5 FAQs to Know About Becoming a Practical Nurse | Salter School of Allied Health and Nursing
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5 FAQs to Know About Becoming a Practical Nurse

faqs about becoming a practical nurse, practical nurse as a careerPractical nursing is a vital role in the healthcare system

If you are someone who likes to help others, the field of nursing could be a good fit for you. Choosing what kind of nurse you might want to become is a personal choice that depends on your career goals and educational goals. A practical nurse (LPN) receives more training than a nursing assistant (LNA), but is not trained at the level of a Registered Nurse (RN). Most practical nurse training programs take about one year to complete. Find out more about this career field with our Frequently Asked Questions below.

1. What do Practical Nurses Do?
Practical nurses work closely with patients, providing some of the basic care they need in their day-to-day living, such as helping them bathe and take care of personal hygiene. On a typical day, they might check patients’ vital signs, change wound dressings, communicate with the RN about a patient’s status, and update electronic records. Practical nurses may be licensed to do certain tasks in some states but not in others, depending upon the regulations of their state’s Nursing Board. For example, some states allow LPNs to give medication while others do not. Many practical nurses work in residential facilities, where they have the chance to get to know the residents and develop long-term bonds. This can be one of the very rewarding aspects of this career field.

2. Where do practical nurses works?
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, about 38% of practical nurses in the U.S. work in nursing and residential care facilities. The remainder are divided among hospitals, doctor’s offices, home health care services, and government positions.

Most practical nurses wear scrubs to work as well as comfortable, supportive shoes. In this position, you can expect to be on your feet most of the day. You may have some physically demanding responsibilities, such as helping to move or turn patients in their beds. It is important for practical nurses to follow safety precautions to avoid self-injury.

Most practical nurses work full-time, but sometimes positions are part-time. Practical nurses who work at around-the-clock facilities like nursing homes and hospitals may sometimes have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.  

3. What training is needed?
Most practical nurse training programs can be completed in less than one year. Be sure that you find a program that is approved by your state’s Board of Nursing. Most training programs will teach you the following skills and information:

  • Basic and advanced nursing skills
  • Health assessment
  • Nursing care in rehabilitation and other clinical settings
  • Common physical, cognitive, and psychosocial problems
  • Maternal and child health nursing
  • Human growth and development
  • Nutrition and nutritional needs
  • Biology and pharmacology

Once you complete your program, you will need to pass your state’s licensing exam in order to become licensed. You will not be able to accept a position as a practical nurse until you have passed your state’s licensing exam.

4. How much do LPN’s make?
The salary of LPNs can vary depending on a number of factors, such as your location, employer, and years of experience. The Occupational Outlook Handbook shows the median annual wage of LPNs across the country. Another way to get a ballpark figure is to look at job postings in your area. See if any of the postings list an entry level salary. If they do, this can give you an idea of the going rate in your region.

5. Is the job outlook positive for the future?
Practical nurses and vocational nurses have a positive job outlook, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The handbooks says, “Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

The handbook suggests that the positive outlook is due to the aging of the baby boom population and the resulting need for more residential care. The handbook also says that there could be strong job prospects for LPNs who are willing to work in medically underserved areas, such as rural areas.

We hope this article has been useful to you as you begin to map out your new career. The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health is proud to offer a Practical Nursing training program at our campus in Manchester, New Hampshire. Contact us for more information on how to become a practical nurse.