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What Is a Licensed Practical Nurse — and Should You Become One?

For many students, Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) can be a dream position. It’s a career that allows nurses to care for others and nurture strong relationships with their colleagues. It even makes economic sense with the demand for nurses expected to grow by 9.1% over the next decade. This blog post will explore what the job entails in detail so you can decide if a career as an LPN is the best choice for you.

Exploring the Responsibilities and Duties of a Licensed Practical Nurse

Working under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RNs) and doctors, LPNs ensure the delivery of high-quality care to patients across various healthcare settings including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home health environments. Their role is multifaceted, encompassing a wide range of responsibilities and duties aimed at supporting patient health and wellness.

Basic Nursing Care

One of the primary responsibilities of LPNs is to provide basic nursing care to patients. This includes tasks like monitoring vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration), administering injections, helping with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene, ensuring patients are comfortable, and assisting with mobility. Their direct care role is crucial in maintaining the well-being of patients, especially those who may be unable to care for themselves.

Medication Administration

LPNs are often responsible for administering medications to patients, and they need to be meticulous in ensuring that patients receive the correct medications at the right times. They must also monitor patients for any adverse reactions to medications.

Wound Care

Wound care is another important duty of LPNs. They clean and dress wounds, monitor healing, and prevent infection. This aspect of their work is particularly significant in post-operative care and for patients with chronic wounds.

Patient Education

Educating patients and their families about health conditions, medication, nutrition, and lifestyle changes is an essential part of an LPN’s duties. Effective communication skills are necessary to convey complex information in an understandable way, fostering patient compliance with accessible treatment plans and promoting healthier choices.

Supportive Care

LPNs provide emotional support to patients and their families, helping them navigate the challenges of illness, recovery, and long-term care. This includes listening to concerns, offering reassurance, and being an advocate for patients in discussions with other healthcare professionals.

Collaboration With Healthcare Teams

LPNs work alongside RNs, doctors, and other healthcare professionals to deliver comprehensive care. They participate in care planning and coordination, offering insights based on their close interactions with patients. This collaborative approach ensures that patient care is holistic and responsive to individual needs.

The Path to Becoming an LPN: Education, Training, and Licensing Requirements

To become an LPN, aspiring professionals need to follow a specific educational and training path, as well as meet licensing requirements. This journey can be demanding, but it’s designed to ensure that LPNs are fully prepared to provide safe, effective, and high-quality nursing care.


The first step is to obtain a high school diploma or GED. Following this, candidates must complete a state-approved LPN program, usually offered by technical colleges or vocational schools. These programs combine classroom education with clinical experience and cover subjects such as biology, nursing, and pharmacology, among others. The duration of the program can vary, but most can be completed in one to two years.


During the LPN program, students receive practical training in a clinical environment under the supervision of experienced healthcare professionals. This hands-on experience allows them to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world settings, working with patients and providing basic nursing care. The training also provides a valuable opportunity to learn and develop essential soft skills such as communication, empathy, and teamwork.


After completing their LPN program, candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (the NCLEX-PN), a national standardized exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). This exam tests the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for entry-level nursing practice.

Once students pass the NCLEX-PN, they must apply for licensing from their state nursing board, the requirements for which can vary from state to state. Some states may also require continuing education for license renewal.

Is Becoming an LPN Right for You? 

Deciding to become an LPN is a personal choice that depends on your interests, strengths, and career aspirations. If you have a compassionate nature, enjoy helping others, and have a strong interest in the healthcare field, a career as an LPN might be a fitting choice. If you’re motivated by the idea of playing a critical role in patient care within a dynamic and rewarding industry, becoming an LPN could indeed be the right path for you.

Explore how the programs at HCI College can help you achieve your career goal of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse.  

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