Now that you have decided to become an LPN you may want to know what the LPN job description actually is. Well, there are some basic things that most LPN nurses will have to do, and these things are listed below.
If there is anything in this article that you think that you will not be comfortable doing or that you think you will not be able to learn, then you may want to consider an alternative career as these things are unavoidable for most LPN nurses. The job description for LPN practitioners is actually more complex than you may think and there are many different things that fall under and LPNs scope of practice. Read through this article to find out more about the LPN job description.
One of the most basic things that an LPN has to do on a daily basis is to check and monitor a patient’s vital signs. The basic vital signs that you will have to look out for are:
- Blood pressure
- Respiratory rate
Basically you need to check that everything is normal regarding the four above-mentioned vital signs.
You may also be required to assess the pain levels of the patient. In some cases it may be your responsibility to monitor the following:
- Urinary continence
- End-tidal Co2
- Emotional distress
- Functional status
- Shortness of breath
- Gait speed
It is your job as an LPN to prepare things whenever they need to be prepared. This is one of the more boring but still very necessary parts of the LPN job description. If, for example, your patient is waiting to be examined it is your responsibility prepare the exam room. You will also need to prepare the patient for surgery if they are having any. This means physically preparing them as well as giving them the emotional support that they need to get through the ordeal. You basically just have to make sure that everything and everyone are ready on time.
Collecting Fluid Samples
Yes, part of the LPN job description entails that you have to take fluid samples when asked. And yes, this is just about as disgusting as it sounds. Here are some examples of bodily fluids that you may have to take samples of:
- Amniotic fluid
- Aqueous humor and vitreous humor
- Blood serum
- Breast milk
- Cerebro spinal fluid
- Cerumen (earwax)
- Endolymph and perilymph
- Gastric juice
- Mucus (including nasal drainage and phlegm)
- Peritoneal fluid
- Pleural fluid
- Sebum (skin oil)
If this is enough to put you off then you may want to consider an alternative line of work.
In a hospital or hospice setting and even n a doctor’s office you will be responsible for ensuring that the patient’s medication chart s kept up to date. This is the chart that states what medication the patient would take as well as things such as what medication he or she has already been given for the day. This is important in order to avoid overdosing the patient and to make sure that they get all of the medication that they need throughout the day. Mistakes in this regard can be very serious and even fatal so this part of the LPN job description actually gives you quite a lot of responsibility.
As an LPN you will need to have a working knowledge of first aid. This is so that you can respond to your patient instantly in an emergency situation. First aid basics include:
- Preserve life (including the first aider’s, who should never endanger his own life)
- Prevent further injury
- Promote recovery
You should also know how to check that the patient is not in immediate danger, check to see if the patient is conscious and able to respond to you, know who to call for help, check that the is breathing, check that the blood is circulating appropriately, and know how to deal with bleeding, fractures, and shock.
Preparing and Administering Injections and Enemas
Part of the LPN job involves preparing and administering medications that come in the forms of injections and enemas. Needless to say you will need to be comfortable around needles if you want to be able to this part of your job properly. If you feel squeamish around needles or if you are uncomfortable or disgusted by the thought of giving an enema then becoming a nurse is definitely not the career path for you. These are unavoidable parts of the job description for LPN nurses so if you can’t or won’t do it you can’t be an LPN.
Monitoring Equipments and Laboratory Items on a Regular Basis
The LPN job description partially entails that you monitor equipment. This means that you are responsible for ensuring that these items are packed away appropriately and that they are kept clean. You will also be responsible for making sure that they are in the right place at the right time. When the machinery is running it will be partially your responsibility, along with the RN overseeing you, to take note of the readouts the machines give as well as to make sure that the machines are working properly and giving accurate information at all times. It is always important that the information that a piece of equipment gives is double checked by an actual person.
Many patients in a hospital or hospice will be on an IV. This could be simply to ensure that they get the right medication directly into their veins, or it could be that they are unable to eat and drink and the IV is keeping them alive. Whatever the reason it will be your responsibility as the LPN on duty to monitor the IV. This includes:
- Changing the IV bag when it empties out
- Ensuring that the IV is working properly
- Ensuring that the correct substances are being administered through the IV
Again a fear of needles will exclude you form this part of the job.
Maintaining Patient Records
It is very important that patient records are carefully maintained. This is so that it is easy to look back and see what treatments the patient has previously received and what measures have previously been put into place. Part of the LPN job description involves maintaining these records appropriately. You will need to make sure that everything is filled in. information about the patient’s medical and family history as well as everything that has happened to the patient while they have been in your medical facility need to be included in these records. Accuracy and attention to detail are both essential in this regard.
Ensuring that your patients are clean is a very important part of being an LPN. This may not be the most glamorous part of the LPN job description but it is just as essential as healthcare. This includes things like:
- Washing your patient’s hair
- Assisting them in the bath or shower
- Brushing their teeth
- Changing their clothes
- If necessary washing them completely while they are still in bed
Many illnesses can be prevented simply by having a clean room or patient. If you allow the patient to maintain bad hygiene it will slow down their recovery and may also put them at risk of getting new illnesses.
