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Studies & Degrees in Practical Nursing

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Practical Nursing is the practice of nursing under the supervision or direction of a registered nurse, licensed physician, or dentist. Under such supervision, a licensed practical nurse can do things like start IVs, administer medications, take samples, perform basic lab analysis, dress wounds, take vital signs, and perform basic diagnostic tasks. Besides, practical nurses can chart patient progress, provide updates on patient status to supervising nurses and doctors, and assist patients with questions and concerns. Licensed practical nurses also monitor patients under their care, and they may supervise orderlies, nursing assistants, and other members of the nursing staff, depending on where they work. With experience, a licensed practical nurse may become very skilled at a variety of nursing tasks.

Personal Qualities

Practical nurses work very closely with patients, for which reason they need to have a sincere urge to help people. Other skills and qualities include:

  • Be very stable mentally and emotionally
  • Work very well as a part of a team
  • Be extremely patient and caring
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Be very diligent and precise
  • Be very good at following instruction
  • Be very good at reporting and analyzing various situations

Study Options

To become a practical nurse, you will usually have to complete a practical nursing education program. Such programs are available at community colleges as well as some vocational schools. Actually, even some hospitals may provide nurse education programs in which you can enroll to become a licensed practical nurse. The length of each of these programs may vary from institution to institution, but typically the course of study will involve both classroom education and clinical training. You are likely to finish your practical nursing education in a year or two. Depending on where you choose to enroll, you may complete a practical nursing education that then leads to a certificate in nursing, or a program that lasts longer (about two years), and then ends with an associate’s degree in nursing.

Finally, what you have to consider is that after you have completed a nurse education program, you will be likely to have to pass a nurse licensing exam before you can apply for a job. You may have to pay a fee and agree to a criminal background check, too.

Career Options

Employment prospects in this field are generally good, and you can work in many different kinds of environment. Some licensed practical nurses work in hospitals, providing patient care, assistance with intake, and similar services. Others may work in residential treatment facilities, nursing homes, and similar. Finally, such a certification gives you the possibility to work as an in-home care provider.