dcsimg

What Does a Licensed Professional Nurse Do?


Licensed practical nurses, called licensed vocational nurses in California and Texas, help provide patient care under the supervision of either registered nurses or physicians. There are some differences in LPN supervision and LPN duties by state, but there is general agreement about most of their work.

Licensed practical nurses provide direct patient care and record information. They report back to nurses or physicians. They are the most hands-on part of the team, also the ones who communicate information about a patient to other providers.

LPNs can provide basic nursing care in a hospital setting. In the hospital, they record vital signs, including temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. They take care of the patient directly, by changing wound or surgical dressings, applying hot and cold compresses, giving massages and alcohol rubs, and administering enemas when necessary. Practical nurses clean and assemble equipment for patient use, including necessary equipment for oxygen therapy, intravenous therapy, and indwelling catheters. LPNs collect samples for lab tests, and do simple tests themselves. Some states allow them to start intravenous lines, some do not. Some states let them give oral and injectable medications, some do not. Practical nurses might help doctors or registered nurses do procedures. In some areas they help deliver and take care of babies. Duties vary not just by state but also depend on where the LPN is working.

They can be on intravenous therapy teams, and learn other special procedures so they can work in critical care settings.

In all cases they keep meticulous records about their patients' condition. They note the amount of fluids taken in and going out, how much food the patient is eating, and the condition of the patient's wound or surgical site. They recognize, record, and report any changes in the patient's condition and any adverse reaction to treatment. They record any medication administered, and how much oxygen is being used.

LPNs also provide patients with assistance in some day-to-day activities of daily living. They can help patients who cannot walk very much with range of motion exercises. They assist patients as they walk and go to the bathroom. They may bathe patients, and help dress them. They may help feed patients.

There are additional tasks hospital LPNs can do, if they get extra training and certification. They can be on intravenous therapy teams, and learn other special procedures so they can work in critical care settings.

In a doctor's office, an LPN may take and record patients' medical histories and report them to the physician. They may help with insurance forms and other paperwork. They will also record vital signs in an office setting. They may do other tasks similar to what they do in the hospital, such as clean and dress wounds. They often help educate patients and their families. They also may make appointments and help keep records.

In nursing homes, LPNs help devise plans for residents based on their needs. Experienced LPNs may supervise nurses' aides. They supervise or deliver most of the care in a nursing home. When working in patients' homes, practical nurses will teach family members how to do some of what the patients need. They might also help prepare appropriate meals, taking the patient's illness and condition into account.

Wherever they work, licensed practical nurses do the things a lot of people think of as nursing. They are often called "angels in comfortable shoes."

Schools offering LPN Programs

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
University of Phoenix , Online (campus option available)
  • Phoenix Career Services™ help students find careers that match their interests & map out a personalized career plan.
  • Mentorships & networking opportunities available through Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Flexible start date and class schedules.
  • 100+ locations and online options.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Students can earn credits for applicable military training and education.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Collaborates with Starbucks to provide its partners the opportunity to finish their bachelor's degree with full tuition reimbursement
  • Ranked one of the country’s top universities for undergraduate education in The Princeton Review’s 2014 edition of “The Best 378 Colleges.”
  • Named a “best buy” among public colleges and universities for 2015 by Fiske Guide to Colleges.
  • Their Quality Matters (QM) peer-review process ensures that online courses include meaningful interaction between instructors and students.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
4 Program(s) Found
Concorde , Portland
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1994.
  • Designated as a 2015 Top Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Currently offers over 20 degree and diploma programs in Healthcare.
  • 16 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
4 Program(s) Found
West Coast University , Online (campus option available)
  • Began in 1909 as a single classroom in Los Angeles.
  • Offers no-cost dental clinic in Anaheim, where students gain experience by offering a selection of free dental services.
  • Involved in philanthropy, through partnerships with several organizations, such as the California Institute for Nursing and Healthcare (CINHC) and Shriner’s Hospital.
  • Accredited by The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission.
  • 4 California campuses and 2 other campuses in Florida and Texas.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
4 Program(s) Found
  • Founded in 1937, originally established as the American Institute of Commerce.
  • Some campuses host low-cost medical and dental clinics, where students can get real-world experience.
  • Part of the Kaplan Higher Education Campuses (KHEC).
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1976.
  • Campus-specific accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
  • 16 campus locations across the United States.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid