Exploring LPN in Nursing: Duties, Benefits of Evidence-Based Practice, Career Comparisons, and More
“Nursing is one of the fine arts: I had almost said ‘the finest of fine arts.'”
This quote from Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, aptly summarizes nurses’ role in our society. Nurses are the first ones to open the eyes of a newborn and often the last person to close the eyes of a dying person. It takes a lot of dedication, willingness to learn, and hard work to be a nurse and play a vital role in keeping mankind healthy and caring for the ill and the wounded.
If you want to join this noble profession, you may want to start as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). LPNs are vital in providing quality patient care in the healthcare industry. You may have questions at this stage, such as what is LPN in nursing or how long does it take to become an LNP? In this detailed write-up, we shall cover all of these and discuss the significance of LPNs in healthcare, their duties and responsibilities, and the benefits of evidence-based practice in nursing.
What is LPN in Nursing?
LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. They are healthcare professionals who provide direct patient care under the maintenance of Registered Nurses (RNs) and other medical professionals. You perform various tasks in this role, including patient care, medication administration, documentation, and assistance with procedures and tests. You are responsible for administering the treatment to a patient as the doctor or the RNs recommend.
It will be an understatement to say that LPNs are integral to the healthcare team. LPNs are the backbone of the healthcare system and contribute to the delivery of safe and effective patient care. An LPN is trained in a unique skill set that combines technical expertise and compassionate care, making them valuable assets in healthcare facilities. LPNs ensure patient comfort, monitor vital signs, administer medications, and emotionally support patients and their families.
LPN Duties and Responsibilities
If you are planning a career as an LPN, you must understand LPN duties and responsibilities before taking the plunge. LPNs have a defined scope of practice, which can vary from state to state. It typically includes wound care, medication administration, monitoring patient conditions, collecting data, and assisting with rehabilitation exercises. LPNS must work within their scope and collaborate with other healthcare professionals for comprehensive patient care.
Key Responsibilities and Tasks of LPNs
- Patient Care and Monitoring: The core role of an LPN is to offer immediate patient care, including bathing, dressing, feeding, and assisting with mobility. They also monitor vital signs, observe patient conditions, and report any changes to RNs and doctors.
- Administering Medications and Treatments: Administering medications, injections, and intravenous fluids as healthcare providers prescribe is also important for an LPN. They also perform basic medical procedures, such as dressing changes and wound care.
- Assisting with Procedures and Tests: LPNs assist physicians and RNs during various procedures and tests, such as catheter insertions, specimen collections, and diagnostic examinations. They are the closest medical staff to a patient, ensuring patient comfort and safety throughout these procedures.
- Documenting Patient Information: LPNs must maintain accurate and up-to-date patient records. They document vital signs, medications administered, treatments provided, and any observations regarding the patient’s condition. Accurate documentation is vital for continuity of care and allows doctors and RNs to make evidence-based decisions, improving patient outcomes.
Where Can LPNs Work?
Now that you have understood LPN duties and responsibilities, your next query would be where can LPNs work? As a trained LPN, you can choose from various career opportunities ahead of you. Here are the most common work settings for Licensed Practical Nurses.
- Hospitals and Medical Centers: This is the most widely explored career option among LPNs contribute to the care of patients in hospitals, assisting with routine tasks, administering medications, and monitoring patient conditions.
- Long-Term Care Facilities: LPNs are vital in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and rehabilitation centers. They care for elderly individuals and those with chronic illnesses, ensuring comfort and well-being. The mean salaries at these facilities are higher than what they earn at hospitals.
- Rehabilitation Centers: There has been an increase in rehabilitation centers with an aging population. LPNs assist patients who have undergone surgery, experienced injuries or require rehabilitative therapy.
- Home Healthcare: This is again an area of high demand due to the growing percentage of the senior population. LPNs provide healthcare services in patients’ homes, offering personalized care and assistance with daily activities.
- Clinics and Doctor’s Offices: LPNs work in outpatient clinics and doctors’ offices, supporting healthcare providers in delivering primary care services, conducting assessments, and assisting with minor procedures.
