The Vital Role of LPNs in Healthcare


Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) play a crucial role in healthcare. As key members of the nursing team, LPNs provide basic medical and personal care for patients. This allows Registered Nurses (RNs) to focus on more complex nursing tasks. With rising demand for healthcare services, the role of LPNs will expand. This article explores the vital LPN role.

LPN Education Requirements and Scope

LPNs must complete a 1-year accredited program. Course topics include nursing skills, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and clinical experience. After graduating, LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to gain licensure. The scope of LPN practice varies by state. But LPNs often provide basic bedside care. This includes:

  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Changing wound dressings
  • Inserting catheters
  • Collecting samples
  • Administering medications

LPN Daily Responsibilities

A typical LPN shift starts with receiving handoff reports from prior nurses. LPNs then:

  • Care for 4-6 assigned patients
  • Take vital signs
  • Administer medications
  • Update charts
  • Assist with activities of daily living

For example, LPNs may bathe patients, help them get dressed, or feed them meals. LPNs also report changes to supervising RNs. When the shift ends, LPNs provide detailed reports to oncoming nurses.

LPN Job Settings

LPNs work in diverse healthcare settings, including:


LPNs care for patients with a broad range of conditions. Tasks may include wound care, specimen collection, medication administration, and operation of medical equipment.

Nursing Care Facilities:

In nursing homes, LPNs provide around-the-clock care for geriatric residents. This involves passing daily medications, changing dressings, and helping with mobility.

Physician Offices:

LPNs assist doctors with procedures, take vitals, give injections, dress wounds, and complete administrative tasks.

Home Health Services:

LPN home care aids ill, injured, or elderly clients. LPNs deliver skilled nursing services, including tube feedings, pain management, and changed dressings.

LPN Specializations

Some LPNs pursue specialties like:

  • Geriatrics: Caring for elderly patients
  • Oncology: Working with cancer patients
  • Cardiology: Supporting cardiology units
  • Surgery: Assisting in the operating room

Specialized LPNs gain deeper expertise to better serve their patient population.

The LPN Role on the Nursing Team

Within nursing teams, LPNs collaborate closely with RNs and nursing assistants. Each role contributes unique strengths:

  • Nursing Assistants: Provide supportive care and help patients with daily living activities. No licensure required.
  • LPNs: Deliver basic medical care, monitor patients, and report to RNs. 1-year training.
  • RNs: Lead care planning and coordination. Responsible for complex care. 2-4 year degree.

With their year of training, LPNs offer more advanced skills than nursing assistants. At the same time, LPNs take direction from RNs who have greater assessment, decision-making and care coordination capabilities.

Expanding Future LPN Roles

Due to rising rates of chronic illness, America faces a growing shortage of medical care providers. It’s estimated that over 200,000 additional LPNs will be needed in the US by 2026. Healthcare systems are recognizing the vital role LPNs can play in filling provider gaps.

Some ways that LPN roles may expand include:

  • Greater use of LPNs in outpatient settings
  • Increased autonomy for experienced LPNs
  • Specialized LPN roles in care coordination


LPNs are critical healthcare team members that provide frontline bedside care. Their basic medical skills allow RNs to take on more advanced duties. With the expected growth in LPN positions, their role will only increase in the years ahead. LPNs deliver compassionate support that enables better outcomes for countless patients.

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