Becoming an LPN may be one of the best decisions you have ever made. This is because the healthcare industry is always growing and there is always a demand for professionals in the area.
While many other industries suffer along with the economy, the healthcare industry remains strong. In order to become an LPN you will have to pass two sections of your training. The first section is theory based and the second section is practical. In this article we will look at some of the more important facts surrounding LPN clinicals.
What You Will Do in LPN Clinicals
In order to become an LPN you will have to undergo LPN clinicals. These are basically a set number of hours that you will have to complete doing actual practical training in a healthcare setting. There are four basic areas you will cover in LPN clinicals.
Gain Professional Experience
The first obvious advantage of doing LPN clinicals and one of the main reasons why these clinicals are required is that they provide you with some of the valuable professional experience that you will need going forward in your LPN career. In your LPN clinicals you will be given the opportunity to:
- Communicate with professionals in a professional context thereby allowing you to get used to real-life healthcare situations.
- Practice using the medical terminology that you learned during the theoretical part of your training so that you will have a clearer understanding in your own mind of what the terms mean and when you should use them.
- Get used to following the instructions of doctors and Registered Nurses.
- Get used the protocols and procedures that are usually followed in a healthcare setting.
- Get used to the etiquette that you will be required to obey in a professional setting in the healthcare industry.
These are mostly things that you simply cannot learn from reading books and studying theory. Some things can only be learned through LPN clinicals.
Learn the Basic Administration
As an LPN you will be responsible for quite a lot of basic administration. This may not seem particularly glamorous (because it isn’t) but it is a very important part of your day-to-day tasks. The best way to learn administrative procedures is by actually performing those procedures. The things that you will learn in this area will most likely include:
- Filling out paperwork
- Writing down medical histories
- Maintaining medical records
- Tracking inventory and supplies
- Answering phone calls
- Scheduling appointments
These may also be among the things that you will be required to do when you do your clinical test. Please note that these administrative tasks will differ from facility to facility depending on what your direct role as the LPN in that facility is, so you may learn only some of the above and you may learn additional administrative tasks that are not listed above. Whatever tasks come your way just be sure to know them well for your LPN clinicals.
Focus on Patient Care
This is possibly the most important aspect of LPN clinicals. After all your main function as an LPN will be to care for patients so it is important that you learn how to do so in a practical setting and that you are able to demonstrate your skills in that area in an LPN test. There are a number of advantages to learning patient care in a practical setting:
- Firstly you will be able to gain the knowledge, experience and skills you need to have a successful career in the field of nursing.
- Secondly you will be able to see exactly how things are done by observing LPN nurses who are already employed to work as LPNs. This is especially important because you will be able to see exactly what needs to be done.
There are a lot of things that an LPN needs to do that cannot be learned from reading a textbook on the matter, so these kinds of clinicals are of the utmost importance. Give it your all and prepare yourself well.
Learn the Specialized Duties You Will Need
LPN students who want to gain specialized experience in a particular field may be able to do so in their LPN clinicals. For example you may want to work in a nursing home or a doctor’s office rather than in a hospital. Each of these different facilities will come with different challenges and demands and if you are clear right from the beginning of your training about where exactly you want to end up then you may be able to focus on reaching your goals by doing specialized LPN clinicals. If you choose a doctor’s office you will probably need to focus a little more on administrative duties than on your bedside manner as you will most frequently be dealing with patients in an administrative setting. If you work in a hospital or nursing home, on the other hand, your patient care skills will have to be top-notch as you will be responsible for providing long-term care to patients in a static setting. If you want to work in home health care you may need to know things like how to prepare healthy meals for your patients.
LPN Clinicals: Passing the Clinical Test
In many cases you will also have to sit LPN clinicals in the form of a test. This is because you need to be examined on your ability to perform all of the tasks that are required of a Licensed Practical Nurse. In many cases you will be aware of who your patient is the day before you sit your LPN clinicals. This is a great opportunity for you to prepare really well for your upcoming test and you should not waste this valuable time that you are given. Here are some tips on how to prepare for LPN clinicals.