Some patients will need daily massages; this is often the case when patients are bedridden and cannot move. In situations like these the patient is in danger of having arts of his or her body atrophy due to a lack of circulation. By massaging the patient and by turning them over and moving them in the bed if possible you will be ensuring that the patient’s circulation continues even if they cannot move. This will keep them happier and will prevent bedsores. Coma patients who can’t experience anything at all also need to be massaged daily. This is a very important part of the LPN job description.
Dressing wounds is an important part of the LPN job description and in several ways is related to hygiene. It is important that a patient’s wound is dressed properly so that it can heal more quickly. The wound also needs to be changed regularly otherwise it will become dirty and that will put your patient at risk of developing an infection. This is something that the job description for LPN nurses is very clear about. It is your responsibility to ensure that your patient’s wound is properly dressed at all times. You will need to know when to change the dressing without being told. This is knowledge you will gain during training.
In some cases your LPN job description will require you to provide a patient with care in their own home. This is often the case with elderly patients who don’t really need to be committed to the hospital but who nevertheless cannot take care of themselves on a daily basis. All of the other tasks mentioned in this article also apply to a home based situation. However n a home-based situation you may in addition be required to do things like some minor cooking or cleaning just to keep the home up and running. A lot of LPNs prefer the job description for LPN nurses working patients’ homes, so this may be something worth considering.
Continuously Reading and Upgrading Your Level of Knowledge
It is your responsibility to ensure that you continually improve your nursing knowledge. When it comes time to renew your LPN license you will also have to present proof that you have done a certain number of hours of continuous training in order to keep yourself at top quality. Don’t look on this as a trial but rather as a way to improve your knowledge in the field of nursing, become better at your job, and improve your chances of advancement in the future. Continuing education ensures that the overall quality of the profession is kept at a very high standard at all times.
Observing Patients’ Reactions to Medications
Part of the LPN job description involves observing the reactions of patients to medications. Look out for things like the following:
- Does the patient have an adverse reaction of some kind to the medication?
- Does the patient have no reaction at all to the medication?
- Does the patient react in exactly the correct manner to the medication?
You will then also need to report your observations to an RN or to the doctor who is in charge of the case. Your role in this regard is very important as in many cases it may be the difference between whether your patient makes a full recovery or not.
As an LPN you will not have a lot of power. You will be able to give orders to CNAs, but apart from that the only orders that you will deal with are the ones that you will have t obey. You need to be aware from the beginning that you will need to take orders from your physician (as well as from any RNs on duty). Remember though that there are certain things that you are not allowed to do even if someone in charge orders you to do them. You need to be aware of your scope of practice as an LPN so that you can fulfill the LPN job description without overstepping your boundaries.
Food and Water
A very basic part of the LPN job description involves making sure that your patients receive enough food and drink. This is more than simply carrying them a tray of food. You also need to make sure that they actually eat enough. Watch them closely and make sure that they are getting enough food and water into their systems. If they refuse to eat, or if for some reason they are unable to eat, it will be your responsibility to alert others and ensure that the patient is given sustenance in some other way. This is one of the easier items on the job description for LPN nurses.
As part of the LPN job description you will need to provide emotional support to:
- Your patient: they are going through a difficult time and need someone to be there for them
- The patient’s family: the family of the patient are also suffering and struggling to deal with the situation, so be there for them as well
- Your colleagues: just like you your colleagues may be feeling the stress of working in a care environment – if you’re there for them, they’ll also be there for you
If you don’t have the right personality for this then you may want to consider another line of work instead.
Teaching Families to Care for Sick or Injured Relatives as well as Teaching the Patient to Care for Himself or Herself
Often patients who leave the hospital will need to undergo continuous care once they get home. Part of your LPN job description involves teaching:
- Your patient
- The patient’s friends and family
Everything they need to know in order to ensure that the patient is well cared for once he or she is back home. Teaching of this kind takes skills that not everyone has, so think carefully about this part of the job description for LPN nurses. Do you think you have what it takes to communicate in this way with patients and their families? If not then this is not the best line of work for you.
Maintaining Good and Healthy Relationships with Patients and Their Families
This involves having good interpersonal skills. You need to know how to have a good relationship for a temporary period of time with the patients and their families. If you are good at starting and maintaining relationships of this kind then you are the right person for the job. In addition you also need to be able to have a good relationship with every one of your colleagues, form the CNAs under you to the doctor in charge of the case. The best way to ensure that everyone works together well in the best interests of the patient is by maintaining healthy relationships with everyone that is working on the patient’s case. Again if you don’t think you have the right personality for this, look elsewhere for a career.
Right, so now you have read through all of the things that an average LPN will be required to do on a daily basis. This means that you are better equipped to make a decision about whether or not this is the best line of work for you. If you feel that you will be able to manage the LPN job description and that you may even enjoy working in this way, then by all means go ahead and become an LPN. If on the other hand you are uncertain, think carefully before committing to this career.