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Where Do Licensed Practical Nurses Work?


In general terms, licensed practical nurses, also called licensed vocational nurses in California and Texas, can work anywhere that there are patients who need care. That would include doctors' offices, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and individual patients' homes. More specifically, where licensed practical nurses work varies from state to state, and even depends on the area within a state where they live. There has been a trend for many years to stop hiring licensed practical nurses for hospital work, and there are areas of the country where they do not work in hospitals. They tend to be the main workforce of nursing homes, where they even hold supervisory positions.

The highest concentration of practical nurses is in Louisiana, followed by Arkansas, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Mississippi. The metropolitan areas with the most LPNs are in Abilene, Texas; Dothan, Alabama; Sandusky, Ohio; Lawton, Oklahoma; and Utica-Rome, New York.

Statistics from the National Labor Bureau indicate that in 2006, there were 749,000 licensed practical nurses working across the United States. 26% of them worked in hospitals. Those practical nurses who do work in hospitals can work just about anywhere, including the emergency room, medical and surgical units, labor and delivery, orthopedics, pediatrics, and geriatrics. In 2006, 26% worked in nursing care facilities (nursing homes), and 12% in physicians' offices. Smaller numbers of LPNs worked for home healthcare agencies, employment services (who provide temporary staffing on an urgent basis), residential care facilities, community care facilities for the elderly (adult day care), outpatient clinics, and local, state and federal government offices. Licensed practical nurses can also work in the Army Reserve, in industrial/occupational health settings, in schools, and in mental health and hospice facilities. They can find jobs in dialysis centers, blood banks, and correctional facilities (prisons).

This is a dramatic change. In the past, the overwhelming majority of licensed practical nurses worked in the hospital. For example, in 1982, 62% of licensed practical nurses were employed in hospitals. In 1982, only 15% of LPNs worked in nursing homes. In some states, licensed practical nurses can work under the supervision of dentists and podiatrists. That would mean they could work in dental offices and in podiatrists' offices, both of which are outpatient settings.

There is a large difference in the number of licensed practical nurses in different states. Of course larger states have more of almost all types of workers. But there are also some states that restrict LPNs more than other states, and/or they do not pay as well as other states. There are also undoubtedly regional differences in attitudes towards licensed practical nurses. Although Illinois has a higher population than Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania employs almost one-and-a-half times more LPNs. Georgia, with about 9.6 million people, has more licensed practical nurses than Illinois, where more than 12.9 million people live. The highest concentration of practical nurses is in Louisiana, followed by Arkansas, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Mississippi. The metropolitan areas with the most LPNs are in Abilene, Texas; Dothan, Alabama; Sandusky, Ohio; Lawton, Oklahoma; and Utica-Rome, New York.

Licensed practical nurses looking for jobs post messages on job forum boards that make it very clear how regional the work really is as of 2009. There are jobs to be found, but probably not in hospitals in some areas. However, LPNs do quite well in nursing and convalescent homes (residential care facilities), where they can be supervisors. They are also generally paid higher wages in residential care facilities.

Schools offering LPN Programs

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