Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description, Salary, and Skills

Nurse prepping IV bag
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Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) perform a number of basic nursing tasks. They work under doctors and registered nurses in medical offices, hospitals, health care facilities, as well as providing in-home care. This is a growing occupation with a high rate of job openings, because of the aging of the baby boomer generation.

Interested in becoming an LPN? Read below for information regarding the responsibilities of LPNs, education and training, skills required, potential earnings, and employment outlook.

Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description

LPNs carry out nursing tasks that are more complex than those that nurse's aides complete but less complex than the duties of a registered nurse. LPNs monitor the health of patients and look for signs that their health is deteriorating or improving. They check vital signs and watch for changes in monitor readings.

Licensed Practical Nurses perform basic nursing functions like changing bandages and wound dressings. They comfort patients and make sure basic needs such as food and fluid intake are in order. Licensed practical nurses may also administer medications in some settings depending on institutional and state standards.

Work Environment

LPNs work in a variety of healthcare environments. They serve in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, health clinics, and private physician practices. Some also provide healthcare services at peoples’ homes. Nurses have to be able to stand on their feet for most of the day. They may need to lift or move patients as well.

Work Schedule

Some LPNs work part-time, although most work full-time. Many work at least some nights, weekends, and holidays. Sometimes, shifts last longer than eight hours, but may entail a shorter work week.

Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical nurses earned a median salary of $45,030 in May 2017. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $32,970 and the top 10 percent earned at least $61,030.

Licensed Practical Nurse Requirements

Requirements for LPNs vary from state to state. Generally, LPNs must complete a certificate or diploma program; typically these take about one to two years to complete. They can complete these programs at colleges, technical schools, and some hospitals.

LPNs also have to complete a national licensure examination. Some LPNs may also choose to become certified in certain specialties, such as IV therapy, nephrology, or hospice care.

Licensed Practical Nurse Skills

LPNs require a variety of hard and soft skills. While required LPN skills vary based on the specific job, there are a number of skills expected of most LPNs. They should be compassionate towards patients and have strong communication skills. They have to be very patient and be able to deal with the stress of caring for sick and injured people.

They should also be detail oriented: they must keep track of their multiple patients’ medications, vital signs, and general well-being. When applying for a job as an LPN, be sure to read the job description for a list of the specific skills required for that job.

Here's a list of Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) skills for resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Required skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Skills List

A - C

  • Active Listening
  • Adaptability
  • Adhering to Departmental Guidelines
  • Administering Injections
  • Admitting Patients
  • Assessing Pain Level of Patients
  • Assessing Training Needs of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
  • Assisting with Monitoring and Caring for IVs
  • Attention to Detail
  • Calling in Prescriptions
  • Calming Agitated Patients and Family Members
  • Changing Aseptic Dressings
  • Collaboration
  • Collecting Specimens
  • Compassionate Care
  • CPR
  • Customer Service

D - I

  • Delivering Routine Respiratory Therapy
  • Demonstrating a Positive Attitude
  • Diagnostic
  • Discerning Changes in the Condition of Patients
  • Discharging Patients
  • Documenting Procedures
  • Educating Family Members Regarding Patient Care
  • Evaluating the Performance of CNAs
  • Flexibility
  • Following Physician/NP/PA Directives Precisely
  • Gathering Patient Data
  • Helping to Develop Total Care Plan for Residents/Patients with Physician, Nurses, and Allied Therapists
  • Instructing Patients Regarding Home Care
  • Interacting Effectively with Diverse Clientele
  • Inventorying and Ordering Supplies
  • Investigating Allegations of Caregiver Misconduct

M - Q

  • Maintaining Patient Confidentiality
  • Mathematical
  • Memorizing Medical and Pharmaceutical Terms
  • Monitoring Intake and Output
  • Multitasking
  • Obtaining Vital Signs
  • Ongoing Learning
  • Organizational
  • Orienting Patients to Procedures
  • Patience
  • Prioritizing
  • Problem Solving
  • Providing Catheter and Colostomy Care

R - Z

  • Remaining Calm with Distressed Patients
  • Resilience
  • Reviewing Current Medications and Allergies with Patients
  • Sound Judgment
  • Spanish
  • Sterilizing Instruments
  • Strictly Observing Infection Control Protocols
  • Supervising Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Support Staff
  • Teamwork
  • Tracking Supply of Controlled Substances
  • Training CNAs
  • Transferring Patients to Other Medical Service Providers
  • Triaging Patients
  • Writing Correspondence

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for licensed practical nurses are projected to expand by 12% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Aging baby boomers will require greater healthcare services so LPNs with certifications or experience with elderly populations will be in the highest demand.