Five ways to specialize your LPN career

Despite undeniable challenges, most nurses love their jobs for many reasons. Here are 5 different healthcare career paths for licensed practical nurses.

One of the benefits of being a licensed practical nurses (LPN) is the ability to choose from a variety of different career paths, both initially and at later points in their life. When we consider the changing needs of an aging population over the next few years, the options diversity even further.

Five ways to specialize your licensed practical nurse career

The core duties of an LPN include:

  • Monitoring and recording patient stats
  • Discussing health concerns with patients
  • Assisting patients with basic hygiene
  • Performing administrative tasks

But looking ahead, LPNs are expected to expand their presence into work environments that today they populate the least.

LPNs looking to begin their nursing careers soon (or those transitioning to unconventional work environments) should be aware of their options. Below is an outline of the five most common work environments for LPNs, including the duties performed in each environment, projected job growth for each career path, and other helpful details.

Note: the information below was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and is ordered by the percentage of the national LPN workforce as of 2010.

1. Nursing Care Facilities (Non-Exclusive to the Elderly)

Example employers: residential treatment agencies (such as group homes for the mentally or chronically ill, rehabilitative services, hospice services)
Common duties: conducting health assessments, developing treatment plans, cleaning patient rooms, supervising nursing aides
Percentage of the national LPN workforce as of 2010: 28.9%
Projected job growth: 11.7% by 2020

2. General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (Private)

Example employers: hospitals (especially surgery, maternity, emergency wards)
Common duties: assisting with advanced medical practices, supervising nursing aides
Percentage of the national LPN workforce as of 2010: 15.5%
Projected job growth: 8.1% by 2020

3. Physician Offices

Example employers: physician’s offices, clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, emergency medical centers
Common duties: preparing patients for examination, giving routine injections, administering medications, assisting with minor surgeries, dressing incisions
Percentage of the national LPN workforce as of 2010: 12%
Projected job growth: 30.8% by 2020

4. Home Healthcare Services

Example employers: clinics, private home health agencies
Common duties: assisting patients with personal and environmental hygiene, entertaining and conversing with patients to promote mental health, evaluating patient living conditions, accompanying patients on outings, teaching family members basic patient care
Percentage of the national LPN workforce as of 2010: 9.3%
Projected job growth: 72.1% by 2020

5. Community Care Facilities for the Elderly

Example employers: public or private nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes
Common duties: keeping patients and their environments clean, providing companionship, assisting with physical therapy regimens
Percentage of the national LPN workforce as of 2010: 5.4%
Projected job growth: 49.4% by 2020

Many of these projections correlate directly with an anticipated rise in nursing care required by aging baby boomers entering the last years of their lives. As an LPN, which of these five work environments interests you the most? Where do you predict you'll work ten years from now? If you’re looking to make a move sooner, start looking for a new job as an LPN today!


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