What is a Vocational Nurse?

“What is an LVN?” A Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) is an entry-level health care provider who generally works directly with an RN (Registered Nurse) or doctor, and handles a wide variety of day-to-day patient care duties. Since LVNs are usually closer to the patients, and more aware of their individual statuses and requirements than almost every other caregiver, they are always in demand and are considered one of the most-essential members of any health care team. Hospitals, private practices, and long-term care facilities all depend to a great extent upon well-trained teams of Licensed Vocational Nurses in order to keep things moving smoothly and to properly tend to their patients’ needs.

Just What Are The Duties of an LVN?

Collecting samples, dressing wounds, feeding and bathing patients, taking and documenting vital signs, and monitoring medical equipment are only a few of the many duties that an LVN usually performs. While the limitations differ from state to state, LVNs are usually not allowed to do such things as push IV medications (though they are allowed to start IVs just about everywhere) or administer patients any other kinds of medicines unless expressly ordered by a physician or Rn.

How Do You Become an LVN?

The initial step toward being a Licensed Vocational Nurse is to enroll in, and successfully complete the necessary hours of training in an LVN program accredited by your state’s licensing body. In California for example, the curricular requirements for an LVN program to get fully-accredited consist of 1,530 total hours of study broken down into 576 hours of Theory, 954 hours of Clinical study, and 54 hours of Pharmacology. Course material must also include: Anatomy and Physiology, Psychology, Pharmacology, Nursing Process, Communication, Patient Education, Nutrition, Normal Growth and development, Rehabilitation Nursing, Maternity Nursing, Nursing Fundamentals, Pediatric Nursing, Medical/Surgical Nursing, Gerontological Nursing, Supervision, Leadership, and Communicable Disease including HIV.

Entry requirements for the majority of LVN programs stipulate that the applicant is a minimum of 17 years of age and holds a high school diploma or equivalency (e.g. a GED), and are reasonably representative of what is required by programs in other states.

After completing your training program, the next (and most critical) step toward becoming an LVN is to obtain your license. Getting licensed requires you to successfully pass a standardized examination known as the NCLEX-PN, which is a multiple-choice test designed to confirm your understanding of the following four things:

Effective and safe care environment Health promotion and maintenance Psychosocial integrity Fundamentals of physiological integrity

How Much Do LVNs Make?

There are several factors that go into determining how much an LVN’s salary will be, but the average range in 2011 was $13.90 – $26.50 per hour (or $28,912 to $55,120 per year) according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average LVN salary may vary greatly based on which area of the state a person works in, which type of facility he or she works at, and how much practical experience he or she has.

What Does Tomorrow Look Like for this Vocation?

As the “Baby Boomer” segment of the American population enters its Golden Years during the next two decades, many new LVN positions will be created by the accompanying expansion of the health care industry. To illustrate the effect of this event on the labor market, in California health care facilities will have to hire over 150,000 new Licensed Vocational Nurses over the next seven years to keep up with industry growth. If you are interested in embarking on a fast-paced, challenging career as an LVN, the future is so bright that you may need to wear sunglasses.

Are you still trying to answer what is an LVN? The author’s site on LVN programs in California answers that question and many more!

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