What do LPNs do? Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic direct patient care under the supervision of registered nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals. A LPN job description often includes a variety of tasks to provide assistance for injured, ill, disabled, and other patients throughout a range of different healthcare environments.
Not only do licensed practical nurses provide medical care to patients, they provide invaluable support for healthcare professionals. LPNs must complete an accredited vocational training program and pass an obtain a license to begin practicing in the profession.
Licensed Practical Nurse Duties:
- Monitor patients’ health by measuring vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse rate, and temperature
- Administer basic patient care, such as changing bandages, dressing wounds, inserting catheters, and collecting bodily fluids for laboratory analysis
- Ensure optimal comfort for patients by assisting with daily hygiene needs, including bathing, dressing, eating, and walking
- Communicate with patients about their health care concerns
- Maintain detailed records on patients’ treatment, progress, and overall health
- Report patients’ status to registered nurses, doctors, and other involved medical professionals
- Administer medications and intravenous (IV) drips
- Educate patients’ families on how to provide necessary care for their injured or ill loved ones
Since medical care is highly regulated, each state has its own regulations about what exact tasks a LPN can complete, so the job description often varies depending on the state of employment. For instance, some licensed practical nurses receive training to administer medication and start intravenous (IV) drips, while other states disallow LPNs from this practice.
State regulations also dictate the extent to which doctors and registered nurses must supervise LPNs. However, experienced licensed practical nurses have the ability to oversee and provide direction to other LPNs, LVNs, or unlicensed medical assistants and staff.
Licensed practical nurses are often employed in nursing homes, residential care facilities, hospitals, private group homes, clinics, and physician’s offices. Duties of LPNs tend to vary, depending on the setting in which they are employed. For example, licensed practical nurses in neonatology units may help to deliver, provide care for, and feed newborn babies.
Others that work in nursing homes or residential facilities may provide assistance for elderly patients with hygiene, eating, and using medical equipment for transportation. LPNs often have to help lift patients that have difficulty walking, standing, and getting out of bed. Although these duties can be stressful, licensed practical nurses lead a rewarding profession of direct patient care and are vital members of the health care team.