If you would like to enter the field of nursing, it is important to learn about all of the specialty areas that you can choose while you are in a formal nursing program. All nurses must complete general nursing education, but those who would like to specialize in a key area within the field may need to take more focused core courses. One area of nursing that is becoming extremely popular as the demand for healthcare services increases is practical nursing. If you are interested in becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, read on and find out what your role will be hospitals, healthcare centers, physicians’ offices, clinics, and 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. While Registered Nurses have more responsibility when it comes to administering medications, you as a clinician working in practical nursing will spend more hands-on time with your patients. You may assess a patient’s condition, change dressings, and 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 in order to stay healthy and out of the hospital once they are discharged. It is common for LPNs to teach families how to change a wound dressing, how to monitor medications and 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 and 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 will thoroughly review a care plan and 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. Since nurses in this specialty need to be able to communicate with RNs, supervisors, physicians, therapists, dietitians and 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 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for professionals will grow by 25% by 2022. To become a practical nurse, you will need to complete a state-approved program. After you spend a year studying, pass a licensing exam and you can start to work in an entry-level role.