A licensed practice nurse, which is sometimes referred to as a licensed vocation nurse in the states of Texas and California, is a nurse who generally works under the direction of a physician or registered nurse (RN).

A licensed practical nurse must have mastery and confidence in performing many standardized nursing duties such as recording a patient’s physical condition (height, weight, vital signs, temperature, pulse, blood pressure, etc). Additional duties may include preparing and administering injections, enemas, dressing wounds, and tending to bed ridden patients hygiene.

Most LPNs are generalists, however, some will specialize in nursing or home care. As generalized healthcare assistants, LPNs are both in high demand and are also towards the bottom of the healthcare hierarchy and may have to work the demanding hours (nights, holidays and weekends) that are associated with this type of healthcare.

The education required to become an LPN usually involves a one year training program that may be offered by local community colleges and requires a high school diploma for entrance. The course of study is heavy in the fields of medical science as would be expected. Subjects will likely include classroom study of topics such as physiology, anatomy, nursing, pharmacology, nutrition, first-aid, pediatrics, and others. There will also be a supervised clinical practice portion of the program.

To obtain final licensure, candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical nurse (NCLEX-PN). However, many LPNs also undergo higher levels of education such as LPN to Registered Nurse (RN) programs to further their careers. RN’s then have the option to take a further step in their education by entering a Master of Nursing program and becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) who tend to have the skill and responsibilities usually associated with highly qualified and specialized healthcare professionals.