Should I Become an LPN? Pros and Cons
Working as an LPN (licensed practical nurse) can be a rewarding career that involves helping patients in the medical field. At the same time, it comes with challenges you would face on a day-to-day basis. It’s worth weighing the pros and cons of the job, so you know whether it’s a role you could commit to over time.
Cons of Being an LPN
While working as an LPN comes with various benefits, there are also negatives to this role.
Con: Tough Working Conditions
One of the main hardships of the job is the working conditions you may face. You can experience long hours and be expected to work nights, weekends and holidays. The role can include difficult patients and loved ones who are frustrated, scared, in pain and facing other difficulties that they may take out on you. The job can be physically difficult, as you sometimes need to lift patients and stay on your feet, and it can be emotionally draining as well, especially from handling patients who are dying. Also, you may be around hazardous materials.
Con: Low-End Salary
An LPN position pays less than many other jobs in the healthcare field, although it pays better than a CNA (certified nursing assistant) position. You will put in a lot of hard work without receiving the benefit of a high salary. This is because LPNs have less schooling and fewer high-level responsibilities.
Con: Lack of Recognition
An LPN position does not tend to be as respected or noticed by patients or medical staff members as RNs (registered nurses) and higher level staff. You may not receive a lot of thanks for the hard work you put in.
Con: Lacking Authority and Opportunities
The LPN role is a limited one that some people see as a dead-end career or as a stepping stone to a higher level in the medical field. Only certain medical settings hire LPNs, which limits your opportunities from the start. Within the role, you answer to RNs and do not have authority. Also, your duties may only include a small amount of direct medical care and instead be more focused on paperwork and assisting other professionals.
Pros of Being an LPN
Now that you know the potential downsides, let’s take a look at the positive aspects of becoming an LPN.
Pro: Easy to Get Started
It doesn’t take a lot of time or schooling to enter the field as an LPN. You only need to complete one year of accredited schooling. As long as you pass the exam and gain a license, you can get started. This is easier and faster than the requirements to become an RN, which is the next level of nursing.
Pro: Growth Opportunities
You can change and grow in your career. Overall, this career shows a good job outlook, with a significant rise in the number of LPN positions expected. If you feel stagnant or unhappy in your position as an LPN, this career gives you room to adjust your course or advance to the next level. It’s possible to switch your specialization to work in a different environment and with a different healthcare focus, such as geriatric care helping older people or pediatric care helping children. You could also advance to an RN (registered nurse) position, which would offer a different role, increased pay and more opportunities.
Pro: Flexible Schedule
Not everyone prefers a 9-to-5 job, and working as an LPN tends to come with flexibility. This is because the settings where LPNs work are generally open around-the-clock to provide ongoing care to patients. You have the option to work days, evenings or nights, and possibly to have a per diem (as needed) or rotating schedule.
Pro: Making a Difference
The main benefit of being an LPN is feeling good about the work you do. This type of work can give you a purpose and feel rewarding, because you’re providing medical care to people who need help, as well as supporting their loved ones. You can directly make a difference in people’s lives.