A licensed vocational nurse (LVN), also called a licensed practical nurse (LPN), works as part of a health care team to care for sick, injured, and disabled individuals. They usually report directly to registered nurses, but are also under the supervision of doctors and other administrative personnel.
Duties of a vocational nurse include providing basic patient care such as taking blood pressure and other readings, giving injections, dressing wounds, and monitoring catheters. Vocational nurses also provide personal care to patients, including bathing, dressing, walking, and feeding assistance.
Licensed vocational nurse training programs last about a year and are offered by community or junior colleges or vocational schools; vocational nurses must be licensed in order to practice.
Becoming a vocational nurse requires the successful completion of a specialized training program after which the candidate may apply for licensure. A high school diploma or its equivalent is usually a prerequisite for admission. Coursework includes basic nursing concepts, patient care, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, first aid, and various specialized classes such as obstetrics, pediatrics, and geriatrics. Hands-on, clinical experience in health care facilities is also a core component.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wages of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were $39,030. The highest median salaries are associated with vocational nurses working in employment services ($44,690), nursing care facilities ($40,580), and home health care services ($39,510).
Job opportunities for vocational nurses are expected to grow “much faster than average” according to the U.S. Department of Labor with the most growth in nursing care facilities and home health care services. Most vocational nurses work in nursing care facilities (28%) or hospitals (25%), and the trend is expected to continue in order to meet the demands of an aging population. Accordingly, vocational nurses who specialize in geriatric nursing may see the best opportunities into the future as will those with a firm grasp on changing technologies.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics