A licensed practical nurse’s duties include an exciting and fast-paced workload. Every LPN’s “day in the life” looks different, depending on where they work and the people they work with. Some LPNs work in hospitals alongside registered nurses and physicians. They work as a care team to provide the best care possible to their patients. Others work in nursing homes to improve the health and quality of life of aging members of the community. There are government, education, private and home health care settings that can also be potential places of employment available to LPN’s, too.
It is a fantastic career option for people who enjoy a change of pace in their work life. Before you apply for a program, it is important to make sure a career as an LPN is right for you. Understanding what the duties are for a licensed practical nurse is a great first step.
Duties of a licensed practical nurse
Licensed practical nurses provide basic medical care to sick, injured, or disabled people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the largest employers of LPNs in 2022 as:
- Residential care or assisted living facilities
- Hospitals or Doctor’s Offices
- Home health care settings
- Governments. Some LPNs may work for the military or in federal or state-run healthcare operations.1
Once licensed, graduates may also find employment in schools. The duties of a licensed practical nurse in schools require extra empathy and care. LPNs may work as school nurses or alongside school nurses to care for children who are sick or injured. Their duties may also include maintaining the standards of the school’s health supplies and policies.
No matter where they work, the duties of all LPNs involves:
- Working closely with RNs and physicians to help monitor patients.
- Helping treat patients through medical care and record keeping.
- Serving as a point of contact while patients are being treated.
Working closely with RNs and physicians to help monitor patients
Doctors, RNs, and LPNs all work together to ensure a patient’s proper care and treatment. It is important to work as a team united to analyze their condition and develop a treatment plan. Usually, LPNs report to registered nurses who delegate tasks for the LPN to complete. Monitoring patients is an important duty of an LPN. These tasks are usually related to the care of the patient or the facility.
Among the duties of an LPN that involve monitoring patients:
- Discussing care with patients.
- Recording their medical history.
- Listening to patient’s concerns.
- Checking blood pressure.
- Observing reactions to treatments.
- Documenting patient care.
- Maintaining health records.
- Observing patients and noting any changes in their condition(s).
- Collecting samples (such as blood or urine) and performing routine tests.
Helping care for patients
An LPN needs to be able to work in high-stress situations. They will care for people dealing with a variety of health issues. They need to be able to communicate effectively and make decisions under pressure.
For a licensed practical nurse, patient care duties may look like:
- Applying compresses, ice bags, or hot water bottles.
- Changing bandages, catheters, and other medical supplies.
- Preparing patients for examinations, tests, or treatments.
- Communicating treatment plans to patients and helping answer their questions.
Be a point of contact while patients are being treated
People skills are another important part in the work of licensed practical nursing. LPNs work closely with patients and their loved ones. Often, the patients are dealing with a stressful diagnosis or health problem. Because of this, LPNs need to develop strong communication skills. Building trust with patients and treating them with compassion and kindness is key. It’s important for the patient to know they are well cared for.
Besides answering their questions, the point of contact duties of an LPN may also include:
- Helping patients prepare for any tests or procedures.
- Making appointments.
- Keeping records.
- Performing other clerical duties.
- Communicating information about appointments to patients.
The skills needed to help LPNs perform their duties
Of course, all LPNs need to undergo some training and education before they can get started. But there are also some key personality skills you can develop outside of the classroom. These skills are crucial for success as a licensed practical nurse.
To begin, attention to detail is crucial. As an LPN, their duty is to make sure a patient gets the right care at the right time. Licensed practical nurses also need strong communication and interpersonal skills. They talk with patients and their families. They need to build a level of trust and rapport with each of their patients.
They also communicate with doctors, registered nurses, and other medical staff. Often, they will need to communicate clearly in high-stress situations. Learning how to be a clear and confident communicator is part of the work of becoming an LPN.
Another skill of an LPN is multitasking. LPNs often work with many patients at a time. These patients will have a variety of illnesses and issues. They will need diverse types of treatment. Multitasking is an essential skill LPNs need to ensure they are giving proper care. Finally, the work of an LPN requires some physical stamina. LPNs spend most of the day on their feet. They also do a lot of bending and heavy lifting, making physical stamina a key needed for the job.
Explore what your practical nurse training could be like!
A Practical Nursing program can teach students the key skills and concepts they need for a successful LPN career. Most programs last one year. The process to train to become a licensed practical nurse involves:
- Research approved, accredited LPN programs and weigh the pros/cons to find which program is right for you.
- Enroll in and complete the program.
- Take and pass the NCLEX-PN in the state you plan to work in.
- Once licensed, begin applying for jobs!
Dorsey College offers a Practical Nursing program. It is a great fit for people who want to go on to become LPNs in Michigan. Students will be exposed to key skills and duties needed in licensed practical nursing; including:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Maternal and newborn nursing
- Medical Terminology
- Practical Nursing Fundamentals
- Medical and surgical nursing
- Mental health concepts
- And more
Once licensed, graduates can look for opportunities such as working in a hospital, on a private care team, or in a school. No matter where you work, the duties of a licensed practical nurse play a crucial role in successful outcomes for patients. If the rewarding work of helping others calls to you, consider training in a Practical Nursing Program and contact Dorsey College to learn how they can help you!
Dorsey College has determined that its Practical Nurse program curriculum is sufficient to fulfill educational requirements for licensure in the State of Michigan only. No educational determinations have been made for any other state, district, or US territory in regards to nursing licensure requirements.