Obtaining your Licensed Practical Nurse qualification is an easy and quick way to enter the nursing profession, but there are many specialized programs for LPNs that can improve your career prospects and salary. Most LPNS start off their careers in a hospital or clinical setting, and some work for a few years before studying further to gain their Registered Nurse qualification, but that is not the only way to go.
Licensed Practical Nurses are needed everywhere that medical care is required, such as emergency rooms, schools, clinics, long-term care facilities and clinics to name but a few. They are responsible for doing all the basic care such as taking vital signs, drawing blood, monitoring patients’ reactions to medication, assisting patients with their personal grooming and generally seeing that they are comfortable.
There are in excess of 60 specialized programs for LPNs according to the Mayo Clinic, and choosing one or more of them will definitely make your nursing career more interesting and make you far more marketable to employers who are looking for nurses who are dedicated enough to study further and gain some of the special skills required. Some of the popular nursing specialties are Pediatrics, Oncology, Geriatrics, IV Care, Home Health Care, Neonatology and Long-term Care.
Here are a few more specialized programs for LPNs in order to give you some information as what the work entails so that you will be able to make an informed decision as to where your interests lie and which specialties would be of interest to you.
Ambulatory Care Nursing
Ambulatory care nursing is an integral component of cost-effective, high quality health care. Ambulatory care nurses make quick focused assessments of patients, generally in outpatient settings where they are required to respond to high volumes and deal with issues that are often not predictable.
They often foster long-term relationships with their patients and their families due to the fact that they translate instructions for care into doable activities for the patient and are often called on to teach the patient and/or their family how to do the activities in order that the patient can recuperate and get well quicker. The specialty spans all populations and the care given ranges from wellness to prevention, illness and support for the dying and terminally ill patients.
The exam is computer-based and certification is valid for a period of 5 years from the date that it is issued.
Certified Nurse Midwife
A certified nurse midwife is an advanced practice nurse who works in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals or home-birth centers. They offer a wide range of primary care services to women, including providing routine gynecological and prenatal care, including conception and preconception, and assisting with the labor and delivery, gynecological care, and menopause and aging.
In order to access these specialized programs for LPNs you will need to first get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but this is not that difficult and can be quickly attained with a LPN to BSN bridge program. There are also distance-learning programs available so that you can continue to work whilst studying. A quick search on the Internet will deliver links to many of these programs in all areas of the country, but be sure that whichever school you attend, the course is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.
Some states require additional licenses or certification, so make sure that you check what the requirements are for the state in which you wish to practice.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Certified registered nurse anesthetists work in a team alongside medical professionals such as anesthesiologists, dentists, ophthalmologists, podiatrists and surgeons. They administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical procedures and also provide pain-management services. CRNAs conduct pre-anesthetic evaluations, administer anesthesia and provide post-anesthesia care. They can deliver local, general or regional anesthesia, and may also administer intravenous sedation. They also monitor patients recovering from anesthesia, give drugs or fluids, provide pain relief therapy and provide ventilator support if required.
CRNAs often work in rural areas, providing much-needed services to those who are traditionally medically underserved. In most states they work under the supervision and direction of a physician, but may work independently in some states.
It is necessary to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a related bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible to take one of these specialized programs for LPNs. Training will include clinical experience at a hospital or other clinical facility.
Diabetes Management Nurse
Diabetes management nurses have developed an extensive knowledge of the body’s endocrine system and its relationship to diabetes. Their main objective is to educate patients and their families about diabetes, advice on exercise, diet and medication and monitoring insulin levels, and impart self-management skills to them.
Diabetes management nurses often work in outpatient clinics or travel to regional or rural areas to hold clinics. They work closely with physicians, pharmacists and various other healthcare professionals. They monitor glucose levels, advise on injecting medications, and administer insulin and tablets if the patient is unable to do so.
One of the specialized programs for LPNs that is offered by the American Association of Diabetes Educators is the Board Certified Advanced Diabetes Management certification. The program covers complex health issues, pathophysiology, health assessment, drug administration, pain intervention and nursing care for adults.
Emergency / Trauma Nurse
Emergency/Trauma Nurses work in hospitals or stand-alone emergency departments. They provide an initial assessment of patients with potentially life-threatening conditions as a result of work-related injuries, motor vehicle accidents or even suicide attempts. They administer emergency procedures such as cardio pulmonary resuscitation and code blue. They need to be able to work under pressure and handle complex and difficult situations whilst acting fast and thinking on their feet.
Emergency/Trauma Nurses can become qualified to serve as transport nurses working on ambulances, helicopters, or airplanes or in urgent care centers, cruise ships, or sports arenas. They serve patients of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Their role in emergency situations is vital to a patient’s critical health so they largely work very independently. Emergency/trauma nurses also often work as educators promoting bicycle safety, child passenger safety, alcohol awareness, and programs that educate women about domestic violence.
An LPN can become an emergency/trauma nurse by completing one of the specialized programs for LPNs that are offered by many reputable and accredited institutions. Gaining experience in a fast-paced environment, becoming an intern in a hospital emergency room or shadowing an emergency nurse while she works all help in your quest to obtain your qualification as an emergency nurse.
