The nursing field is composed of three general categories: certified nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and registered nurses (RNs). Many are familiar with the CNA’s grit, as well as the esteem of the registered nurse. However, positioned between the two is the LPN (or licensed vocational nurse in California and Texas) which acts as an intermediary between the two joint positions. Licensed practical nurses supervise CNAs and help them with their duties including cleaning rooms, and caring for patients’ basic needs (food, bathing). They also assist doctors and registered nurses on tests, as well as report patient statuses back to them. These healthcare professionals are educated on a wide array of topics and have knowledge in many areas. LPNs earn a median average of $45,000 per year. That number is higher for LPNs working in a state-run setting and lower for those working under a private physician. A fair amount of them remain in their position for their entire career, others use it as a stepping stone on their path to becoming a registered nurse or nurse practitioner (NP).
Due to an increasingly aging population, licensed practical nurses are currently in high demand. Though their current salary hovers in the mid-40,000s, that number is expected to rise as much as 25% over the next decade. Because of the general quality of life improvements over the past few decades, Americans are experiencing dramatically longer lifespans. As our lifespans lengthen, the overall number of older individuals increases. It is estimated that by 2060, the number of individuals over the age of 65 will double. With longer life spans comes a laundry list of health concerns that people previously did not live long enough to experience. LPNs will be sorely needed to fill spaces in healthcare facilities (particularly nursing homes) to accommodate the incoming wave of patients. Aging patients also require more face-to-face reassurance and care, making the LPN’s role all the more critical.
Licensed practical nursing is regarded by most in the field as difficult, arduous, yet highly rewarding work. Good LPNs possess highly empathetic qualities and are passionate about caring for others, especially those who cannot or have difficulty helping themselves function from day to day. These traits will translate well into the future of healthcare, one that needs to reckon with a high influx of senior citizens that will need varying degrees of care for a myriad of chronic health issues.