Licensed Practical Nurse Review

Licensed practical nurses generally have strong people skills that serve them well as they provide basic care for patients. Opportunities for advancement are relatively few compared to those of a registered nurse, though.

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The Good

Close relationships with your patients

As a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you interact frequently with patients, performing tasks like checking blood pressure or bringing them medication. You also need to listen carefully to the patients and help put them at ease if they’re distressed. These responsibilities generally forge a closer relationship between LPNs and patients than you see with other medical professions, so strong people skills are just as important as technical knowledge. This makes a career as an LPN perfect for anyone who enjoys working as part of a team and regularly interacting with others.

Provide much-needed care in underserved areas

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a number of jobs will open up for LPNs in currently underserved areas. Most of these are going to be rural areas where hospitals are smaller. Working in such an environment enables you to provide a high standard of care to patients who really need it. This type of work can be really rewarding and a good fit for anyone interested in working in a small town rather than in a busier, urban environment.

Few educational requirements to get started

Most LPNs get certified through a one-year program at a community college. Then, once they’ve passed an exam to get their license, they’re ready to get started. Most vocational careers require a minimum of an associate’s degree, which takes about two years to complete. If you’re looking to get out in the workforce as soon as possible or don’t have the time or money to devote to obtaining a more advanced nursing degree, a certificate like this is a good place to start. Plus, once you’re employed as an LPN, you always have the option to complete additional training to become a registered nurse if that’s something you’re interested in.

Work full or part time

The majority of LPNs work a 40+ hour week, but there are also opportunities available to those looking for part-time employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20% of all LPNs today work part time. This is a relatively high percentage compared to the majority of vocational careers. Working part time is definitely something to think about if you have other commitments, such as school or child care, that would prevent you from working full time. This way, you still have the schedule for these other activities while earning a steady income.

The Bad

Must be supervised by a registered nurse

In most states, LPNs are limited to providing certain types of care, and a registered nurse must be present to supervise. Because of this requirement, LPNs have much more limited options in terms of advancing or specializing once they’ve gained some experience in the field. Most LPNs looking to move up in the field complete an LPN to RN program so they can become a registered nurse, which opens up many more opportunities to specialize in an area that most appeals to them. At the same time, starting off as an LPN isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it enables you to get some experience and earn some money while pursuing a more advanced degree.

Frequent overtime hours

Depending on where you work, you may be required to work more than eight hours on a given day or put in over 40 hours during a week. Nurses, like most medical staff, must be present in a hospital at all hours of the day to treat injuries and illnesses and monitor patients. If the facility you work in is understaffed, you may end up having to work longer days to ensure enough employees are available to care for the patients. This is something to keep in mind when considering any profession in the medical field but, ultimately, whether or not frequent overtime is a regular part of the job will vary depending on the place of business.

The Details


  • Career Growth (2012-2022): 25%
  • Median Pay: $41,540
  • Number of Jobs: 738,400
  • Number of New Jobs (2012-2022): 182,900

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