If you would like to enter the field of nursing, it’s important to learn about all of the specialty areas that you can choose while you’re in a formal nursing program. All nurses must complete general nursing education. But those who want to specialize in a key area in the field may need to take more focused core courses. One area of nursing that is becoming popular as the demand for healthcare services increases is practical nursing.
If you’re interested in becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, read on. Find out what your role will be in:
- healthcare centers
- physicians’ offices
- hospice agencies
Practical Nurses and Their Role as Clinicians
A nurse who works as a clinician is a nursing professional who provides medical care to patients. Registered Nurses have more responsibility when it comes to administering medications. A clinician working in practical nursing will spend more hands-on time with their patients. You may:
- assess a patient’s condition
- change dressings
- assist with personal care
Practical nursing professionals are often called the eyes and the ears of RNs and physicians.
Advocating for Patients and Managing Care Plans
In addition to being a clinician, a practical nurse will act as a manager and an advocate. Many patients need health education to stay healthy and out of the hospital once they are discharged. It’s common for LPNs to teach families:
- how to change a wound dressing
- how to monitor medications
- how to alter the plan based on different learning styles
You may manage a care plan and explain why the plan is important in a busy healthcare environment. You may also advocate for the patient with other staff members or with family members so that their rights are protected.
A Support System and a Counselor
Often times, a patient’s family cannot stay in the hospital with their loved one around the clock. When a patient is ill, it can take an emotional toll on them. This stress affects their ability to recover and get better. Practical nursing professionals may lend an ear and also help counsel patients on their options regarding treatment for their condition. They will act as researchers who thoroughly review a care plan. They may look for alternatives to the ordered treatment based on solutions used in the past.
Practical Nursing Requires Consulting and Collaboration
Communication is key in practical nursing. Nurses in this specialty need to be able to communicate with:
- any other part of the team caring for the patient
Anyone who enters this line of work needs to have excellent communication skills. Practical nursing makes you in essence a consultant and also a collaborator who is an important part of a huge team tasked with solving serious problems.
Many believe that practical nurses provide basic nursing care, but their roles go beyond just that. Since healthcare reform took effect, the field is growing faster than ever. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for professionals will grow by 25%. To become a practical nurse, you will need to complete a state-approved program. After you spend a year studying and pass a licensing exam, you can start to work in an entry-level role.