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The Career Outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses

According to The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010, The number of jobs for LPNs is growing, as are jobs in the entire healthcare industry. With the aging of the “baby boomers,” more and more nurses are going to be needed to take care of them. Advances in medicine have allowed people with many medical problems to live longer, but they will often need medical care at home or in extended care facilities (nursing homes). As the most hands-on nurse type of nurse, an LPN will be able to take care of many of these needs.

The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010, compiles data on the number of jobs in all fields, and projects future demand. The job prospects for LPNs are very good, with employment growth greater than average. In the future, more jobs are expected to be available in extended nursing-care facilities and home health nursing than in hospitals. Whereas in the past patients stayed in the hospital for longer periods after surgery and illness, they are discharged earlier now, and this trend will continue. While the LPNs may not have as many jobs in hospitals, they will be in demand to take care of the patients who have been discharged early. This would include patients sent to intermediary care facilities (between a hospital and a nursing home), extended care facilities, or their own homes.

The job prospects for LPNs are very good, with employment growth greater than average.In 2010, there were an estimated 752,300 LPNs/LVNs in the United States. By 2020, that number is expected to rise to 920,800. The availability of jobs will vary by state and within each state. In some areas, LPNs are still working in hospitals. In other areas, they are not.

There seems to be a cyclical trend in nursing to restrict the practice of LPNs, and keep them out of hospitals. It is connected to the desire to see all nurses, but especially hospital nurses, receive more education. The thinking goes that LPNs should become RNs. The nursing groups advocating this want all RNs to have their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They also want RNs to go on to get advanced degrees. In this scenario, LPNs do not work in hospitals, but RNs do. Instead of supervising LPNs, they supervise medical assistants, who have less training and work for less money. LPNs that have been working for a long time say that they have been hearing the idea that they should not work in hospitals repeatedly over at least the last 20 to 30 years. Whether or not this will actually be legislated, mandated or even just generally agreed upon by hospital management is unclear. However, it is the reason for the predictions that less LPNs will be working in hospitals.

It is possible that there may be an increased need for licensed practical nurses to replace those who retire. LPNs working in hospitals now can sometimes continue their education in LPN-to-RN programs. Certain employers provide tuition assistance to qualifying staff.  Check with your human resource department to find out if you are elligible for any tuition assistance benefits.

No matter how policies change, it is clear that the demand for LPNs will continue to increase.

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