Types of Work Environments of an LPN

LPNs licenses allow a nurse to work in several different environments. Different institutions emphasize different aspects of an LPN’s skill set. It is a good idea to explore each of the major institutions to get a perspective on what is expected.

Hospital

In hospitals, LPNs are only part of the nursing staff. Here LPNs work with lab workers, technicians, nurse aides, registered nurses, and doctors. Hospitals are often divided into units. LPNs are more likely to be found in medical surgical units, rehabilitation wards, and hospital clinics. They are paired with RNs or supervised by one. Hospital employers tend to prefer hiring LPNs who are enrolled or are planning to enroll in an RN program. These LPNs tend to have a high degree of nursing skill level which the employer sees as an opportunity to develop an RN that will be at a high level of proficiency for the facility. RNs and LPNs tend to work well together since their skill sets complement each other.

Long-term Care Facilities

Long-term care facilities are the major employers of LPNs. Long-term care facilities provide services which meet medical and nonmedical needs of people with chronic illness or disability. At these places of employment, the duties associated with LPN jobs are much broader and more varied. In long-term care facilities, virtually all nursing staff members are LPNs. Medicare does require certain functions to be done by an RN, but those duties are few. LPNs in this work environment often supervise nurse aides, perform IV care, and administer medications depending on that state’s laws.

Public Health

LPN jobs in the public health setting are varied. The jobs are located in schools, health centers, health departments and clinics, and non-profit organizations. Public health professionals' emphasis is on education and preventing disease. Public health often involves clinic work, education of a specific population, immunizations, etc. These jobs tend to be less about patient care and more about implementing local, state, and national health initiatives. Job duties, amount of supervision, and pay vary widely.

LPNs generally can work anywhere RNs are employed. The difference is that state statutes limit the functions an LPN can perform. LPN licenses are broad, and over a lifetime, an LPN has many different career options he or she can explore.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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