Different Types of LPN Jobs and Career Paths
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LPNs can work in a wide variety of specialties and types of companies, allowing for a great deal of flexibility. While many LPNs spend their careers working at elder care facilities, there are many similar professions for LPNs in other capacities, including at hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, schools, theme parks and at individual's homes. In this article, we describe some of these places LPNs can work and what that work would involve.
What are LPN professions?
An LPN, also known as a licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse (LVN), is a type of nurse who helps patients with eating, mobility and other activities to take care of themselves. They also take vital signs, monitor patients' health, update records and administer medication.
LPNs must complete a one- or two-year college program and the licensing requirements for their state. Some LPNs also have optional certificates in specialty areas if they've decided they want to focus their career in a particular direction.
Some of the most common places for an LPN to work are at a nursing home, assisted living facility or retirement home, to assist elderly people with their care. But there are other workplaces where many LPNs can find work, including facilities that require a medical professional like an LPN to be present.
Read more: Learn How to Become an LPN
Where can LPNs and LVNs work?
Here are some places that an LPN can find work:
As mentioned above, caring for the elderly and disabled in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or retirement homes can be common work for an LPN. These are facilities that often require a lot of nursing help for patients who could need anything from regular check-ups to around-the-clock care. It's possible for an LPN to even get a certificate in gerontology, or elderly care, if that's a field they want to specialize in.
Read More: 22 Specialty Certifications for LPNs
Hospice can be one of the most challenging areas to work in, as it involves end-of-life care for patients. LPNs working in hospice may witness the loss of their patients regularly but are better able to offer comfort to patients and their loved ones. Some elder care facilities may have a hospice area or LPNs interested in working in hospice can work at hospice-only facilities.
Doctor's offices of all types can use the help of LPNs with patients and behind the scenes. LPNs working at a clinic like this can give medications, take vitals and assist with testing or move into more of a patient-facing clerical role. A few benefits of an LPN working at a doctor's offices are that the schedules are usually consistent and that an LPN interested in a particular specialty could work with a doctor in that field.
Many hospitals utilize LPNs in a variety of departments, but the emergency room is an area that hospitals frequently place LPNs in. It's a fast-paced environment, and the schedule may include overnights or other odd hours, but it can be extremely rewarding. Wound care would be a particular area of focus for LPNs working in the ER. Other hospital departments that might need LPNs include Labor and Delivery, Oncology and Pediatrics.
When a victim is injured during a crime, occasionally a forensic nurse may treat and evaluate the victim. An LPN in this field would help collect evidence from a victim's body, document and analyze injuries and may even assist a coroner in their investigation. LPNs with an interest in criminal justice and victim advocacy would be interested in this specific role.
Home health nursing
There are many people who need the assistance of an LPN at home to assist them routine healthcare activities, like administering medication, taking blood pressure, evaluating their health and caring for their mental health. LPNs interested working with fewer patients on more of a one-on-one basis could work with a home health care agency and be placed with patients who need help.
Companies with a high risk of injury among employees, like factories, employ nurses to look over employees who are injured on the job and determine additional medical care. These nurses may also educate employees on workplace safety to reduce the likelihood of injury. In this type of environment, the LPN may be working on their own, as many workplaces won't require multiple healthcare professionals to assess employees.
Insurance companies often keep LPNs on staff to help assess claims that involve medical records. For instance, a health insurance or worker's compensation insurance firm might have a department of LPNs who review the records to assist the claims adjusters in deciding on claims.
LPNs can work in clerical and administrative roles at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. They may be responsible for updating patient records and preparing patients to see the physician. These roles may not work directly with patients, but an understanding of medical situations can be very helpful in performing the duties involved.
All theme parks have a first aid station, and LPNs can be among the staff there dedicated to treating those who are injured while at a theme park. While most of these injuries are mild and don't require extensive care, having a trained medical professional like an LPN can ensure injuries are treated properly and park guests feel safe and comfortable during their time at the park.
Mental health facilities
All mental health facilities, whether a psych ward in a hospital, an addiction center or a psychiatric hospital, have to have medical care available to their patients. For this reason, these facilities often hire LPNs to assist with the care of psychiatric patients, particularly those with physical ailments, and the mental health care they require. LPNs in this role collaborate with psychiatrists to assess and care for patients with mild to severe mental health conditions.
School systems often have a nurse who care for students' ailments and injuries that arise while at school. A large part of this job includes assessing if a student is okay to return to class, if they should be sent home or if they need to seek additional medical care. The LPN in this position would need to treat minor medical issues, dress small wounds and perform regular tests on hearing and sight as needed.
Universities have a student health department where students can seek free or low-cost medical care in a doctor's office provided by the university. The work of an LPN in this type of clinic would be very similar to the work of an LPN at an urgent care or family medicine clinic, where they would take vitals, administer medications and assist doctors in the overall care of patients.
Dialysis centers are facilities where patients with kidney disease receive dialysis treatment, which is where toxins and waste are removed from the blood for patients whose kidneys don't function properly. To assist with dialysis, some LPNs work in a facility that does only dialysis, a hospital or the patient's home, focusing on readying patients for dialysis, caring for them during treatment, monitoring them and preparing them to leave after treatment. To ensure they have the proper qualifications for this role, LPNs can get a certification in IV therapy as dialysis requires an IV.
Travel nurses work at facilities all over the world, as there is great demand for nurses working temporarily to assist at understaffed hospitals and clinics. LPNs who work as travel nurses can expect to stay in one location for as little as a month. For international work, LPNs can stay in one location for up to a year, while U.S.-based travel nurses work at one facility for up to 13 weeks. For LPNs who want to travel, this is a great option.
Jails and other correctional facilities require healthcare staff to treat incarcerated people who are injured or ill. Occasionally incarcerated people who need additional treatment are transported elsewhere for care, but most correctional facilities have doctors, nurses like LPNs and other medical personal for treatment of commonly occurring issues. For juvenile detention facilities, LPNs can earn certification in pediatrics to best care for these younger incarcerated patients.
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