Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), or Licensed Vocational Nurse, is responsible for providing basic medical attention to patients and assessing their wellbeing as part of a larger medical team. Their duties include checking vital signs, recording a patient’s medical history and assisting patients with hygiene.

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Licensed Practical Nurse duties and responsibilities

Licensed Practical Nurses assist medical staff in caring for patients. They have the following responsibilities:

  • Monitor patient’s vitals and record them in their file
  • Maintain the cleanliness and comfort of each patient, including bathing, feeding and dressing
  • Assist nursing and medical staff with basic medical tasks, such as administering medication
  • Update patient records in a confidential manner
  • Evaluate the patient’s wellbeing, reporting any needs to medical staff
  • Explain treatments and procedures to patients and families 
  • Change dressings and bandages, ensuring patients are healing properly
  • Move patients from wheelchairs, beds and gurneys

What does a Licensed Practical Nurse do?

LPNs work in medical environments such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes. rehabilitation centers and in-home care agencies to administer routine care, identify health problems and improve a patient’s quality of life through healthcare. LPNs work under the direct supervision of a more experienced Registered Nurse and record all patient interactions to develop thorough documentation about their care. They help prepare patients for procedures and assist with routine recovery care after initial treatment. LPNs usually work with several patients at once and administer care according to a schedule, upholding medical routines and procedures.

Licensed Practical Nurse skills and qualifications

Licensed Practical Nurses typically need certain skills, including:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Good time management and organization 
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to lift and move patients
  • Excellent teamwork and collaboration skills
  • Extensive knowledge of basic health care procedures
  • Knowledge in measuring and administering medication
  • Ability to walk or stand for long periods of time

Licensed Practical Nurse Salary Expectations

An LPN makes an average of $24.31 per hour and $7,750 per year in overtime. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Licensed Practical Nurse education and training requirements

LPNs need a state license in order to work. To earn a license, individuals need to complete a certification program where they undergo classroom lectures and clinical rotations. These programs usually last one or two years. After completing the program, students need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination- Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and apply for a license with their state’s licensing board. 

Licensed Practical Nurse experience requirements

Licensed Practical Nurses get clinical experience during their educational programs. Additional training may be needed depending on the requirements of the position. Entry-level LPNs work closely with more experienced Licensed Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses until they are educated on the role’s expectations. With additional experience, LPNs can specialize in areas like hospice care, breastfeeding support or urology. Depending on the specialization, LPNs need at least six months of experience before applying for the certification. 

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Frequently asked questions about Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)s

 

What is the difference between a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a Registered Nurse (RN)?

LPNs and RNs are both nursing professionals but they have different levels of training that qualify them to provide certain types of care. LPNs and RNs both seek professional certification but LPNs usually go through about one year of training while RNs need at least an associate’s degree in nursing. RNs can provide a level of independent medical care while LPNs require supervision and don’t make direct decisions about a patient’s care. LPNs focus more on routine maintenance tasks and long-term care activities while RNs work on higher-level treatment plans and handle basic procedures.

 

What are the daily duties of a Licensed Practical Nurse?

LPNs can work daytime or overnight shifts and may also have a regular on-call schedule. On a typical day, a LPN checks their schedule to confirm which patients they need to visit and what materials they need to provide care, such as medications, food and water, clean clothes or new dressings for wounds. LPNs consult with the lead nurse on any changes in a care plan or schedule and communicate with patients and their families about their care plan. They visit patients and help them eat and drink, change bed pans, inset cathaters, replace bandages and help them bathe.

 

What are the characteristics of a good Licensed Practical Nurse?

Good LPNs are naturally caring, empathetic and focused on providing the best quality of life possible for every patient in their care. They are friendly and sociable, able to provide comfort and friendship to patients in long-term or hospice care. Successful LPNs are detail-oriented and notice any changes in a patient’s condition so they can report back to the care team. They can follow instructions closely and have a good memory that helps them keep track of each patient’s medications, dietary needs and other directions for specialized care.

 

What should you look for an a LPN's resume?

When reviewing resumes for a LPN position, check that they received their certification from a program that meets your state’s qualifications. They should have some form of hands-on experience providing care, either through a clinical rotation, on-the-job training through their nursing program or experience as a private carer. Strong resumes showcase familiarity with medical routines and a focus on patient satisfaction.

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