What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

We all know of and tend to feel some familiar comfort when it comes to the general term, “nurse,” but what exactly is a licensed practical nurse, or LPN? Today’s LPN is as integral a part to countless medical practices and establishments as any profession could really be. For more info on this life-saving and people-fixing career, read on.

General Job Description

Per their daily duties, licensed practical nurses work in close conjunction with doctors and other medical professionals or at times, largely alone. Despite affiliation variations, the LPN always works with patients in maintaining or improving matters of their individual health. This can be done in any number of ways and environs but always involves hands-on, intimate business and relationships with the patient.

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Places Employed and the People Affected

Today’s LPN can be found working in a greater variety of places than at any other time in history. Many work in typical hospitals. Others work in smaller doctor’s offices, surgery centers, and outpatient medical establishments. In addition to these places, some LPNs even work at patients’ homes or in travel-based venues.

If you have ever sought medical care of any sort, you have already likely worked with an LPN that was assigned to your case. LPNs work with children, teens, and adults, the healthy, the mentally and physically ill, old and young, the drug-addicted, handicapped, and virtually all other walks of life. If it involves medical care, an LPN is probably there.

Conceptual Knowledge

For a more in-depth view of the hands-on duties and skills required of licensed practical nurses, we can gain a lot from looking to a list of some of their specific activities. Below are just some of the concepts an LPN must understand and administer at any given time.

  • Dispense medicine in-office.
  • Prescribe medicine in some states.
  • Talk to and question patients with regard to health matters.
  • Diagnose health problems.
  • Provide viable solution options to patients.
  • Feed, dress, and bathe those unable.
  • Provide monitoring such as for diabetes, blood pressure, vital statistics, and more.
  • Maintain and utilize patient records per necessity.
  • Treat wounds and injuries via dressings, support systems, cleaning, and all other necessary manners.
  • Collect medical samples.
  • Collaborate with doctors, other medical professionals, and administration for aligned efforts and effective outcomes in patient treatment.

Many of these details and others related to LPN job duties can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics web page devoted to the matter.

LPN VS. Doctor

There are so many ways in which LPNs play a vital role in any patient’s health and medical treatment. This is true to the extent that even the line between the LPN and doctor can understandably become blurred. To draw some important distinctions here though, one must realize the differences in what a doctor can do versus what is allowed of the LPN. The following are some of the most important of those distinctions.

  • Doctors need not practice under the oversight of another medical provider. LPNs must operate under some degree of oversight and affiliation with a doctor or registered nurse.
  • Depending on the state, doctors may be the only party able to write prescriptions.
  • The licensure of a doctor allows them to operate and oversee the most advanced procedures independently, whereas LPNs cannot solely operate in such a way.
  • Doctors may run practices while LPNs cannot.
  • LPNs are subject to states’ variances in the allowance of their administration of certain anesthesia and IV-related procedures.

LPNs play a critical part in an overwhelming portion of today’s medical field. In fact, it’s much more difficult to identify a patient-based medical service that does not utilize these professionals than those that do. These are the basics of this important medical vocation, but for additional details on the world of the licensed practical nurse today, visit the information-filled BLS link to the vocation here.