Do you have a desire to help others?  Are you an active listener with the ability to communicate with a wide array of people?  A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) plays an important role in patient care.  Working under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses, LPNs provide basic medical care to patients.  This may include teaching family members how to care for a relative; helping to deliver, care for, and feed infants; collecting samples for testing; and monitoring a patient’s health.  This is a starting point for many in the medical field.  It offers challenging work responsibilities, decent earnings, and plenty of room for advancement.

Career Overview

There are job opportunities for LPNs in nursing homes and extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, as well as private homes.  Although the duties of an LPN will vary depending on where they work, LPNs typically do the following:

  • Attain and record medical history of patients
  • Monitor patient vitals like blood pressure and temperature
  • Administer basic nursing care, including changing bandages and inserting catheters
  • Educate patient and patient’s family on preventative health care and medication management
  • Dispense doctor prescribed medication, begin and keep track of intravenous fluids for blockages, and monitor patients on breathing equipment such as ventilators
  • Assist patients with bathing, dressing, grooming, personal hygiene, walking and sitting
  • Report patients status to registered nurses and doctors

An exciting and rewarding career, the job of an LPN requires compassion, good communication and listening skills, mental stability, the ability to remain calm and handle stress.  What is often a starting or entry point in the field of nursing, LPNs can advance with additional schooling to become Charge Nurses, Registered Nurses (RN), and hold administrative positions.

Education and Licensure

Those wishing to pursue a career as an LPN must graduate from a Florida approved or accredited nursing education program.  The Florida Board of Nursing offers a list of training and education programs in Florida.  It includes an extensive list of both accredited as well as approved programs from which to choose from.

A practical nursing program requires one year of courses as well as hands-on practice in a clinical setting.  Coursework will include human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, clinical pharmacology, nutrition, CPR and first aid.  You will also get an overview of practice areas including medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, family medicine, obstetrics, and geriatrics.  The clinical portion of training is conducted in settings that routinely employ LPNs.  Here students will be able to provide direct patient care under the supervision of RNs.  This practical application of skills learned in the classroom also gives students the opportunity to determine the environment that they would like to work in upon graduation and identify possible employment opportunities.

Tuition to earn your education will vary depending on the school you choose for training.  Getting your LPN education at the local community college will cost around $4,000.   Earning your diploma from the Florida Academy of Nursing will cost substantially more at $18,350.  There are over 100 schools in varying locations in Florida to choose from, so take your time and find the program that is best for you.

Once you have graduated from a LPN program, you must then apply for licensure with the Florida Board of Nursing ($175 application and licensing fee) and register ($200 fee) for the National Licensing Exam for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN).  Once these two steps have been completed, you will be granted Authorization to Test (ATT).

The goal of the NCLEX-PN is to evaluate the skill set and knowledge of candidates to determine whether they meet the minimum professional standards to work successfully in the field.  Because the role of LPNs focuses on the direct care of patients, the exam is practical rather than theoretical in nature.  It is a computer based multiple choice exam that is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCBSN).

Once you have passed the NCLEX-PN exam and received your license, you must renew it every two years.  Renewal will require completion of 24 hours of continuing education courses.

Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs earned an average of $40,380 annually in 2010.  More recent salary data found on Salary.com, has LPNs earning $42,228 annually.  The median annual salaries for select major cities in Florida, according to Salary.com, fall just below the national average as shown below.

Fort Lauderdale $40,961
Tampa $39,694
Orlando $38,808
Tallahassee $38,596
Miami $41,426

 

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a growth rate of 22% for LPNs through 2020.  This is a much faster rate than is the case with most other career sectors.  Two main factors will contribute to the demand;

  • the aging population and their increased need for health care services due to acute and chronic illness, as well as accidents
  • procedures that previously could only be done in hospitals are now being done outside hospitals creating demand in other settings, such as outpatient centers

There are also a large number of LPNs that are expected to retire over the coming decade – opening up a greater number of opportunities for those entering the field.  Employment prospects will be best in facilities that cater to the elderly, including assisted living and nursing facilities, adult day programs, and home health care providers.

Ready to move towards a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse?  Review our list of nursing programs in Florida.  To find a school near you, enter the name of your city in the search box at the top of the page.