Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

What Is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), care for patients under the direction of physicians and registered nurses (RNs). On the scale of nurses, they are in between nurse aides and RNs in terms of responsibilities and education.

LPNs generally handle the bedside care of patients in hospital or nursing home settings. They may have nurse assistants helping them in their duties, which could include:

  • Recording patients’ vital signs
  • Giving injections and enemas
  • Exercising patients
  • Dressing wounds
  • Giving massages
  • Collecting specimens
  • Applying compresses
  • Performing routine laboratory tests
  • Recording food and fluid intake and output
  • Assembling and using equipment such as catheters, tracheotomy tubes and oxygen supplies
  • Helping physicians and RNs perform tests and procedures
  • Helping to care for infants
  • Monitoring and reporting on patients’ status
  • Teaching family members about patient care
  • Helping to evaluate patients’ needs
  • Supervising nursing assistants

Besides in hospitals and nursing homes, licensed practical nurses may work in physicians’ offices, assisted living facilities or in patients’ homes. Click to find out how to become an LPN.

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