How to Become a Licensed Vocational Nurse

A licensed vocational nurse, called a licensed practical nurse in many areas, is a nurse licensed by a region or state to provide basic care to patients. Licensed vocational nurses, or LVNs, may work in convalescent homes, hospitals, long-term care facilities, surgical centers, or doctors’ offices. In these environments, they provide many of the services that are also performed by registered nurses.

Job Description

LVNs must work under the supervision of doctors or RNs and have limits on services they can legally provide. These limits vary from one area to another. For instance, some areas do not allow LVNs to start IVs while others allow for certification for this. In most areas, however, LVNs are allowed to give injections and take blood. Depending upon the employer, LVNs may have to perform cleaning, preparing rooms, and cleaning and bathing patients. In other facilities, the LVN may monitor patients, perform patient assessments, and supervise medical assistants and nursing assistants.

Education and Training

In order to become an LVN, you must complete a one-year program that includes studies in anatomy and physiology, patient care, and other medical basics. These programs are typically available at trade schools, medical schools, and community colleges at varying costs. After completing the class work, an LVN must complete supervised clinical practice before applying for a license.

Salary and Career Outlook

LVNs perform very hard work, but make about half as much as an RN. Because of this, many LVNs choose to later pursue their RN training and licensure. LVNs can specialize in a particular area of medicine that they find most interesting, but the highest demand for these professionals is in nursing homes or long-term care. These positions often pay more and are most readily available to LVNs with a geriatric specialty. Since there are limitations on what an LVN can do, hospitals typically prefer hiring RNs. Private physician’s practices, however, will often prefer an LVN because of the cost savings in salary.