A hospice licensed practical nurse, or LPN, provides comfort and optimizes the quality of life of terminally ill patients. The job requires completion of a year-long training program and certification from your state of employment. Although the position is stressful, hospice LPNs take pride in knowing they are providing essential care to the terminally ill.
A hospice licensed practical nurse, or LPN, provides basic bedside care to terminally ill patients. Hospice LPNs take and keep track of patients' vital signs such as weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration. They also prepare and give patients injections and enemas, monitor catheters and dress wounds. They may be required to assist with basic care, such as bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, standing, walking and eating.
LPNs must complete a state-approved, year-long practical nursing training program. Most training programs are available through technical schools, vocational schools, community colleges, universities and some hospitals. In order to enter the training program, a high school degree or equivalent is required. After successful completion of the practical nursing training program, a future LPN must take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN, to obtain a license as an LPN. The computer-based exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. LPN license eligibility may vary by state; for details, contact your state's board of nursing.
Hospice LPNs work in private homes, residential care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals and other hospice care environments.
Hospice LPNs typically work a 40-hour week. Because terminally ill patients require round-the-clock care, hospice LPNs may have to work nights, weekends and holidays. Hospice LPNs work in a hospital or hospital-like setting. They often stand for long periods and must be physically able to help patients move in bed, stand or walk.. Due to this, LPNs are subject to back injuries when moving patients. Hospice LPNs also deal with the stress of heavy workloads; patients who may be confused, agitated or uncooperative; and death.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage in 2008 of hospice LPNs was $40,580. In 2008, the middle 50 percent of LPNs in all fields earned between $33,360 and $46,710. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $53,580.
Advancement and Other Opportunities
Hospice LPNs can advance their careers and become charge nurses who are responsible for overseeing the work of the other LPNs and nursing aides. There is no additional education necessary for this; an employer typically looks for experience and past work performance.
Hospice LPNs can change their field of medicine for advancement and become certified in specialties like IV therapy, gerontology, long-term care, and pharmacology. In order to become credentialed, classes or on-the-job training is required to complete the specific certification.
Hospice LPNs also choose to advance their career and become registered nurses through LPN-to-RN training programs. A hospice LPN can decide to remain working within hospice care and become a hospice RN, or she can change to a new field of medicine upon completion of becoming a registered nurse.
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