Longterm care facilities consistently employ LPNs and often have unfilled positions. In fact, it was estimated by the Massachusetts Senior Care Association that there were as many as 62 unfilled positions in Western Massachusetts in 2010. Primary care facilities and practices are increasingly employing of LPNs, also driving up the demand for qualified workers.
LPNs provide a wide range of basic medical care under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. They often work directly with CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants).
Licensed practical nurses:
- Care for patients directly by taking temperatures and blood pressures, dressing wounds and treating bedsores, collecting samples for lab analysis, and dispensing medications
- Help evaluate patients and create care plans by monitoring and reporting changes in patient conditions and collaborating with a care team that includes nursing assistants, nurses, and physicians
- Update and share patient information according to healthcare privacy standards
Employment opportunities can be found in:
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Doctors’ offices
- Home care and hospice
- Other residential and long-term care facilities
Education and training requirements
To become an LPN, a high school diploma and completion of a certificate training program at a community college is required. This training is a combination of college-level course and supervised clinical practice. In order to become certified, LPNs are required to pass an exam. Many community college programs offer career pathway options for an LPN to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
LPNs are also expected to have:
- Strong math skills for calculating medication dosages
- A solid understanding of anatomy, physiology and biology
- Knowledge of patient’s rights and privacy requirements
- Strong oral and written communication and teamwork skills