LPN Specialization Options and Career Paths
LPNs can choose to specialize in specific areas of healthcare to enhance their knowledge and skills. Specializations may include pediatric care, gerontology, mental health, or surgical nursing. LPNs can also pursue further education and training to advance their careers, such as becoming Registered Nurses (RNs) through bridge programs.
Benefits of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing
If you have done basic research on a career as an LPN, you’d have come across the term evidence-based practice in nursing. What does it mean, and why is it important? EBP or nursing evidence-based practice involves integrating the best available research evidence, clinical expertise, and patient preferences to guide decision-making. The goal is to provide optimal patient care based on their exact needs. EBP helps ensure that healthcare practices adhere to the most current and reliable Evidence, which results in improved patient care and outcomes.
Advantages of Implementing EBP in Patient Care
Evidence-based practice in nursing has several advantages, and it has been instrumental in improving modern healthcare. Let us walk you through three major advantages –
- Improved Patient Outcomes: EBP encourages research-driven interventions and practices that have benefitted people in the past and can do the same. It can lead to better patient outcomes, such as reduced complications, improved recovery rates, and increased patient satisfaction.
- Enhanced Quality and Safety of Care: By implementing evidence-based interventions, healthcare providers can deliver high-quality care that aligns with established standards and guidelines. This approach minimizes the risk of errors and adverse events, ensuring patient safety.
- Informed Decision-Making for Nurses: EBP empowers nurses with the knowledge and skills to appraise research evidence critically. It enables them to make informed decisions, provide patient-centered care, and advocate for best practices within the healthcare team.
Examples Of Successful EBP Initiatives in Nursing
EBP is applicable and beneficial in different settings and let us look at recent example to understand the benefits of evidence-based practice in nursing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence-based practice was crucial in guiding nursing interventions and improving patient outcomes. One example was the implementation of strict hand hygiene protocols. Nurses implemented rigorous protocols, including regular handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Implementing Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing
Nursing schools are implementing evidence-based practice to train future nurses with the necessary skills to deliver evidence-based care from the start of their careers. Here are the steps involved in the successful implementation of EPB in nursing –
- Formulating a Research Question: The best way to implement EBP is to identify a clinical issue or problem that requires evidence-based intervention. It raises curiosity and encourages trainee nurses to search for relevant evidence.
- Searching for Evidence: In this step, trainees are encouraged to conduct a systematic literature search using reputable databases and sources to identify relevant research studies and other evidence.
- Critically Appraising Evidence: It is the most crucial step in the process, and here trainees evaluate the quality, validity, and applicability of the gathered evidence. They assess the strength of the evidence and its relevance to the clinical question.
- Implementing Evidence-Based Interventions: At this stage, trainees implement the findings from the evidence into practice. It involves developing protocols, guidelines, or interventions based on the best available evidence.
- Evaluating Outcomes and Adjusting Practices: In the final stage, nurses monitor and evaluate the outcomes of implementing evidence-based interventions. They may make adjustments to improve patient outcomes and refine their practice.
Challenges and Barriers to EBP Implementation
Implementing EBP in nursing may face challenges such as limited access to research literature, time constraints, resistance to change, and organizational barriers. However, modern healthcare practices demand overcoming these challenges. It requires leadership support, education and training, interprofessional collaboration, and promoting a culture in the healthcare sector that values EBP.
Strategies for Promoting EBP Adoption in Nursing
Healthcare organizations have been steadfast in promoting EBP adoption in nursing. Here are a few
strategies that can help promote the adoption of EBP in nursing
- Provide access to reliable and up-to-date research resources.
- Offer educational programs on EBP principles and skills.
- Foster a culture of continuous learning and critical thinking.
- Encourage interprofessional collaboration and knowledge sharing.
- Recognize and reward nurses who implement EBP in their practice.
Nursing Evidence-Based Practice: Case Studies and Examples
Let us now turn our attention to a few examples of evidence-based practice that showcase the benefits of evidence-based practice.