Forensic nursing is one of the most interesting specialized programs for LPNs in that it involves caring for perpetrators and victims of crime whilst collecting forensic evidence connected to the crime. Forensic nurses work as part of a legal team and assist police investigations and provide consultation services to other medical personnel, law agencies and the Courts. A Forensic Nurse works mainly in the laboratory but may also travel to various crime scenes, hospitals, prisons, police departments and morgues. Their expert opinion is also often required in court cases.
Forensic nursing is divided into various career paths: Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist, Forensic Nurse Investigator, Forensic Psychiatric Nurse, Nurse Coroner, Sexual Assault Nurse, Legal Nurse Consultant, Forensic Gerontology Specialist, and Correctional Nursing Specialist.
The Forensic Nursing Certification Board of the International Association of Forensic Nurses offers the following certifications: the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Adult/Adolescent (SANE-A) and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Pediatric (SANE-P).
Holistic Nursing involves the mind, body and spirit of a person because it recognizes their interconnectedness. The most famous nurse of all time, Florence Nightingale, believed in care that focused on wellness, unity, and the interrelationship of human beings and their environment, and is widely considered to be the “founder” of holistic nursing.
Holistic nursing was officially recognized by the American Nurses Association as a defined nursing specialty in 2006. Like other specialized programs for LPNs, holistic nursing has its own standards of practice, body of knowledge, and evidence-based research. Unlike any of the other specialties, holistic nursing calls on the holistic nurse to integrate reflection, self-care and the healing process in their own lives while they care for patients.
Holistic nurses integrate complementary or integrative modalities into their plan of care, incorporating methods of patient-care derived from various medical health practices. It is because of this all-encompassing model of care that the holistic nurse can be found in acute-care settings, have their own private practice or work in communities. Treatment methods usually extend beyond the use of generic medications to incorporate Chinese and Ayurvedic medical techniques such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, art therapy, therapeutic dance, massage therapy, meditation, mental healing, music, nutrition, physical therapy and prayer.
A baccalaureate degree is required to become a holistic nurse, and the available nursing programs will afford you the opportunity to work alongside doctors and qualified nurses, which will allow you to get hands-on experience. Holistic nurses gain certification via the American Holistic Nurses Association.
Nursing Informatics is one of the specialized programs for LPNs that is very different to all the others and will suit someone who is technically inclined and is analytical. Nurses who practice informatics are known as Clinical Informatics Specialists, Nurse Informaticist, Clinical Applications Specialist, Clinical Analyst, or various other designations. They work mainly in big hospitals and clinics, and some may work as consultants and travel to various healthcare centers to select, customize, research and maintain systems.
Nursing Informatics use a combination of computer science and nursing skills in order to communicate knowledge, data and information within the nursing profession. Informatics Nurses are involved in the design and development, implementation, education and evaluation of clinical information systems in different healthcare settings. Their duties include customizing systems to be purpose-suited, researching potential systems and evaluating their benefits, educating other healthcare professionals in the use of a system, and using healthcare systems to access patient records and support critical medical decisions.
You do not need an IT qualification to do nurse informatics, but some practical informatics experience will be beneficial prior to enrolling in an informatics course which is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse
Psychiatric nursing or mental health nursing is the nursing specialty that cares for individuals all ages who are suffering from mental illness or mental distress, such as bipolar disorder, depression or dementia, psychosis or schizophrenia. The emphasis of mental health nursing is on the development of a therapeutic relationship between the patient and the nurse.
A psychiatric mental health nurse needs to be understanding and empathetic in order to forge a positive relationship with the patient or client, and at the same time reinforce a positive psychological balance for the patient. This is a specialty which takes great patience and understanding, as mentally ill patients can be combative and very difficult to understand, but it is exactly that understanding and imbuing a feeling of significance and importance in the patient that improves their chances of leading as normal a life as possible.
It is important that a psychiatric nurse see patients as individuals with lives beyond their mental illness, as this can help to make them feel valued and respected. It is important that psychiatric/mental health nurses see the potential in bending the rules of standard assessment and interventions. Treatment may include something as small as taking a walk with the patient, or reading the newspaper together, taking them shopping and offering some physical support such as a hug or a hand on the shoulder. Physical touch is very important as it can comfort and console a patient and also make them feel accepted, especially if they have been ostracized because of their condition.
Many young and adventurous practical nurses take various specialized programs for LPNs, and the travel nurse program is right up their ally. A travel nurse travels locally and/or nationally to fill temporary positions in medical facilities where there are nursing shortages. This can be at a doctor’s office, nursing home, hospital, or a private residence.
Because these are temporary assignments they are usually done under contract and can last for anything from three months to a year. Travel expenses are generally paid for by the employer, who also often provides housing or a housing subsidy. Many travel nurses use nursing recruiters to get them contracts as the recruiter will generally assist them to get a temporary license to work in the state in which the assignment is.
Some of the other specialized programs for LPNs include wound, ostomy and continence nursing, school nurse practitioner, public health nurse, practical nurse, perioperative nursing, perianesthesia nursing and pediatric nurse practitioner to name but a few.