Licensed vocational nurses, sometimes called LVNs, provide direct care to patients who cannot care for themselves due to physical or mental illness or injury. LVNs are supervised by registered nurses, physicians or other licensed health care professionals. The LVN salary range is quite broad, and varies from state to state.

LVN Duties:

Practical nurses are expected to perform a wide variety of duties, such as taking patients' temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, counting their respirations, and assessing their level of pain. LVNs also help sick or injured individuals to eat, bath, dress, and complete proper oral hygiene. A vocational nurse may also medicate patients, dress wounds, administer enemas or insert catheters. In addition, almost all LVNs are required to monitor their patients' daily food and water intake, as well as their bladder and bowel activity. Assisting patients to exercise or participate in recreational activities is also a task associated with vocational nursing.

In addition to standard duties, LVNs are often called upon to assist physicians or other health care providers with diagnostic tests or surgical procedures. Clerical duties are a part of an LVNs job description as well, such as creating a medical history for each patient and documenting details about his or her current condition. Such information is passed to the patient's physician, who will use it to create a suitable care plan for the individual.

LVN Salary Range:

The salary range for most LVNs practicing in the United States is approximately $33,000 and $46,000 per year. The annual salary of LVNs who are employed by health care agencies is generally higher than salaries earned by those who work for one specific employer. For example, nurses who work for an employment agency will earn about $45,000 per year, while LVNs who work for a dedicated employer earn approximately $35,000 and $40,000. Those employed by physicians generally earn the lowest salaries, which typically range between $33,000-$35,000 annually.

Training and Education:

LVNs are required to complete a state-approved training program, which can be taken at a technical or vocational school, or community college. A list of schools that meet the appropriate criteria can be obtained from the board of education in the state in which the individual wishes to practice. Most vocational nursing programs take 12-24 months to complete; however, education requirements can vary significantly from one state to another. After the appropriate training has been completed, the student nurse must achieve a passing grade on the National Council License Examination for vocational nurses before he or she can seek employment.

Salaries and Career Options:

Most LVNs work in generalized healthcare settings, but some vocational nurses choose to specialize in order to pursue higher earnings or begin a career path. For instance, vocational nurses who work in surgical hospitals typically earn over $6,000 more each year than nurses who work in general healthcare facilities. LVNs who are employed in nursing homes can pursue the position of charge nurse, and the additional responsibilities that come with such as position. In addition, an LVN salary in an urban area is usually higher than the salary offered to those who choose to work in rural parts of the country.

Those who choose to pursue a career in the field of nursing will find that they have many job options in a variety of different settings. Individuals who become vocational nurses can look forward to a rewarding long-term career in a respected profession.

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