A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is an entry-level nurse, and in California and Texas, the role is defined as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN).
LPN is trained to perform basic nursing care and simple procedures.
The educational requirements for becoming LPN or LVN are different across the states.
For example, to become an LVN in California, one must complete 1530 total credit hours.
The requirements include 576 theory hours and 954 clinical hours.
Those who choose a full-time option will need around 12-14 months to finish the program.
The curriculum for LPN/LVN includes anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nursing processes, nutrition, human growth, development, and other nursing specialty courses.
Each LPN/LVN course must be approved by the state to be valid.
After the classes are completed, the nurse may take the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination).
After passing the exam successfully, a nurse can work in the state as an LPN/LVN.
LPN/LVN practices under the supervision of a physician or registered nurse (RN).
Each state determines the scope of practice for LPN/LVN either by Practical Nursing Act or by Vocational Practice Act.
Even though LPNs/LVNs have the license, they need the supervision of the registered nurse, regardless of whether or not the RN is formally in the supervising position.
The Board of Nursing in each state, though the Nurse Practice Act authorizes RNs to delegate tasks to unlicensed medical staff.
The Nurse Practice Act also allows registered nurses to oversee unlicensed staff, including LPN/LVN, and evaluate their competency to make sure the LPN/LVN can perform the task.
If a registered nurse identifies that LPN/LVN is incompetent to perform the task, the RN must intervene and take responsibility for such a task.
Also, RN should provide assistance and help with any professional problem LPN/LVN may bring forward.
For example, if an LPN/LVN has concerns about the physician’s order, the RN is responsible for clarifying the orders.
If the RN fails to do so, the RN can be held liable in case of medical errors tied to the orders.
Each registered nurse should consult their local Board of Nursing to solve any misunderstandings and become familiar with all differences in the practice specified by each state.
In the majority of the states, Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical (or Vocational) Nurses have the same Board of Nursing.
LPN/LVN role is just an entry role for nurses wanting to earn a registered nursing license.
There is plenty of LPN to RN programs that allow the LPNs to improve their knowledge and earn the license.