For Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), there are more career choices than you might first imagine! One can follow the traditional route as an LPN, or choose an alternative LPN career.
What is a “traditional” LPN career? Many LPNs today work in a nursing home or a long-term care facility, which can be extremely fulfilling. It can be a great honor to build relationships with the residents and ensure that their elder years are comfortable and happy.
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the American life expectancy to be 78.7 years. While spending our seventies, eighties, and nineties at home is the dream, the reality is slightly less domestic. Did you know that more than 800,000 Americans currently reside in assisted living facilities? According to the National Center for Assisted Living, the majority of residents are 85 and older. Most only need help with some daily activities, including bathing and walking. 40% of residents live with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. This population might be exactly who you want to support with your nursing skills. However, there are many alternative careers for LPNs that are equally worthy.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the highest levels of LPN employment – about 38% of LPNs – are in nursing and residential care facilities. This means that over 60% of the LPN workforce find an alternative career! As you can see, the common belief that LPNs must head straight for geriatric care is misconceived. Here are five other popular alternative careers for LPNs.
- Doctor’s Office Nurse
The second-highest levels of LPN employment are found in physician’s offices, with about 90,830 LPNs working in this environment nationwide. Many LPNs enjoy the population variety found in doctor’s offices, because they get to exercise their knowledge of health at all stages of the human life cycle. What duties do LPNs fulfill in this environment? It depends. If you opt to work directly with patients, you might:
- Intake patient medical history.
- Measure patient weight, blood pressure, temperature, and vital signs.
- Administer vaccines and medications.
- Perform heart and pulmonary tests such as EKGs and PFTs.
- Dress wounds or set casts.
LPNs may also perform administrative work in a physician’s office, such as:
- Set up patient appointments for the doctor.
- Answer e-mail and phone correspondence.
- Use paper and digital filing systems.
- Manage patient records.
Depending on the size and structure of the practice, it is often possible to mix clinical and administrative tasks as an LPN working in a physician’s office.
- Dialysis Technician
Dialysis is a treatment that helps to manage kidney disease, by assisting the kidney’s natural function for cleaning the blood. For long-term chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, dialysis treatments help extend the lifespan. Performing dialysis is a hands-on procedure requiring an LPN’s skillset, and it can be conducted either through a traveling nurse program to help patients at home, or in an outpatient clinic. Because CKD is increasing in prevalence and is a serious global health issue, becoming a dialysis technician is an in-demand, alternative LPN career.
In research published by the medical journal, The Lancet, 1.2 million people died globally in 2017 from CKD. Between 1990 and 2017, the mortality rate for CKD affecting all ages increased by 41.5%. In many countries, people suffering from this disease do not have access to treatment, and out of the 697.5 million people living with kidney disease in 2017, only about 2.5 million receive therapeutical treatment. In the United States, the CDC CKD Surveillance System reports that dialysis facilities are growing to meet this demand, and at the end of 2016, there were 6,871 facilities that treated 493,550 patients. Dialysis is an extremely worthy cause to devote your nursing knowledge to.
- Public School Nurse
It’s awful when you’re not feeling well at school. Do you remember the wash of relief when the nice school nurse would let you rest and call your parents? Public school nurses are true saviors in kids’ eyes, from kindergarten through those awkward teenage years. If you have a passion for pediatrics and adolescent health, an alternative LPN career choice would be to become a public school nurse. Besides handing out Tylenol, band-aids, and tampons, school nurses are vital to student health. School nurses:
- Educate students about healthy habits like hygiene and nutrition.
- Screen students for health problems.
- Keep track of student health history, such as vaccination records, and collaborate with pediatricians.
- Develop health plans for students with unique needs, such as chronic illness.
- Work alongside special educators and physical therapists to address behavioral problems and developmental challenges.
- Comply with local and national policies and laws regarding children’s health care.
The hard truth is that public school is the only place where some children receive regular medical attention. In a 2018 report, the U.S. Census found that 5.5% of children under the age of 19 were uninsured. If parents do not possess a private healthcare plan which covers their dependents, children may qualify for public health programs, such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Yet, bafflingly, 4.3 million children somehow slipped through the cracks in 2018. Without access to a family doctor outside of school, public school nurses play an even more important role in many children’s lives.
Our advice for aspiring LPNs is to pay attention to the populations you love working with, and the environments that make you happy. Finding the right LPN career path is about making choices that align with the things you enjoy most about your job. Choose a practical nursing program that helps you ace your licensing exam and begin your career journey in as few as 16 months! Call Stone Academy today at 800-585-1315, or request information online to get started.