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Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
In some employment settings, such as nursing homes, LPNs can advance to become charge nurses who oversee the work of other LPNs and nursing aides.

LPNs may become credentialed in specialties like IV therapy, gerontology, long-term care, and pharmacology.

Some LPNs also choose to become registered nurses through LPN-to-RN training programs.

Employment
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses held about 753,600 jobs in 2008. About 25 percent of LPNs worked in hospitals, 28 percent in nursing care facilities, and another 12 percent in offices of physicians. Others worked for home healthcare services; employment services; residential care facilities; community care facilities for the elderly; outpatient care centers; and Federal, State, and local government agencies.

Job Outlook
Employment of LPNs is projected to grow much faster than average. Overall job prospects are expected to be very good, but job outlook varies by industry. The best job opportunities will occur in nursing care facilities and home healthcare services.

Job Growth
Employment of LPNs is expected to grow by 21 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations, in response to the long-term care needs of an increasing elderly population and the general increase in demand for healthcare services.

Demand for LPNs will be driven by the increase in the share of the older population. Older persons have an increased incidence of injury and illness, which will increase their demand for healthcare services. In addition, with better medical technology, people are living longer, increasing the demand for long-term healthcare. Job growth will occur over all healthcare settings but especially those that service the geriatric population like nursing care facilities, community care facilities, and home healthcare services.

In order to contain healthcare costs, many procedures once performed only in hospitals are being performed in physicians' offices and in outpatient care centers, largely because of advances in technology. As a result, the number of LPNs should increase faster in these facilities than in hospitals. Nevertheless, hospitals will continue to demand the services of LPNs and will remain one of the largest employers of these workers.

In addition to projected job growth, job openings will result from replacement needs, as many workers leave the occupation permanently. Very good job opportunities are expected. Rapid employment growth is projected in most healthcare industries, with the best job opportunities occurring in nursing care facilities and in home healthcare services. There is a perceived inadequacy of available healthcare in many rural areas, so LPNs willing to locate in rural areas should have good job prospects.

Earnings
Median annual wages of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were $39,030 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $33,360 and $46,710. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $53,580.


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