Over the past five to seven years, jobs in the LPN profession have shifted from the hospital to private clinics, doctor’s offices, and long-term care facilities. In some instances, hospitals are cutting out LPN jobs in favor of a staff of all RNs, because studies indicate that improved patient outcomes, safety, and overall satisfaction are connected to the staffing of experienced Registered Nurses with bachelor’s degrees.
It is a 2020 goal of the Institute of Medicine that eighty percent of RNs practicing in hospitals will hold bachelor’s degrees. Since the difference between an LPN and RN is the type of training they receive, many hospitals that are eliminating LPN positions are also offering displaced LPNs an opportunity to earn an advanced degree.
Not only will hospitals, but nursing care facilities will reimburse tuition to LPNs who want to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. By offering part-time schedules and special programs designed specifically to train LPNs to become RNs, colleges and nursing schools also now accommodate nursing students.
Some two-year colleges have even developed what are called bridge programs for LPNs who desire to earn an associate’s degree in nursing and then enter in their third semester into the regular RN program.
RN programs are more theoretical while LPN programs are more clinically focused. For instance, RNs learn about various medical conditions and their symptoms and treatments. On the other hand, LPNs learn the how-to’s of certain tasks, like administering medication and caring for various types of patients.
LPNs tend to many of the basic tasks associated with nursing, such as taking and recording a patient’s blood pressure, pulse rate, and temperature. An LPN also changes bandages when needed and takes steps to insure her patients’ basic comfort is met by assisting them with dressing and/or bathing. An LPN also teaches patients and family members how to manage a particular illness, and she further works with RNs and doctors in implementing patient care programs.
Therefore, LPNs who do not opt to return to college are amply qualified to work in nursing care facilities and physicians’ offices. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, most LPNs already work in these health care positions, with twenty-nine percent of LPNs employed in nursing facilities. It is not surprising with a median annual income of $40,380 in 2010 and favorable job prospects, that LPN programs are extremely desirable to students pursuing a job in the nursing profession.
Even though it appears hospitals are giving LPNs the boot, in reality the future looks bright for that profession. Because advancements in the health care field continue to extend life expectancy, more demand now exists for long-term skilled care and personal care facilities, which rely heavily on the services of LPNs.
When health care reform is fully implemented, the system will be inundated with patients who need care, and every LPN and every RN will be in demand. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, demand for LPNs is expected to increase by twenty-two percent within the next eight years.
For further information on this topic, you can access a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article at http://www.stltoday.com/lpn-jobs-moving-out-of-hospitals/article_09b667e2-f2dc-5751-9ed6-876d05ee29cf.html.