LPNs are Crucial Members of the Long Term Care Team

In the past, Licensed Practical Nurses worked in hospitals providing care for patients. Over the years, however, this position has changed and individuals will find LPNs in a variety of settings, including physicians’ offices, psychiatric centers, nursing homes and in long term care facilities. In addition, some Licensed Practical Nurses choose to take on travel or interim positions, making this one of the most flexible and adaptable nursing fields. Depending on which state the LPN is working in, he or she may be permitted to start IV fluids, care for patients on ventilators and administer medications. The following provides information on this career choice and what it entails.

The Job Description Of A Licensed Practical Nurse In Long Term Care

LPNs working in long term care do much more than simply care for their patients in a clinical setting. The LPN advocates for patients, educates them and their loved ones and ensures the treatment plan is being carried out properly. He or she often counsels patients on treatment options and consults with superiors with regard to patient care. In the event a problem arises, the LPN assesses the situation and comes up with possible solutions that follow the standards of care. He or she then works with the medical team to determine which solution best meets the needs of the patient.
The job of a Licensed Practical Nurse varies by state and work setting. In fact, the LPN may be limited to certain tasks, as outlined by the state nursing board. Individuals wishing to pursue a career in this field need to check with their state board of nursing to see what is permitted in their state.

The Duties Of An LPN

LPNs handle a number of tasks throughout the day. Furthermore, each day is different from the previous one. Following are some duties of a Licensed Practical Nurse in long term care, although other jobs may also be assigned to this individual.

• The LPN works directly with residents to ensure their needs are met.
• LPNs use nursing principles and an assessment of the patient to develop, determine and implement a plan that is individualized for the patient and works with other medical professionals during this process. Furthermore, he or conducts care conferences for residents, when they are required.
• The LPN initiates the orders of physicians involved in the care of the resident, administers the necessary medications and carries out any treatments and procedures outlined in the patient’s plan.
• LPNs must accurately document all care they provide for a patient and note any observations for others in the medical team.
• The LPN needs to work with the medical team, patient, his and her family and any visitors to ensure the atmosphere is pleasant and positive. The goal is to provide the highest level of care for the patient and they and their loved ones should feel comfortable at all times.
• Nurses take part in rounds and ensure others caring for the patient understand what treatment has been provided and what is needed. This may be done through a consultation with others in the medical team, through change-of-shift reports or a face-to-face meeting.
• Depending on the state and the job duties of others on the medical team, an LPN working in long term care may be required to administer medications, care for wounds, prep a patient for a procedure and more. Some Licensed Practical Nurses working in long term care handle PEG tube feedings and care. Vital signs may be taken by the LPN, and he or may be asked to flush PICC lines and change any line dressings.
• Confidentiality remains critical in the healthcare field, and Licensed Practical Nurses are not exempt from this. They must fully understand all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements.
• In the event a patient’s condition changes, the LPN needs to alert the medical team immediately to ensure the safety and care of the patient.
• When a patient is to be discharged, the LPN assists in the process.

Educational And Licensing Requirements for Long Term Care LPNs

Individuals desiring to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse must successfully complete an educational program approved by the state in which they wish to become licensed. Most programs of this type take approximately one year to complete and, upon completion, the individual is awarded either a diploma or certificate. Programs of this type are offered by community colleges and technical schools, with some hospitals and high schools now providing them also.

During this training, the student learns about biology, psychopharmacology and nursing, among other things. In addition to classroom learning, students take part in clinical experience under supervision. Each state’s board of nursing maintains a list of programs that are approved.

Upon completion of the educational requirements, a prospective LPN take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This exam must be successfully completed before a license will be issued. Furthermore, LPNs may wish to obtain certification in a particular field, such as gerontology.

Working Conditions for LPNs

Licensed Practical Nurses tend to work in assisted living facilities or health care facilities with a long-term care division. However, other health care organizations may also hire individuals of this type, including home health agencies. The nurses tend to work certain shifts, however, they may be called on to work different days, hours and weeks. Many find they must work overtime, and some holidays are required. In addition, an LPN working in long term care may be on call at various times.

Individuals must be able to deal with multiple medical situations simultaneously and handle emergencies with ease. Furthermore, he or she needs to understand they are at risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens, communicable or infectious diseases and risk of injury from a patient who is distraught. The working conditions vary significantly, thus nurses must be prepared for anything.
A nurse will find he or she may be required to stand, walk or sit for long periods of time. Climbing, crouching, stooping, sitting, balancing and kneeling may all be required throughout the course of a shift, and nurses need both fine and gross motor coordination to carry out their duties.

Qualities Needed In Long Term Care Licensed Practical Nurses

Individuals working in this field need to possess certain characteristics. They must be compassionate and care about the people they work with, not simply the patients, but their families also. Patience will be needed at this time, as those who are ill can be cantankerous and needy, and the LPN needs excellent interpersonal skills. The nurse must be able to handle a variety of physical tasks, such as bending to care for patients and lifting them when needed. Furthermore, a nurse must be able to communicate effectively with patients, their families and the medical team to ensure all remain on the same page.

The Salary Of A Licensed Practical Nurse

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Licensed Practical Nurses made a median annual wage of $44,090 in May 2016. This means half of Licensed Practical Nurses made more than this and half made less. Individuals in the lowest ten percent made less than $32,510, while those in the top ten percent brought in more than $60,420 annually.

Where a person chooses to work also plays a role in how much they earn each year. Licensed Practical Nurses working for the government tend to earn the most, making a median annual wage of $45,620. Those working in a nursing or residential care facility earn slightly less, generating a median annual wage of $45,300, and those working in home health care services bring in $44,510 as a median annual wage. Many Licensed Practical Nurses in long term care choose to work in hospitals and make a median annual wage of $42,660, and those working in a physician’s office tend to earn the least, making a median annual wage of $39,990.

LPNs working in Long Term Care with 360 Healthcare Staffing average $23 to $26 per hour (higher than the national median), plus receive compensation for travel to and from the healthcare facility, completely free housing, and a meal allowance of up to $500 per assignment. 

The Job Outlook For Licensed Practical Nurses In Long Term Care

The American population is aging, thus more Licensed Practical Nurses working in the field of long term care will be needed in the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects this field will grow 16 percent by 2024, and this is significantly faster than average for all occupations. More LPNs will be employed in home health environments and residential care facilities for care for these individuals. Furthermore, the rise in many chronic conditions, like obesity and diabetes, will increase the need for individuals in this field. Nurses will find work in outpatient care centers, extended care facilities and skilled nursing centers to help these people. The job outlook is expected to be particularly good for those who wish to work in rural areas and those areas that are medically underserved.

A career as a Licensed Practical Nurse working in the long term care field is achievable for all. Individuals looking for good pay and numerous job opportunities find they obtain both when they pursue this type of job. Anyone who loves to work with others and help improve their life should learn more about becoming an LPN. Those who do so love that they make a difference in a person’s life each and every day they go to work.

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