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4 Common Misconceptions About LPNs

If you’re considering a career in healthcare as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) you might have come across some of the persistent misconceptions about this profession. These misconceptions may even be a reason why you’re second-guessing your decision to enter an LPN program.

LPNs are healthcare professionals who carry out many important healthcare functions, including administering basic patient care, monitoring the health and vital signs of patients, tracking patient data and records, and educating patients regarding their treatment and care.

LPNs have to complete specific nursing training and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Overall, it’s a field of nursing that involves a lot of hands-on patient care, requiring a lot of direct interaction with patients and fellow healthcare professionals.

Taking this nursing path holds a lot of appeal. For starters, it allows students to get their foot in the door quickly and get started in a job where you feel like you’re making a real difference in your community and the lives of your patients.

To set the record straight, here’s a rundown of the common misconceptions and half-truths that may be holding you back from pursuing a thriving career in healthcare as an LPN.

1. Becoming an LPN Is Just a Stepping Stone to Becoming an RN

While it’s true that an LPN program is one of the fastest routes you can take to becoming a nurse, not all aspiring LPNs consider the job as simply a stepping stone to becoming a registered nurse (RN). Many recognize the value of LPN training as a way to fulfill a lifelong dream of starting a thriving career in healthcare while contributing in a meaningful way to their community. The best part is that it takes a lot less time to achieve all this compared to pursuing a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The LPN program at HCI, for example, can be completed in around 12 months. Combine that shorter yet comprehensive training period with earning potential, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) pegs at over $47,000 per year, and you can see why people recognize LPN programs as more than just a temporary stop to becoming an RN.

2. LPNs Aren’t Real Nurses

Despite having different titles, RNs and LPNs are both legitimate professions that fall under the umbrella of nursing. There are fundamental differences in the overall scope of practice between both fields, however. These usually vary depending on which state you’re practicing in and your employer. However, these shouldn’t, by any means, discount the importance and relevance of their individual tasks.

LPNs perform a lot of important nursing duties that allow them to demonstrate their theoretical and clinical skills and quick decision-making abilities. This highlights the fact that LPNs are more than just assistants. Additionally, ongoing hands-on experience adds to their learned skills.

Quite simply, LPNs are bona fide nurses who play a critical role in patient treatment and care.

3. There Are Limited Opportunities for LPNs

The BLS projects LPN positions to increase by 9% from 2019 to 2029, a rate that translates to roughly 65,700 additional LPNs during that period.

Like other roles in healthcare, LPN careers can advance with experience and seniority. LPNs can also opt to pursue post-licensure certifications across various other fields in healthcare such as long-term care or pharmacology. You can also choose to expand your scope of practice through supplemental nursing education.

4. LPNs Play Less Important Roles in the Medical World

This is a common misconception that couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter what your role or title is, every single member of a healthcare team serves a specific purpose and role in patient care. This includes LPNs, whose expertise, training, and experience are valuable assets to their employers and their overall patient care strategy.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an RN or LPN, both require the same level of diligence, intelligence, and dedication. Like similar professions in healthcare, they are required to pass stringent licensing exams and earn their certifications. Their performance in the workplace will demonstrate their competence as a professional nurse, regardless of their title.

Bottom Line

The role of an LPN is important and highly valued in-patient care. Becoming an LPN—whether you are indeed doing it as a stepping stone towards becoming an RN or to start a thriving career as a nurse—allows you to make a living doing what you love while making a real difference in patients’ lives.