Licensed Practical Nurse

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Sources of Additional Information 

Licensed Practical Nurses (or LPN's) care for ill, injured, convalescent, and handicapped persons in hospitals, clinics, private homes, doctors' offices and other settings. They work under the direction of a registered nurse, licensed physician, or dentist. 


Licensed Practical Nurses may:  

Assist in the development and modification of patient plans of care 

Take and record temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration rate, height, and weight 

Dress wounds, draw blood samples, and give tube feedings 

Give enemas, douches, irrigations and catheterizations  

Apply compresses, ice bags, or hot water bottles  

Observe patients and chart and report reactions to registered nurse or physician in charge  

Sterilize equipment and supplies, using germicides, sterilizers, or autoclaves (a pressurized, steam-heated vessel)  

Give prescribed medication or start intravenous fluids when authorized by a licensed physician, dentist or registered nurse 

Assist patients in activities of daily living, such as eating, exercising, bathing, oral hygiene, and making beds  

Assist with teaching patients good health habits  

Perform simple diagnostic tests  

Turn patients in bed, position, and help them walk  

Record the intake and output of food and fluids  

Care for mothers in labor and after childbirth  

Feed infants and newborn babies  

Provide emotional support for patients and families  

Provide post-mortem care for patients who have died  

Provide pre-operative and post-operative care  

Care for patients in isolation, in casts, or in traction  

Observe patient monitoring equipment  

Supervise care delivered by nurse aides as delegated by a registered nurse 

Click here to watch Licensed Practical Nurses at work!   

The machines, equipment, and work aids used may include:  

* Tracheotomy tubes 

* Suction machines 

* Catheters 

* Blood pressure devices 

* Stretchers and wheelchairs 

* Hypodermic needles and syringes 

* Surgical dressings 

* Oxygen equipment 

* Nasogastric or gastrostomy tubes 

* Thermometers 

* Scales 

* Lifting devices 

* Nebulizers and/or accessories 

* Pulmonary function evaluation equipment 


079.374-014 LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSES (or LPN's) care for ill, injured, convalescent, and handicapped persons in hospitals, clinics, private homes, doctors' offices, nursing homes, medical care facilities, and similar institutions. They work under the direction of a registered nurse, licensed physician, or dentist.  

In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration scripts:  


Licensed Practical Nurses work under the direction of physicians, dentists, or registered nurses. Some LPN's might supervise nursing assistants in patient care functions. They generally work in well equipped, health care facilities that are well lighted and well ventilated. However, those who care for patients in private homes and other locations may work under a variety of environmental conditions. Some of their work can be strenuous such as lifting patients and turning them in bed. They are in close contact with patients who are experiencing illness, pain, discomfort, and death as well as healing and recovery. LPN's may also face hazards from exposure to caustic chemicals, radiation, and infectious diseases. These hazards are greatly reduced by strict adherence to safety procedures.  

Most LPN's are employed 40 hours per week. Since most patients in either nursing homes or hospitals require daily round-the-clock attention, LPN's may work any of three shifts, weekends, and holidays on a rotation basis. LPN's in patients' homes may work a longer day or more days a week. Others may work less than 40-hours per week or on a part-time basis. Flexible hours, for example, 10- or 12-hour shifts, are often available. Private duty Nurses choose their own jobs and hours.  

Licensed Practical Nurses must usually furnish their own uniforms, shoes, watch with a second hand, and other miscellaneous equipment.  

Licensed Practical Nurses, as well as students enrolled in practical nursing programs, may join professional associations such as The National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses , Inc., or The National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service, Inc . They may also join unions  which represent the employees where they work. Association or union members must pay periodic membership fees.  

You Should Prefer: 

  • Activities which involve direct personal contact with people
  • Activities which involve helping and working with people
  • Activities which require scientific and technical knowledge  

You Should Be Able To: 

  • Make decisions based on written policies and procedures
  • Work within precise limits or standards of accuracy
  • Follow instructions
  • Communicate well/to talk with patients/families/staff members
  • Maintain charts and other records
  • Perform a variety of duties which may change often
  • Work cooperatively with others
  • Work well under pressure in critical/unexpected situations
  • Maintain confidentiality of information about patients  

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve:  

What is the flow rate of IV infusions if:   

Amount and type of solution: 

1000ml 5% dextrose/water 

Time limit: 

to be infused in 8 hours 

Drop factor: 


Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend:  

If there is insufficient pressure of oxygen in the blood to load the hemoglobin molecules with oxygen, the content of oxygen falls.  

Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce:  

Chart and record a patient's blood pressure.  

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate:  

Must demonstrate analytical skills and be able to understand and carry out requests from physicians.  

Licensed Practical Nurses must be licensed by the Michigan Department of Community Health . 

Click here  for "Michigan Licensed Occupations," see Nurse, Practical   for specific licensing information. 

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NOTE: A High School Diploma with specific Vocational Education Classes or a Certificate (program of up to one year of study beyond high school) or an Associate Degree (two years of study beyond high school) or an Apprenticeship (usually three to four years of training beyond high school) may qualify a person for this occupation.  

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in the Career Exploration script:  





Approved vocational education programs in Nursing Occupations Cluster prepare students to give direct nursing care under the supervision of a nurse or physician. Instruction includes a combination of classroom and supervised clinical experiences.  

The following courses may be required for completion of this program:  






High school students should consult their guidance office for more information about the specific requirements of this program at their school or area vocational education center. 

Students should obtain the local Education & Training Opportunities for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center. 



Programs in Practical Nursing provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed for employment giving limited nursing care to patients in homes, doctors' offices, hospitals, and institutions.  

Courses vary from school to school but may include: 


Nursing Fundamentals 


Anatomy & Physiology 


Gerontology (Care of the Elderly) 

Emergency Care 

Human Growth & Development 

Clinical Practice 

Patient Care Principals 

Pediatric Nursing 

Medical-Surgical Nursing 

Obstetrical Nursing 

Patient Care Principles 

Mental Health 

General Chemistry 

Clinical Practice 

Search for a College and/or Instructional Program 


Although individuals might enter this occupation through apprenticeship training, currently no apprenticeship programs for this occupation are available in Michigan. For more information, contact the Bureau or Apprenticeship and Training found in the Sources of More Information below.  


Please check the Military web site at . 


The military provides medical care to all men and women in the services. Medical care technicians work with teams of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to provide treatment to patients. They help give patients the care and treatment required to help them recover from illness or injury. They also prepare rooms, equipment, and supplies in hospitals and medical clinics.  

What They Do   

Medical care technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties: 

  • Provide bedside care in hospitals including taking the body temperature, pulse, and respiration rate of patients
  • Feed, bathe, and dress patients
  • Prepare patients, operating rooms, equipment, and supplies for surgery
  • Make casts, traction devices, and splints according to physicians' instructions
  • Give medication to patients under the direction of physicians and nurses  

Physical Demands   

Some specialties in this area require sufficient strength to lift and move patients, and some require a normal skin condition to guard against infection.  

Helpful Attributes   

Helpful school subjects include general science, biology, and psychology. Helpful attributes include: 

  • Interest in helping others
  • Ability to work under stressful or emergency conditions
  • Ability to follow directions precisely  

Work Environment   

Medical care technicians work in hospitals and clinics on land or aboard ships. In combat situations, they may work in mobile field hospitals.  

Training Provided   

Job training consists of 7 to 52 weeks of classroom instruction, in patient care. Training length varies depending on specialty. Course content typically includes: 

  • Patient care techniques
  • Emergency medical techniques
  • Methods of sterilizing surgical equipment
  • Plaster casting techniques  

Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. 

Civilian Counterparts   

Civilian medical care technicians work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, or doctors' offices. Their work is similar to duties performed in the military. Those with less than a year of formal training may be called nurses aides, orderlies, or psychiatric aides. Those who have completed practical nurse training are called practical nurses or licensed practical nurses. 


 The military provides medical care to all men and women in the services.  Medical care technicians work with teams of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to provide treatment to patients.  They help give patients the care and treatment required to help them recover from illness or injury.  They also prepare rooms, equipment and supplies in hospitals and medical clinics. E-Learning Courses and Programs 

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Secondary vocational education programs in nursing occupations cluster and postsecondary practical nursing programs may offer opportunities for experience. Related military training is also available. Other opportunities are: helping ill persons at home, serving as a volunteer or paid worker with health organizations, and working as a nurse's aide. Some high schools have Future Nurses clubs.  

School-to-Work opportunities include:  

informal apprenticeships  


job shadowing experiences  

touring a local Licensed Practical Nurse employer 


volunteer work with a Licensed Practical Nurse employer  

community service work with an agency  

After obtaining a license, Licensed Practical Nurses can find employment by contacting employers directly. Assistance is available through school placement offices and the local Michigan Works!offices. Jobs may also be found in newspaper want ads or nursing journals. LPN's who would like private duty work may register their availability with hospitals and doctors' offices. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as: 


Onward Healthcare 

Medical-AdMart - Doctors & Nurses 

Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

Michigan Talent Bank 

Indeed | one search. all jobs. 



