Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also referred to as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in some states, are a particular group of nurses that are critically important team players in the healthcare industry. Professional multi-taskers with the ability to touch patients’ lives during some of their most difficult times, practical nurses deliver a wide range of essential support to doctors, registered nurses (RNs), and other healthcare personnel. If you’ve been contemplating a career in the rapidly expanding healthcare industry, a future in practical nursing is a career path worth considering. To get you up to speed on what you need to know, we’re doing a deep dive into a day in the life of a practical nurse.
Daily Life as a Practical Nurse
Describing a typical day in the life of a practical nurse is difficult because every workday can be so different, depending on a variety of factors. However, there are common tasks practical nurses are likely to perform on a pretty regular basis, such as:
- Monitoring patients’ vital signs
- Administering medications
- Documenting patient care
- Communicating with patients and their families
- Applying or changing bandages
- Drawing blood or other samples
- Starting IV drips
But it’s important to note that some routine duties will vary based on the specific healthcare setting.
In a hospital setting, a practical nurse might work in a specific unit, such as intensive care, where they provide around-the-clock care to critically ill patients. In this environment, they work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists, to ensure that patients receive the best care possible.
Long-term care facilities
Practical nurses may work with elderly patients who require assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They may also provide wound care, administer medications, and monitor patients for signs of infection or other health issues.
Home healthcare agencies
Practical nurses working in home healthcare visit and care for patients in their homes. This can include providing a variety of services, including wound care, medication administration, and health education. They may also work with patients who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, to help manage their symptoms and improve their overall health.
Regardless of the healthcare environment, practical nurses play a critical role in providing compassionate care to patients and their families.
What Types of Patients do Practical Nurses Work With?
One of the best aspects of working as a practical nurse is working with people from all walks of life. There are so many different areas of specialty for practical nurses, and within those areas, there are even more diverse patient populations of people.
For example, in long-term care facilities, practical nurses may work with elderly patients with chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. In these vital roles, practical nurses provide invaluable medical support and emotional support to patients and their families.
If you’re a practical nurse working in a hospital, you could be working in a variety of different units, including the emergency room or intensive care unit. In both of these settings, the patients will range in age and diversity from across the spectrum.
For practical nurses working in mental health settings, you’ll be working with patients with a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia. These patients may require ongoing care and support, and practical nurses play a crucial role in their treatment and recovery.
No matter where a practical nurse works, there are sure to be patients from diverse backgrounds with unique medical needs. Practical nurse training prepares nurses to work with patients of all ages, cultures, and medical condition.
Work in a Team Environment
Practical nurses work closely with other healthcare professionals in a team environment. They work under the direct supervision of registered nurses, and collaborate with doctors, therapists, and other healthcare professionals to provide the best possible care for their patients. The team approach to healthcare is essential to ensuring that patients receive comprehensive care and that all aspects of their health and well-being are addressed.
In many ways, practical nurses are the ultimate team players because they not only provide integral support to the entire healthcare team, they also serve as patient advocates. They are often the first healthcare professional to notice changes in a patient’s condition and can alert other members of the healthcare team if intervention is necessary.
Provide Emotional Support to Patients and Families
Providing emotional support to patients and their families is a crucial aspect of a practical nurse’s job. After all, it’s not uncommon for patients to feel overwhelmed and anxious when they’re in the hospital, and practical nurses LPNs can make a big difference when it comes to putting patients at ease. By actively listening and offering words of comfort, practical nurses not only provide support to the patient but also to the family members. This can include answering questions, providing updates on the patient’s condition, and offering a listening ear.
Practical nurses also learn the importance of respecting the emotional and cultural differences of patients and their families. By providing a safe and supportive environment, practical nurses help patients, and their families feel heard and understood.
It’s safe to say that practical nurses really are the practical part of patient care. And no matter where your job happens to be, daily life as a practical nurse is not likely to be mundane. A career in practical nursing is an attractive option. If you’d like to learn more about practical nursing careers, check out the Practical Nursing at Caris College. With a 10-month accelerated program and hands-on experience in a real clinical setting, Caris is helping students launch careers in practical nursing. Contact us today for more information.