Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
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Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse

colleges offer programs related to this career near San Jose, CA

Career Overview

There's a good chance the last time you visited the hospital, you interacted with a friendly licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse. These medical professionals provide basic medical care under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. If you have a passion for helping people, and an interest in the medical field, this could be the profession for you.For starters, it's important to know that a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and a licensed vocation nurse (LVN) are the same. The term LVN is used in California and Texas, while LPN is used throughout the rest of the United States. So the difference in title really just depends on where you are. No matter where you choose to work, you will administer care to patients, including changing bandages and inserting catheters, monitoring their health, recording their status, and discussing the care you are providing to patients and listening to their concerns.Working as a LPN or LVN requires strong communication skills. When you are drawing someone's blood or giving them medicine, you may need to keep them engaged in conversation to distract them and keep them calm (especially if they are afraid of needles). When you discuss a patient's condition with them, you will need to show empathy and understanding as they may ask many questions or become upset when your answers aren't what they had hoped. It's good to remember that patients look to you to speak calmly and kindly to them about their health. For example, there may be a time when you have to tell someone that they have a very serious condition such as a terminal illness and they may cry or become hysterical when you share the news.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
12.2 %

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
Certificate in Nursing

You will need to complete a few steps to become a LPN or LVN. First, you must complete an approved educational program. These programs award a certificate or diploma and typically take about 1 year to complete, but may take longer. They are commonly found in technical schools and community colleges. In these programs, you will participate in classroom learning in subjects such as biology and pharmacology. You will also complete supervised clinical work to help you gain real-world experience.Finally, in order to receive your license and work as an LPN or LVN, you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam, or NCLEX-PN. Looking to highlight your skills in a particular subject? You may choose to become certified through professional associations in areas such as gerontology and IV therapy, among others.

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Valued Traits & Abilities

Communication Skills
Detail Oriented

Work Environment

Where you use your skills as a LPN or LVN is entirely up to you. You can choose to work in nursing homes and extended care facilities, hospitals, physician's offices, or even private homes. Most LPNs and LVNs work full time, although some choose to work part time. You may have to work nights, weekends, and holidays because medical care takes place at all hours. Due to high volumes of patients, you may have to work shifts that last longer than 8 hours.No matter where you work, you will wear scrubs, a type of medical clothing that usually consists of a shirt and drawstring pants. These clothes help you to stay clean while working with patients and their germs. Plus, they can be very comfortable. Be prepared to be on your feet for most of the day; you will also help lift patients who have trouble moving in bed, standing, or walking. While these may be stressful duties at times, especially when working with ill or injured people, this is when you will rely on your patience and compassion.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013