What to Expect: A Day in the Life of a Licensed Practical Nurse

An LPN, or licensed practical nurse, is a nursing role that puts you into the thriving medical industry. Before you decide whether to pursue a career as an LPN, it’s helpful to know what your day-to-day life on the job would be like. This guide shows you what to expect from a day in the life of an LPN, from job responsibilities to work environments.

Job Responsibilities and Requirements

The LPN role changes widely from one state to the next because of each state Board of Nursing’s regulations. This means that an LPN can carry out certain duties, such as administering medication, in some states, while he or she cannot perform those same duties in other states. Because of that, you can get a general idea of what to expect from this type of job, but be aware that your actual duties could be different based on the state where you’ll work. Also, the employer may set certain limitations on the LPN role, such as not allowing the LPN to carry out the same responsibilities as an RN, or registered nurse.

Overall, LPNs provide nursing and assisting within medical settings. They monitor patients and take vital signs, adding the information they collect to the patient’s medical record. They often collect blood and other samples, and they care for patients with nasogastric tubes, tracheostomy tubes, ventilators and ostomies, for example. They may give medication, insert catheters and change wound dressings, as well as care for daily needs by bathing, dressing or feeding patients. In addition, they assist RNs and doctors with various duties, such as medical procedures, and they discuss medical care with their patients.

In today’s digitized world, LPNs use technology within their day-to-day roles. Examples that could be relevant to your role include medical equipment, medication dispensing machines and computer software for medical records.

LPNs can work in different areas of practice, which affects the focus of your daily work duties. For instance, your experience would be different working as an LPN in a burn unit compared to working in labor and delivery. There are many additional specialized areas for an LPN, including pediatrics, oncology, the ICU, the emergency room, gerontology or rehabilitation.

Work Environment

Most LPNs work in nursing and residential care facilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These are nursing homes and similar types of facilities where people live while needing nursing care. The next top employers of LPNs are hospitals, doctors’ offices, home health and government. Nonetheless, LPN positions are also found in schools, in the military and in other settings.

Work schedules vary for LPNs, and unlike a 9-to-5 position, the work hours are often unsteady and changeable. This is because LPNs are often employed in healthcare settings that remain constantly open. LPN shifts could be days or nights, and they can include weekends and holidays. Also, shifts may last for longer than eight hours. Most LPN jobs are full time, although it’s also possible to work part time within this profession. The setting where you work can affect the type of schedule you could expect.

LPNs wear nursing scrubs to work. An LPN position generally involves standing and walking for most of the day. It can also be physically demanding, because LPNs may need to lift patients, which brings the potential for back injuries.

Becoming an LPN can provide a rewarding career that puts you in the medical field working directly with patients. You will help people improve their health, while assisting RNs and doctors to better perform their jobs. You have many settings and specializations to choose from as an LPN, which gives you a lot of opportunity to try new areas and grow within your career.