California/Texas LVNs and medication

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chefcookie1 in Los Angeles, California

46 months ago

I had thought that only RNs could administer medications but then I heard of an LVN in California that does administer them. My questions is how are medications handled in these states as far as giving them to patients? Does a pharmacist dispense the meds for each patient and the LVN just delivers them? Do two nurses count them together and then one distributes them? or is the whole responsibility up to the LVN? I'm considering taking the LVN program but I am very nervous about giving out meds (counting, measuring, ect.) but if there is another person confirming things, I feel better about it. Thanks in advance for your response.

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jmclelland in San Ramon, California

46 months ago

Couldn't help but stop when I saw your question. I have been an LPN in Pennsylvania for eight years and am now an LVN in California. If you are an LVN, YOU ARE A NURSE!!!! There are some restrictions, such as you cannot administer chemo or TPN. You can administer and start IVs but you cannot push IV medications. Those are the biggest differences. There is no one holding your hand. You are responsible for patient assessments, care plans, medication records, charting, etc. In short, you are a nurse functioning under the license of an RN...but they are not babysitting you. You need to have clinical skills to insert catheters, maintaing IV lines, G/J tubes, NG tubes, trachs, ventilators, etc. And, yes, measure and administer medications, including injectables. If this makes you nervous, perhaps you should get your CNA and work in the field first to determine if this is truly your calling. Hope this helps, and good luck!

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KAT in Arlington, Texas

46 months ago

In LVN school you will learn everything and then some about pharmacology and med administration. Number one thing is that you must have a physician's order to give the drug. Then the pharmacy dispenses the drug to you. Then you verify that the drug is what was ordered, the right dose, route, time, and to the right patient. Also known as the "5 rights". Controlled substances such as narcotic pain killers have to be counted and signed out. You will learn all this in school. All states allow LPN/LVNs to administer meds. Where I live, we do every route including IV pushes depending on the employer.

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chefcookie1 in Los Angeles, California

46 months ago

jmclelland in San Ramon, California said: Couldn't help but stop when I saw your question. I have been an LPN in Pennsylvania for eight years and am now an LVN in California. If you are an LVN, YOU ARE A NURSE!!!! There are some restrictions, such as you cannot administer chemo or TPN. You can administer and start IVs but you cannot push IV medications. Those are the biggest differences. There is no one holding your hand. You are responsible for patient assessments, care plans, medication records, charting, etc. In short, you are a nurse functioning under the license of an RN...but they are not babysitting you. You need to have clinical skills to insert catheters, maintaing IV lines, G/J tubes, NG tubes, trachs, ventilators, etc. And, yes, measure and administer medications, including injectables. If this makes you nervous, perhaps you should get your CNA and work in the field first to determine if this is truly your calling. Hope this helps, and good luck!

Thanks for your response. I was working as a phlebotomist and I made some log book math errors when I was logging out needles. At 43, and years of math....I'm horrible at it. I had to take Intro Algebra 3 times before I passed with a C. I would hate to make errors when dealing with peoples lives. But where in the medical field is math not such an issue?

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chefcookie1 in Los Angeles, California

46 months ago

KAT in Arlington, Texas said: In LVN school you will learn everything and then some about pharmacology and med administration. Number one thing is that you must have a physician's order to give the drug. Then the pharmacy dispenses the drug to you. Then you verify that the drug is what was ordered, the right dose, route, time, and to the right patient. Also known as the "5 rights". Controlled substances such as narcotic pain killers have to be counted and signed out. You will learn all this in school. All states allow LPN/LVNs to administer meds. Where I live, we do every route including IV pushes depending on the employer.

Thanks so much for your information! I became a phlebotomist to learn about the medical field and then transfer to an Allied Health associate degree program or LVN program but I can't seem to find a good fit:( With my horrible math skills and fear of inserting catheters, maybe the medical field isn't for me. I just feel like I could make a difference at a nursing facility for the elderly.

