What is an LVN?

If you are considering a career in nursing, you’re in luck: there are many well-paying, fulfilling options for you to choose from.

While you may have heard of a registered nurse or RN, there are several different “levels” of nursing that you might want to look into before committing to a lengthy RN or BSN program. One of these is the Licensed Vocational Nursing, or Licensed Practical Nursing degree. In contrast to being a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner, the LVN scope of practice is slightly different.

“As an instructor, I must know my students individually. Teaching them how to think what is right and how to make good decisions. We encourage them to be strong and to be persistent. We guide our students the way of nursing: to be humble, kind, compassionate, and sympathetic. We help students to change their lives for the better.” – Victor Obillo, LVN Instructor  

Below is an outline that details the career of an LVN, how someone might start their LVN education, why licensed vocational nursing is a healthcare profession in demand, and more:

What is a Licensed Vocational Nurse?

You could think of a licensed vocational nurse as the first “level” of nursing. LVNs carry out multiple daily duties of keeping patient records, assisting RNs in providing patients education on their medical conditions, and checking patients’ vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation level, and heart rate.
In addition to these medical-related duties, an LVN might help a patient complete basic hygiene tasks, such as dressing, bathing, or brushing teeth. LVNs might supervise nursing assistants, who have completed a training program in helping nurses care for patients.
The LVN title implies, as you may have guessed, that that person has completed a nursing program and holds a nursing license.

How are LVNs Different from RNs?

All levels or nurses are involved in patient care, recovery, and maintenance, but each type of nurse has different education and therefore different responsibilities.
Registered nurses usually earn a two-year Associates degree or a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, and their education is more science-based: they might take classes in anatomy, biology and chemistry, psychology, and nutrition to best care for patients in their charge.
Licensed vocational nurses can complete their education – which is a combination of coursework and hands-on training in several aspects of patient care – in as little as a year at some community colleges.
Because LVN coursework is not as in-depth as RN coursework, LVNs must work under the supervision of an RN.

What LVN Programs Are Available?

So, you’re leaning towards the LVN career path – what’s next?
What type of education will lead you to this degree?
You’ll need to have completed a high school education, but if you have not yet obtained your high school diploma, don’t worry – nursing is not out of reach for you.
Be sure to inquire about our high school completion program. Most LVNs start with a one-year degree or an Associates’ degree from a community college.
As detailed above, LVN education includes coursework in several areas that overlap with the RN degree. If you’re looking at LVN Programs in San Bernardino, Summit College’s LVN coursework specifically includes:

  • Clinical Skills
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics
  • Patient Education

These courses will provide you with a great foundation of the LVN scope of practice as well as the obstacles you might encounter when caring for all types of patients.
Remember: LVNs can work in many settings, so it’s best to have exposure to many different patient scenarios before your first official day on the job!

What Kinds of LVN Jobs Are Out There?

You could find employment in nursing homes, hospitals, long-term care facilities, doctor’s offices, and you also have the option of working in private care in somebody’s home.
As you can see, you have the option of choosing a setting that will allow you to tailor your career to your lifestyle. If you don’t like the hustle and bustle of a large facility like a hospital, you can choose a home health setting. If you would prefer to work with seniors and not children, you have many options to find work in a nursing home or extended care facility – both of which employ a large number of LVNs.
Because the Baby Boomer population is aging, the career options for LVNs who wish to work with the elderly or in nursing homes are expected to grow rapidly over the next decade, as many of these seniors will need full-time care.
If you don’t see yourself working in an assisted living facility, there are still several options for you: do you prefer the medical side of care, like taking blood pressure and giving injections? You might want to work in a private doctor’s office. If blood makes you feel squeamish, consider working in mental health.
Psychiatric hospitals, or inpatient care facilities for people with acute mental health issues require LVN assessment to help develop treatment plans for patients, make sure the patients’ rooms are safe, and assist patients in their daily recovery. The LVN career has an ideal workplace for nearly every personality.

LVN Salary and Other Benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LVNs earn approximately $48,070 a year in a full-time position, which translates to $23.11 per hour for those who wish to work part-time.
Part-time work is very possible for those wishing to pursue an LVN career. So are non-traditional shifts: If you have small children, for example, you might wish to work three or four 12-hour shifts a week, pick up shifts later at night, or work only on weekends so you can maximize the time you spend with your family during the week.

What Are the Pros of Being an LVN?

Close relationships with patients, great entry-level salaries, and excellent job security might top the list.
If you’re the type of person who is a team player, can multitask well, and has a love for both people and science – an LVN career might be a perfect starting point for your nursing career.
Additionally, if you want to advance your degree to the RN level at any point, there are several options for you to do so.
Many colleges and universities offer an LVN-to-RN degree, which results in a Bachelor of Science in nursing and gives you the RN license.
Your options are numerous. Contact Summit College today to begin your education as an LVN.