Licensed vocational nurses provide a mixture of basic clinical care and day-to-day assistance to patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and residences. They work under the direction of registered nurses and physicians to carry out patients' care plans. On the clinical side, LVNs may take a patient's vital signs, give injections, and help doctors perform particular tests. For daily care, licensed vocational nurses may prepare meals for patients or instruct patients on good health strategies. Depending on where they are employed, some LVNs also perform administrative duties, such as answering the phone or scheduling appointments.
The most common educational preparation for the licensed vocational nursing career is a certificate program. One-year certificate programs are offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and allied health organizations. In these programs, future LVNs learn their clinical competencies through rounds in a healthcare facility; they also spend time in the classroom, studying pharmacology, medical science, and nursing strategies for different patient populations. The title "licensed vocational nurse" is often used interchangeably with the title "licensed practical nurse"; while both types of nurses carry out similar duties and pass a licensing exam, LPNs are nurses who have specifically taken the NCLEX-PN exam.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job market for licensed vocational nurses will be solid in the coming years as the Baby Boom population ages. This large elderly population will increase the demand for trained LVNs in nursing care facilities and with home healthcare agencies. The middle half of licensed vocational nurses earn $33,000-47,000 a year, with average wage of $39,000.
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