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jmclelland in San Ramon, California

46 months ago

I appreciate your candor regarding your fears! Don't worry, we all have first time jitters with many nursing skills...I have proctored many nursing students over the years, and assure them all of this fact. In fact, I have worked with many nurses who still have anxiety over cathing someone. I have never had a problem assisting them and can hope that you would have like-minded co-workers. I truly don't think that you need to worry about the math. The Algebra course you took is more advanced than any math you may use, especially working with the elderly. LPN math deals primarily with conversions, but unless working in pediatrics, you really don't use them much in the field...an occasional time here or there only. If working in a nursing home, the meds are packaged by pharmacy in an almost med-error proof way. As long as you take your time and are careful, it is almost impossible to make an error while using the five rights. I can assure you that you will probably never have to use math because most regs for nursing homes require that the dosages in your drawer dispensed from the pharmacy should match the physician's orders and the medication administration record. If you have children and you have ever given them medicine by reading the dosage chart on the back of the bottle, you are capable of delivering pre-packaged medicine. Other skills WILL come along the way...hope this helps. I would hate for you not to overcome your fears and be unable to experience the joys of nursing! good luck!

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chefcookie1 in Los Angeles, California

46 months ago

Thanks for your informative and encouraging message! Before I became a phlebotomist, I was very scared of needles. It is the strangest thing to me that I now enjoy drawing blood. I managed nurses when I was managing a medical spa and they answered so many of my questions and helped me with fears such as dying patients. I felt confident and began the prerequisites. They would give me vitamin b12 shots for a touch of energy. I no longer feared needles. I guess one thing I never asked was about how long it takes to get used to giving brazilian laser hair removal treatments or inserting catheters at the hospital (they were all labor and delivery nurses). Do all nurses start out just considering "private parts" anatomy or does it take a little time to get comfortable with it? These are sick people that need help so I realize mindset must play a big role in how you look at it. Did you have a good experience working with the elderly? I was told that it is really hard to get everyone their meds because you have tons of patients and you have to find them since they aren't always in their rooms. She said she quit after the first day.

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jmclelland in San Ramon, California

46 months ago

Think of the difference between the first time you inserted a needle in someone's arm to draw blood and the way it is for you now...I'm sure the first time you were shaking and a little sick...now it is like "time to make the donuts." That's pretty much the same way the human body becomes. Because of societal modesty issues, it IS a little uncomfortable the first time you work on a patient and see someone naked. However, after awhile, it really doesn't faze you anymore. The trick is to distance oneself enough to be professional while maintaining the ability to continue to be compassionate and still see a patient as a PERSON. Working with the elderly can be challenging. It is something I always swore I would never do as a nurse. However, after six years in the nursing field, an excellent oppurtunity presented itself to me and I took it, even though it was in a skilled nursing facility in the geriatric field. I actually ended up loving it!!! Your friend is right--time managment can be crucial, as you do have many more people to medicate. However, when job hunting just ask what the nurse to patient ratio is and don't take on something that makes you uncomfortable. You won't want forty patients if you are working skilled, but that may be doable in assisted living, where they recieve minimal meds. You will feel your way. Overall, I found working with the elderly extremely rewarding. What an amazing way to provide dignity and compassion to a generation of people who have incredible histories and experiences that we can learn from!!

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Mozzy in Los Angeles, California

42 months ago

I have a bit of a problem, i want to become an lvn but every schooling i go to scare me. i know im not good at math so what type of math am i dealing with here so i can study and be more secure about this field.

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jmclelland in San Ramon, California

42 months ago

Mozzy in Los Angeles, California said: I have a bit of a problem, i want to become an lvn but every schooling i go to scare me. i know im not good at math so what type of math am i dealing with here so i can study and be more secure about this field.

If you want to brush up on your math skills, I suggest that you mostly go over conversions...for example, grams to milligrams, etc. Make sure you know your metric system. The rest of the math is really just basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Good luck to you!

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sa3461 in Brownsville, Texas

40 months ago

Mozzy in Los Angeles, California said: I have a bit of a problem, i want to become an lvn but every schooling i go to scare me. i know im not good at math so what type of math am i dealing with here so i can study and be more secure about this field.

I graduated last year and had a hard time with pharm when it came to the basic math because at first you learn fractions and conversions to the metric system that I have not seen since the 3rd grade. The math you need for work is pretty much based on formulas you learn in class and really its just pluging in the numbers given for the meds you need to pass. Well, at least thats what I saw in nursing school and do now. I've always been scared of math and because of that I made it harder than it really was. So just learn basic math from grade school and then focus on learning the formulas given. You will see in clinicals that meds are dispensed for you when the patients info is entered. So, yes go by the 5 rights and don't be scared just be careful. Later on you'll learn that when in doubt to ask someone to double check.

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