Licensed Vocational Nurse LVN

Licensed Vocational Nurse LVN is what practical nurses are called in the states of California and Texas. LVN nurses care for those who are sick, injured, disabled, and convalescent. A Licensed Vocational Nurse generally works under the direction of a Doctor or a Registered Nurse. Often times a Licensed Vocational Nurse will supervise one or more nursing assistants.

  • LVN vocational nursing programs generally last about 1 year.
  • LVN designation is obtained by passing a state approved exam.
  • LVN jobs exceed 719,900 and are growing at 1.6% per year.
  • LVN average salary is $42,490 per year or $20.43 per hour.

As a nursing career, Licensed Vocational Nurse falls in the middle between the Nursing Assistant and the Registered Nurse. One way to think of vocational nursing is to consider that a LVN generally performs routine bedside care in contrast to a Registered Nurse who may be involved in the review, teaching, and planning of patient care.

Duties Of A Licensed Vocational Nurse

Licensed Vocational Nurses most often work at nursing homes, hospitals, physician offices, and home healthcare services. Licensed vocational nursing duties in a hospital vary by department, shift, nursing care philosophy, and hospital specific procedures. New vocational nurses will undergo a nursing orientation period designed to help them learn and understand their daily routines. A few of the well known hospital departments where LVN and other nurses work are the Emergency Room (ER), Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Cardiac Care Unit (CCU), Obstetrics & Gynecology, Operating Room (OR), and Outpatient.

A Licensed Vocational Nurse working at a hospital or nursing home may perform these basic duties: Measure and record patient information such as height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. Dress wounds, insert catheters, monitor catheters, give enemas, injections, collect samples, and perform laboratory tests. Basic bedside patient care to help keep the patient comfortable such as assisting with bathing, moving inside and outside of the bed, and personal hygiene. LVN nurses may feed patients who need help, and record food and fluid intake for example. Observations and information gathered by the LVN is generally reviewed by a registered nurse, doctor, and facility staff.

Vocational nurses often stand for long periods of time. A 40 hour work week is typical, however, shifts at facilities that require 24 hour care may be split into morning, day, and night, with the frequent need to fill weekends and holidays. Medical environment hazards include the presence of disease, the use of chemicals, injections, possible radiation exposure, and injury if providing direct patient care to patients who are confused or uncooperative. During times of patient overload at a hospital, for example, workload related stress can also be present for a Licensed Vocational Nurse.

How To Become A Licensed Vocational Nurse

To become a Licensed Vocational Nurse, you must complete a state approved vocational nursing program, then pass the state's licensing exam. Vocational nursing programs generally last about 1 year and are offered by vocational nursing schools, technical schools, and community colleges. The applicable license exam for all U.S. states is the NCLEX-PN, which was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The NCLEX-PN exam is computer based and covers 4 subject areas: (1) Safe Effective Care Environment, (2) Health Promotion and Maintenance, (3) Psychosocial Integrity, and (4) Physiological Integrity.

State government guidelines vary as to the minimum number of hours required for classroom and clinical training. Always remember to verify that your vocational nursing program is approved by your state board of nursing, otherwise you may not be able to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam or obtain a vocational nursing license.

Aside from the training requirements, LVN candidates should be caring and sympathetic by nature. In other words, if you are easily agitated by others, then becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse may not be your best career choice. Caring for the sick, injured, disabled and convalescent can drain novice nurses emotionally. If you currently suffer from depression or drug addiction, for example, then vocational nursing may not be your best career choice.

LVN candidates should not be squeamish and afraid to interact with patients in a medical setting. Good decision making and communication skills are also required given the amount of interaction between the LVN nurse, patients, patients' family, nurses, doctors, and other medical facility staff.

Licensed Vocational Nurse Job Prospects

Licensed Vocational Nurse jobs are expected to grow faster than average through 2024 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Licensed Vocational Nurse employees together with Licensed Vocational Nurse employees hold approximately 719,900 jobs according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition. The reported average hourly pay is $20.43 per hour for a Vocational Nurse. LVN average salary is $42,490 per year assuming a 40 hour work week.

The state in which you live, the industry for which you work, and your experience level will greatly impact your hourly wage rate or annual average salary as a Licensed Vocational Nurse. The latest 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the lowest 10% of Vocational Nurse employees earned less than $15.21 per hour while the highest 10% earned more than $28.23 per hour. Assuming a 40 hour work week and 52 weeks per year, the annual average salary for a LVN is in the range of $31,640 to $58,710 per year.

The industries listed below currently employ the most vocational nurses.

  • Nursing and residential care facilities: 38%
  • Hospitals: 17%
  • Physician offices: 13%
  • Home healthcare services: 11%
  • Government: 7%
  • Other: 14%

The difference between a nursing care facility and a residential care facility is the level of assistance offered to the patient. A nursing care facility can be thought of as a nursing home which provides constant medical supervision. A residential care facility can be thought of as an apartment style complex, which provides room, board, housekeeping, and assistance with basic activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and walking.

Licensed Vocational Nursing Programs

LVN state licensure restrictions alongside employer policies and procedures generally limit what duties a Licensed Vocational Nurse can perform. While exploring a career as a Licensed Vocational Nurse, we recommend that you visit and talk to LVN nurses or a hiring manager currently working at a nearby hospital, nursing, or residential care facility.

Before you enroll into a vocational nursing program, search for current Licensed Vocational Nurse jobs online for your intended state(s) of employment. Doing so provides real-time job descriptions, entry level job requirements, minimum education, degree requirements, and sometimes annual LVN salary information.

Finally, search our nursing schools database for Licensed Vocational Nursing programs in your preferred state(s) of employment. Take note of each LVN nursing programs length of study, cost of attendance, accreditation (local vs national), and competitiveness.

Last updated: February 19, 2017

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