There is an increasing need for nurses and that is not expected to change anytime soon. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted the demand for all healthcare occupations would grow 14% between 2018 and 2028.
If you’re interested in starting your career in nursing quickly, consider getting your diploma in practical nursing to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). LPNs work under the direction of registered nurses (RNs) and doctors to provide quality care for patients. They monitor a patient’s condition, administer basic care and keep patient records.
LPNs are vitally important to the healthcare system, but there are a few common misconceptions about the profession. Here is a look at some of them:
1. LPNs are not real nurses.
This misconception arises from a misunderstanding about nursing programs. Some assume that since you can complete your LPN diploma in as few as 12 months, that it’s not as intense or as comprehensive as an associate or bachelor’s degree program. The truth is, you don’t need to earn your BSN degree to start your career as a nurse. The length of a nursing program does not determine whether someone is “more of a nurse.”
LPN graduates are nurses and can work in hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ offices. LPNs have some of the same requirements to graduate as nursing students who have completed their associate or bachelor’s degree. They have gone to nursing school, taken a form of the NCLEX (the NCLEX-PN) and completed the requirements and clinicals needed to be a nurse. While LPNs are different from RNs, this does not mean that LPNs aren’t real nurses.
2. LPN is a dying career.
Some hospitals have increased the educational requirements for nurses, but this does not mean that LPNs are being phased out. While the nursing climate might be changing, LPNs remain a vital part of the nursing community.
The BLS predicts 9% growth for LPNs between 2020-2030. As the baby boomer generation ages, there will be an anticipated need for nurses overall. Additionally, nurses may be needed in other non-traditional settings as many procedures are now being done outside of hospitals.
3. An LPN diploma is just a step to a career as an RN.
While getting your LPN can be a great stepping stone to advance your nursing career, a career as an LPN can also stand on its own. Becoming an LPN is an ideal option for individuals who want to switch their careers to nursing since it does not take as long as other career programs. Working as an LPN can be a perfect way to start a fulfilling and long-term career as a nurse. The median annual wage for LPNs in May 2019 was $47,480.
However, if you do decide to further your career, there are many opportunities to complete other degree programs. Herzing offers LPN to ASN and LPN to RN-BSN programs for those who want to continue their education. LPN to ASN is one of the fastest pathways to becoming an RN and can prepare students for the NCLEX-RN in as few as 16 months. Herzing’s LPN to RN-BSN program, which can be completed in as few as 28 months, also preps students to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Students can also earn dual credit while getting their BSN to put towards their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
4. LPNs are not fully equipped to care for patients.
While LPNs may have fewer clinical and coursework hours as an RN graduate, that does not mean they are unequipped to care for patients. In Herzing’s practical nursing program, students receive hands-on clinical experience as well as many hours of practice in nursing simulation labs. Additionally, courses such as psychology and adult health equip LPN students with the knowledge and skills required to have a successful career as a nurse and provide quality patient care.
5. LPNs cannot teach or be educators.
While the traditional role of an LPN is not focused on teaching, LPNs play a very important role in patient education. While RNs provide initial guidance to a patient, it’s the role of the LPN to reinforce those lessons for patients and their families. LPNs are also the liaison between a patient and the RN.
LPNs may also precept new employees and students. There’s a lot of on the job training and experience that can be taught and shared from LPN to LPN. In some cases, LPNs might also teach aides or medical assistants.
A career as an LPN can be incredibly rewarding. You can become an LPN by following these steps:
- Enroll in a practical nursing program. Make sure that you are earning your degree through an approved and accredited educational program.
- Take the NCLEX-PN exam. Herzing offers preparation for your exam as a part of the nursing curriculum, but studying early and often is recommended for you to pass your test.
Learn more about Herzing’s PN program to start your career today!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.