of how they are feeling and monitor their responses to medications and treatments. LVNs may use this information to fill out paperwork, such as insurance forms, referrals and pre-authorizations, and to inform doctors and RNs so that they may determine the best course of care for a patient. Some LVNs also perform laboratory tests, assist in the delivery of and care for infants, administer medications and start intravenous fluids (IVs).
Licensed Vocational Nurse Requirements
LVNs must graduate from a vocational nursing program. These programs are usually offered by community colleges and vocational schools, and they usually take about one year to complete. Students enrolled in these programs receive training both in the classroom and in a clinical environment. Subjects covered typically include anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, first aid, obstetrics, pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing and patient care. However, some employers may require completion of a 2-year associate’s degree program, which would also include general education courses such as English, mathematics, social science and humanities.
Those who have graduated from state-approved training programs and have completed other state eligibility requirements for licensure must take the National Council Licensure Examination in practical nursing (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed. This exam is given by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is computer-based. LVNs may also be required by some states and employers to complete continuing education credits at regular intervals.
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