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Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Career Information


Licensed Vocational Nurses, also known as Licensed Practical Nurses provide very basic care and assistance to patients under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.  They record vitals, collect samples, help patients with simple tasks like eating and getting up to use the restroom.  They monitor patients and provide feedback for their registered nurse or physician.  They help perform laboratory tests, clean and monitor medical equipment, and help registered nurses and doctors perform medical procedures. Experienced Licensed Vocational Nurses often supervise nursing aides and assistants.

To become a Licenced Vocational Nurse, you will need to complete a state approved training program in practical nursing.  Most such courses require a high school diploma or equivalent.  These programs are usually available at local technical and junior colleges, though still more programs may be available through high schools, colleges, universities, and hospitals.  After completing the course, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed.  

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics the median average annual wages of a Licensed Vocational Nurse was $39,030 in 2008.  The job is projected to grow faster than average, 21% between 2008 and 2018.  

Most Licensed Vocational Nurses provide care for patients in hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, and in physicians' offices.  They also work for in-home care services, community services for the elderly, outpatient care clinics, and government services.  Most Licenced Vocational Nurses are generalists, though some do specialize in their area of choice.  Some of these nurses may advance to become charge nurses in some workplaces, overseeing their counterparts.  There are also programs to train Licensed Vocational Nurses to become registered nurses, sometimes through your current employer.  

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