You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services. 

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Earnings for LPN's vary with employer, shift worked, geographic location, and training and experience. Licensed Practical Nurses employed in large hospitals in well populated areas or LPN's certified to give medications tend to receive higher than average wages.  

Nationally, the annual salaries (early 2009) of LPN's employed by hospitals and related institutions ranged between $34,800 and $42,000, with an average of $37,600.  

In Michigan hospitals, annual salaries for Licensed Practical Nurses qualified to pass medications to patients were (late 2008):  




Middle Range 



$35,464 - $41,891 

West Central 


 $35,692 - $40,560 



 $39,920 - $44,241 

South West 


 $37,252 - $41,080 

Licensed Practical Nurses employed by the State of Michigan earned between $36,816 and   $50,731 per year in mid 2009. LPN supervisors earned from $38,792 to $56,992. Some Nurses may also receive extra pay for evening, night, and weekend work.  

Depending on the employer, most LPN's have paid vacations and holidays; life, accident, disability, and hospitalization insurance; retirement plans; and sick pay. LPN's employed in hospitals may also receive optical and dental insurance. Some LPN's may receive tuition reimbursement for professional advancement.  

Opportunities are limited without additional training. Some Licensed Practical Nurses work while training to become a registered nurse. Promotions for LPN's usually consist of salary increases for longevity and good job performance. Some individuals also obtain higher pay by completing courses which prepare them for work with patients requiring specialized care such as rehabilitation.  

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Nationally, in 2006, about 748,600 Licensed Practical Nurses were employed. Their employment is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016. The industry distribution for Licensed Practical Nurses looked like this:  


NAICS Industry Title 

% Employed 


Nursing and residential care facilities 



Hospitals, public and private 



Ambulatory health care services 



Administrative and support services 



State and local government 



Educational services, public and private 



Federal government 





To find employers, click Employer/Business Locator. 

The effort to restrain the increase in health care costs and the widespread use of advanced medical equipment and procedures may adversely affect employment. The best opportunities will be in nursing homes, home health agencies, and in private duty nursing. About 26% of all LPN's work part. 

In early 2009, there were approximately 26,200 Licensed Practical Nurses employed in Michigan. Employment of Licensed Practical Nurses is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2014. An average of 490 annual openings is expected, with 120 due to growth and 370 due to replacement of those who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Additional openings will occur as LPN's transfer to other jobs or occupations. 

The employment outlook is expected to improve in the long run in response to the needs of a growing and aging population; broadened public and private health insurance plans; and expanded programs for the elderly, particularly in geriatric and acute-care health facilities. However, as hospitals continue to reduce the number of beds and take other steps to keep costs from increasing, employment opportunities for Licensed Practical Nurses will be more favorable in nursing homes and home health-care agencies. 

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The American Assembly of Men 

Health Care Association 

In Nursing 

Of Michigan 

P.O. Box 130220 

P.O. Box 80050 

Birmingham, AL  35213 or 

Lansing, MI  48908 or 

601 37th Street South 

7413 Westshire Drive 

Birmingham, AL  35222 

Lansing, MI    48917 

 (205) 956-0146 

 (517) 627-1561 



National Association for 

National League for Nursing 

Practical Nurse Education and Service 

Div. of Educ. & Accreditation 

1940 Duke Street, Ste 200                 

61 Broadway, 33rd 

Alexandria, VA   22314 

New York, NY   10006 

 (703) 933-1003 

 (212) 363-5555 or 1-800-669-1656 



National Federation of 

Michigan Department of Community Health 

Licensed Practical Nurses 

Bureau of Health Professions 

605 Poole Drive 

Board of Nursing 

Garner, NC   27529 

201 Townsend Street                           

 (919) 779-0046 

Lansing, MI   48913 


 (517) 373-3740 



Michigan Licensed Practical 

U.S. Veterans Administration 

Nurses Association 

Office of Nursing Services 

5900 Executive Drive 

810 Vermont Avenue, NW (108) 

Lansing, MI   48911 

Washington, DC   20420 

(517) 882-6657 

(202) 273-9237 



U.S. Department of Labor 

Michigan Health Occupations 

Bureau of Apprenticeship 

Students of America 

And Training 

2410 Woodlake Drive 

315 W. Allegan - Room 209 

Okemos, MI   48864 

Lansing, MI   48933 

(517) 347-8088 

(517) 377-1746 




Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

Local Military Recruiters 

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