- Use of Protocols for Reducing Hospital-Acquired Infections: Hospital-acquired infections were a major worry until the early 20th century. Implementing evidence-based protocols, such as hand hygiene and bloodstream infection prevention bundles, has significantly reduced infection rates and saved millions of lives.
- Application of Evidence-Based Guidelines in Chronic Disease Management: Nurses utilizing evidence-based guidelines for chronic disease management, such as heart failure or asthma, have improved patient outcomes by optimizing medication regimens, monitoring symptoms, and providing patient education.
- Integrating EBP into Nursing Education and Training: Nursing education programs have incorporated EBP principles. It has helped young nurses understand the benefits of EBP and adopt it as a part of their daily practice. With this healthcare industry has built an EBP culture organically.
How Long Does It Take to Become an LPN?
The time it takes to train as an LPN varies according to state and educational institution. Aspiring LPNs must complete a state-approved practical nursing program. Vocational schools, community colleges, or hospitals offer this training. Let us now look at the different aspects of training as an LPN.
Duration of LPN Programs
LPN programs generally range from 12 to 24 months. You must undergo both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience. At the end of the program, you need to pass the NCLEX-PN. It is important to prepare for this exam as aspirants who fail must wait 45 days to retake the same.
Factors That May Affect the Time to Become an LPN
Several aspects can influence the time it takes to become an LPN, and these include –
- Program Schedule
- Program structure (full-time or part-time)
- Curriculum requirements
- Clinical training hours
- Student’s availability
Accelerated LPN Programs and Alternatives
Accelerated LPN programs are designed for individuals with a healthcare-related degree or who have completed certain prerequisite courses. These programs condense the curriculum and clinical training, allowing students to complete their LPN education in a shorter timeframe than freshers.
LPN vs. RN Duties: Comparing Roles in Nursing
Most LPNs aspire to become RNs in the future, so you may want to know the difference between the role of LPNs and RNs. Both contribute to patient care, but their roles and responsibilities differ based on their education, scope of practice, and state regulations. LPNs work under the supervision of RNs and provide direct care, while RNs have a broader scope of practice, including assessing patients, developing care plans, and administering complex treatments.
Scope of Practice Differences Between LPNs and RNs
LPNs focus on providing basic nursing care, such as monitoring vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with daily activities. On the other hand, RNs have a more comprehensive role that involves patient assessment, diagnosis, and the implementation of advanced nursing interventions.
Educational Requirements and Career Progression
LPNs complete a practical nursing program, while RNs achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). RNs have more extensive educational preparation, which allows for higher-paying career opportunities, specialization options, and potential for leadership roles.
Collaborative Teamwork between LPNs and RNs
LPNs and RNs collaborate to provide holistic patient care. LPNs contribute their expertise in direct patient care, while RNs bring their advanced knowledge and skills to coordinate and manage the overall care plan. Effective communication and mutual respect are vital for successful collaboration.
Licensed Practical Nurses are vital in delivering direct patient care. They work in diverse settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and clinics. If you plan to become an LPN, you must look for an institute focusing on evidence-based practice. It improves patient outcomes, enhances care quality and safety, and supports informed decision-making for nurses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between an LPN and an RN?
LPNs provide primary nursing care under the supervision of RNs, while RNs have a broader scope of practice, including assessment, diagnosis, and advanced interventions.
Can LPNs specialize in specific areas of healthcare?
LPNs can specialize in specific areas of healthcare, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, obstetrics, or critical care, by gaining experience and pursuing additional training or certifications.
How does evidence-based practice improve patient care?
Evidence-based practice improves patient care by integrating the best available research evidence, clinical expertise, and patient preferences to inform decision-making.
What are the advantages of pursuing a career as an LPN?
LPN has a shorter education and training period compared to other nursing roles. It offers opportunities for hands-on care and the potential to work in various healthcare settings.
Are LPNs allowed to administer medications?
Yes, LPNs can administer medications under the control of a registered nurse (RN) or a medic. However, the specific scope of medication administration may vary depending on regulations and healthcare settings.
Can LPNs advance their careers and become RNs?
Yes, LPNs can advance their careers and become registered nurses (RNs). One common option is to enroll in an LPN-to-RN bridge program.