Licensed practical nurse (LPN) job responsibilities

Last updated: July 23, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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Licensed practical nurse (LPN) job responsibilities
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook is positive for licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Over the next ten years, the industry is set to grow by 9%, higher than most other careers.

With an aging population and increased pressure on the healthcare system, both LPNs and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) will be in high demand. If you enjoy caring for others, you may be interested in working as an LPN. But what are the top job duties? And what skills and education do you need to get a position?

In this article, we’ll tell you what an LPN does, the qualifications you need to land an LPN job, and how much you can expect to make.

What is an LPN?

An LPN is a licensed practical nurse. These healthcare professionals work under the supervision of a registered nurse. They give patients basic nursing care, such as bathing them and changing their bandages. They also keep accurate records and, in some states, administer medication.

LPNs work in a range of healthcare facilities, including doctor's offices, nursing homes, and hospitals. These are team environments, and LPNs will need to communicate effectively with doctors and other nursing staff.

LPNs usually work in shifts. These shifts can be up to ten hours long with meal breaks. LPNs may work days, nights, weekends, or a combination of all three. Some LPNs are on-call and only work when needed.

What skills and education do you need to be an LPN?

To work as an LPN, you'll need a high school diploma or equivalent. You'll also need to complete a nursing program. You can do this by studying at an approved nursing school or community college.

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The nursing program will last at least one year, and you’ll have the option to study specialized topics such as intravenous (IV) therapy or immunizations.

To legally work in the role, you'll need an LPN license. To become a certified nursing assistant, you can complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) exam.

Suppose you want to excel in the healthcare industry, you'll need excellent interpersonal skills. For example, you should have excellent communication skills, teamwork, and patience.

LPNs need empathy, flexibility, and organization. You’ll also need to be physically fit and able to stand on your feet for long hours.

Some LPNs choose to transition to registered nurses (RNs), though this will require more education. If you have experience as an LPN, it may count as recognized prior learning, shortening the length of your degree.

What are the top LPN job responsibilities?

What does an LPN do? Here are some of the top responsibilities you may find in an LPN job description:

1. Provide basic care

LPNs offer basic patient care and report to a registered nurse. They may view the patient's medical history and help with a range of tasks. For example, they may change catheters, bathe and dress patients, and make sure they’re comfortable.

LPNs may change bedsheets and get patients fresh drinking water. If the patient has a question or concern that the LPN can’t help with, they’ll tell a senior nurse or doctor.

2. Treat wounds

LPNs can provide basic wound care. Patient comfort is a top priority, and an LPN may clean, dress, or change bandages.

They look for signs of infection and make sure that wounds are healing correctly and if they notice any new injuries, such as bedsores, they can treat the issue and report it to a registered nurse.

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3. Give immunizations

​Depending on the state and their training, an LPN may be able to give immunizations and other injections. They work under the direction of a doctor and explain the process to the patient. They also update a patient’s medical records once the immunization is complete.

4. Monitor patients

LPNs are responsible for monitoring a patient's condition. They check for vital signs and make sure the patient is stable. For example, they may check blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature.

Depending on the patient, the LPN may spend their whole shift with them. Other times, they may have multiple patients that they regularly check in with.

5. Support home health

Some LPNs work in home healthcare settings. For example, they may provide nursing care in long-term care facilities, private households, and nursing homes. They may support patients who stay in their own homes by assisting them with daily tasks. For example, they may help them shower and monitor their health.

Some LPNs are employed by nursing homes and check on all of the residents. If there’s an emergency, the LPN will call an ambulance.

How much does an LPN make?

The median annual salary for LPNs is $48,820 per year or $23.47 per hour.

The rate can vary depending on the industry. For example, the average annual salary for a government worker is $51,700, and for those working in a physician's office, it's $44,830.

Top LPN resume tips

Before you apply for an LPN job, check out our top resume tips:

  • Highlight any previous experience in healthcare

  • List your work experience in chronological order

  • Read the job description carefully and tailor your resume to it

  • List your nursing certificates, licenses, and achievements

  • Check your resume for spelling errors

  • List industry references, such as your former nursing teacher

  • Give an example of a time when you had to work under pressure

  • Add soft skills such as compassion, patience, teamwork, and organization

Where can you find a job as an LPN?

Job seekers can search for new positions on Jobcase’s job board. Browse LPN vacancies and nurse practitioner vacancies in your area.

Are you ready to start your career as a registered nurse? Search for RN jobs.

Working as an LPN

If you enjoy helping others and working in a team environment, you may like to work as an LPN.

We gave you the LPN job description in this article and told you about the skills and education you need.

Our list of duties included providing basic care, treating wounds, giving immunizations, monitoring patients, and supporting home health.

We told you where you can start your job search and how much you can expect to make.

With this information, you can decide whether a healthcare career is right for you.

Ready to work? Browse Jobcase’s job board. Want more tips? Check out our Getting Hired Resource Center.

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