Know Your Patient’s Diagnosis (if possible)
In a lot of cases LPNs are informed of patients’ diagnoses before their LPN clinicals begin. If you are placed in this very fortunate position then you will need to make the most of it. As an LPN your intervention abilities are limited, but there are still things that you will need to know how to do based on your patient’s diagnosis. For example if the patient is a diabetic and one of your clinical tasks is to prepare food for that patient you will need to be extra careful about food you prepare. You cannot give your diabetic patient something that is dangerous for diabetics to eat. Consequently you will need to research your patient’s diagnosis before your clinical test begins so that you are aware of everything that you should and should not do at your level of nursing for a patient with that diagnosis. If you are not given patient details before this clinical, review some of the more basic diagnoses that you may have to deal with in LPN clinicals.
Research Your Patient
If possible, research the following aspects of your patient’s file before you begin your clinical test:
- History of the patient’s illnesses and hospital visits
- Physical condition of the patient
- Medications that the patient is on
- Procedures that the patient has undergone
- Lab values
Knowledge of the above will make all of your LPN clinicals far easier to manage now and in the future. All of these aspects will affect what sort of care and attention you give to your patient and will therefore be extremely valuable in helping you to pass your LPN clinical. If, however, you are not able to gain access to this information before the clinical begins you will have to read the patient’s file in the clinical itself. This is the right thing to do, so don’t be afraid to do it! Your examiner will be impressed with your intention to make the best choices possible regarding your patient. It is essential that you are fully aware of what the best course of action is in your particular patient’s specific situation.
Prepare Yourself to Intervene
This is a point that may be more relevant for RN clinicals than for LPN clinicals as LPNs have a limited ability to intervene, but there are still certain things that you will be able to do based on the information that you carefully gathered about the patient.
If the patient is showing worrying signs of decline then one of the things that you may be able to do to show your ability to intervene is to call an RN or a doctor. One of the things that LPNs have to do is to check the patient’s vital signs. Make sure that you know what all of the vital signs are and that you check them during your clinical tests even if the patient seems fine. If there is a problem in this regard then it is your responsibility in the clinical as well as in a real life situation to alert someone who can do something about it.
Ensure that you know what you can and can’t do according to the LPN scope of practice.
Take Notes on Things You Don’t Know
When you are preparing for LPN clinicals you need to write down everything that you didn’t know before or that you didn’t fully understand the first time. This will help you adequately prepare for the clinical. For example, if you are informed of your patient’s identity and diagnosis before the actual clinical begins but you don’t understand the diagnosis or an aspect of the patient’s history, write down your query and look it up as soon as possible. You can also ask an RN or a more experienced LPN to explain it to you. In a real-life nursing situation will not have to ever remember everything off by heart. You will be expected to ask for help or look things up when you come across a concept or illness that you are unfamiliar with, so you are therefore also allowed to look this up before (and in some very rare cases, during) the actual LPN clinical. Not looking information like this up could place your patient’s life in danger. Don’t try to impress by pretending that you know everything. This brings us to our last point for this article.
Don’t Assume that You Know Everything
If you are doing LPN clinicals then you are an LPN student which means that you do not know everything. In fact, to be honest, you know very little as a lot of the things that LPNs do are intuitive and are only learned through years of experience. If you don’t understand something you should ask questions about it. You can’t possibly be expected to know absolutely everything about absolutely every illness at your skill level. Your examiner will understand that and will appreciate that you ask questions rather than trying to do something that you actually don’t know how to do. In an actual real-life situation you simply cannot take this chance, so you should therefore avoid doing things like this in LPN clinicals as well. Accept that you will be nervous and that this may make you forget things and remember that hundreds of LPN nurses before you have gone through this self-same process successfully, which means that you will probably be able to manage it as well.
Now that you have gone through all of the pointers about the LPN clinicals that you are likely to encounter during your training you should be well equipped to face the challenge and come out on top with a smile on your face. Don’t worry, you will do fine, and after a very short time as an LPN you will suddenly realize that all of those things that you worried about so much during your training have become second nature to you. Like with everything in life practice makes perfect which is why we need to have LPN clinicals.