In the world of nursing there are basically four levels:
Nursing Assistant (NA) – After a very brief 4-16 week training, NAs are positioned to help patients perform the most basic daily tasks (e.g. bathing, feeding, vital signs, observation)
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – LPNs have completed a one- to two-year program culminating in passing the national licensure exam. LPNs are often front-line caregivers in nursing homes, extended and skilled care facilities, rehabilitation centers and community settings.
Registered Nurse (RN) – RNs have earned an associate degree or bachelor’s degree allowing them to make more critical decisions on the job, often positioning them more in the hospital setting.
Advanced Practice RNs (ARN) – ARNs have earned a master’s degree in nursing and typically fall into 4 specialized categories: Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nurse Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.The Chester County Intermediate Unit Practical Nursing Program (PNP) is focused on preparing students to become an LPN. According to the National League for Nursing, “LPNs play a significant role in meeting the needs of older adults and other vulnerable groups.” As mentioned above, they are often front-line caregivers in nursing homes, extended and skilled care facilities, rehabilitation centers and community settings. However, the scope of an LPN’s work is not limited to these settings. They also have careers working with ventilator-dependent children at home, with those in prisons or drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities and with families in urgent care settings
Benefits of being an LPN
Why look at being an LPN versus jumping in as an RN? There are a number of opportunities and benefits for those opting to start their nursing career as an LPN, including:
High demand occupation
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) reported that employment of LPNs is expected to grow 16 percent by 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.
By 2020, an estimated 12 million older Americans will need long-term care (Medicare, 2009). To provide care for these individuals, the demand for health care workers is projected to increase (BLS, 2012). Currently, 70 percent of licensed care in nursing homes is provided by the LPN workforce (Corazzini, Anderson, Mueller, McConnell, Landerman, Thorpe, Shorti, 2011).
In a recent survey of Chester County healthcare providers, 100% of the hiring organizations have at least one LPN position open for hire at any given time with over 35% having four or more positions open.
LPNs have the unique advantage of being marketable across multiple healthcare settings allowing you the ability to really see where your interests and strengths lie. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) reports that 38% of LPNs work in nursing care facilities, 17% in hospitals, 13% in doctor’s offices, and 11% in home health. For RNs, hospitals are the most common setting, with 61% in state, local or private hospitals.
In the long term care setting, LPNs have opportunities to quickly move up in ranks, often supervising nursing assistants (NAs). The NLN reported in 2011 that newly licensed LPNs in long term care were almost six times as likely to have administrative responsibilities as their counterparts in hospitals were.
Faster entry into nursing
You’ve made the decision you want to be a nurse and you’re ready to jump in and start gaining experience. PNP is set-up not only to provide you clinical rotation experience early and often, but you’ll be in the nursing field earning an average salary of $40,000/year in as little as 14-15 months.
What does this mean for you? With a smaller financial and time commitment you can gain experience that will help you further determine whether this is indeed the career path for you or help you determine if you want to further your education and/or specialize or even try a different field entirely.
Increased education assistance
In a recent survey of Chester County healthcare providers, close to 75% offer tuition reimbursement, scholarships or grant funds for LPNs to further their education. So, if you do decide to move forward and become an RN you have the potential of having your employer assist you financially rather than trying to do it on your own.
Don’t take our word for it…listen to some of our PNP graduates: