10 Different Healthcare Settings for LPNs
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Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic nursing care in a variety of settings. Typically working under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or physician, they fulfill a vital role in assisting other medical professionals. While somewhat limited in their responsibilities, LPNs have numerous options that place them in the center of various medical settings.
This guide explores 10 different healthcare settings available to LPNs and the responsibilities of their role in each workplace.
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Where Do LPNs Work?
As an LPN, you can choose from a variety of work settings. Whether you are looking for a fast-paced or slow-paced environment, or a specific area of medicine, there are options to match your personal skills and professional goals.
The choice in setting can help you pursue a more specialized LPN role, prepare you for RN licensure, or simply experience a satisfying career. The following list provides an overview of some possible workplaces for LPNs.
Nursing Homes and Residential Care Facilities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that 35% of LPNs work in nursing homes and residential care facilities, making them the most common employer for this level of nursing. Under the supervision of the head RN, LPNs direct bedside care, which involves assisting in the day-to-day care of residents, administering medication, monitoring vitals, and helping patients with daily tasks.
More specifically, LPNs take and monitor vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and oxygen level. You may also find yourself inserting IVs, applying bandages, inserting catheters, and recording any changes in the patient's health. To assist with these responsibilities, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide LPNs with help performing some of their daily tasks.
Hospitals are the next most common employer for LPNs at 15%, according to the BLS. If you work in a large hospital, you can try different areas to see which one suits you, whether inpatient or outpatient, pediatrics, surgery, or other specialties. In this role, you'll help patients with daily living activities, such as eating, sitting up, and grooming and support RNs and other clinicians. You might also administer medications, insert catheter and intravenous lines, and reinforce patient teaching.
LPNs work as part of an interdisciplinary team and can receive mentorship from RNs. Many hospitals are eager to invest in their clinical staff, so your employer might help you pursue further education to become an RN. However, sometimes an LPN performs the same duties as a certified nursing assistant since their scope of practice is limited.
Home Healthcare Services
Home healthcare is growing, offering more home health nurse opportunities. This growth results from a combination of new technology for remote monitoring and the increased awareness that aging at home is more comfortable and often cheaper. Nearly as many LPNs (14%) work in home healthcare as those who work in hospitals.
LPNs carry out the care plan created by the RN. Common duties include wound care, administering medicine, teaching patients and caregivers about treatment, drawing blood, and urinary catheter care. You also assist patients with daily activities and help monitor their well-being. Working in home health allows you to have a flexible schedule with the option to work independently.
However, almost all home healthcare LPNs work for an agency rather than as independent contractors. LPNs are typically paid by case and not hourly, so salary is based on the number of patients seen (not the hours worked). Driving from home to home is also a factor.
According to the BLS, the fourth most common workplace setting for LPNs is physicians' offices. Working in a doctor's office provides a slower-paced environment when compared to that of a hospital or clinic. LPNs in this setting benefit from a set schedule, generally without night and weekend hours. Typically, LPNs receive major holidays off work.
In a physician's office, LPNs work under the supervision of the office's primary RN and physician. While specific tasks vary by type of practice, LPNs provide basic nursing care. General responsibilities include recording patients' medical histories, taking vitals (e.g., temperature, blood pressure, heart rate), administering certain vaccinations, or performing administrative tasks, such as setting future appointments.
Government facilities, including correctional facilities, Veterans Administration departments, and military bases, employ 7% of LPNs, according to the BLS. Government facilities provide a variety of LPN career options and offer good benefits, such as retirement plans. Many government employers include financial aid for nursing education in their benefits.
As in other settings, your work includes supporting clinical staff and assisting patients. Like physicians' offices, there is typically little room for professional growth.
LPNs have the option of working under the supervision of a school nurse or other clinician at a public or private school. Because LPNs do not have their RN license, most schools do not allow them to fill the role of the primary school nurse.
The main responsibility of an LPN within a school would be to treat minor medical issues (e.g., dress wounds), determine if students need additional care or treatment, perform regular testing of the students' hearing and sight, and make sure vaccination records are up-to-date.
In a clinic, LPNs support other nurses, practitioners, and clinicians under the supervision of either an RN or a physician. Responsibilities vary by the type of clinic — general or specialty.
LPNs treat patients of all genders, ages, and ailments in a general clinic. However, a specialty clinic could require treating a certain population more than others (i.e., infant care, oncology, and cardiology).
Regardless of the type of clinic, general duties for LPNs include taking and monitoring vitals, dispensing medication, performing injections, and scheduling appointments.
Hospice nurse care, like nursing home care, is one of the most rewarding yet emotionally demanding career options for LPNs. Hospice care serves patients who are expected to live six months or less, either in their homes or at a hospice facility. Another end of life care nursing is palliative nursing which serves those who have a longer life expectancy.
Because hospice care emphasizes caring for the whole patient, including psychological and spiritual needs, this job calls for great empathy and communication skills.
Insurance companies hire LPNs to assist with claims reviews and processing cases. With the rise of telework, this is one of the few LPN career options that can be done mostly or entirely from home. It is considered one of the least stressful nursing jobs. Because you'll be working with a variety of software, you'll need to be comfortable with technology. This healthcare job option does not involve any direct patient care.
Traveling LPNs can work in a variety of roles and settings. Depending on where you live and the agency that you work for, you might work temporary jobs within one particular geographic area or across the country, especially in areas with nursing shortages. If you work shorter assignments, you might not feel the same rapport that you do with colleagues that you've gotten to know over time, but it is a great way to see the country and explore different options.
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