Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) care for patients in hospitals, doctors' offices and nursing homes under the direct supervision of doctors and registered nurses. In hospitals, LVNs observe, measure and record patient temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration to monitor their condition. They give medications, draw blood, check on intravenous equipment and give injections. They also assemble and use equipment such as catheters, tracheotomy tubes and oxygen supplies. After surgery, they change dressings on wounds. Providing personal care such as bathing, dressing and assisting patients in walking can also be part of their job. Experienced LVNs direct the work of nurse assistants and other LVNs.
In clinics and doctors' offices LVNs may prepare patients for examinations, apply dressings, instruct patients on home health care and take vital signs. Since patients at nursing homes and hospitals require 24-hour care, licensed vocational nurses often work nights, weekends and holidays. Some LVNs also work in patient's homes.
Licensed vocational nurses should be caring, sympathetic and able to follow directions. A high school diploma or GED is required including English (or completion of ESL) and Math, Nutrition & Diet Therapy, Anatomy and Physiology, followed by a one-year to three semester State approved training program at a community college or vocational school. Programs include coursework and supervised patient care. Graduates must pass a State approved examination to become licensed, before they can work as a LVN.
Links to Additional Career Information
California Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians (916) 263-7800 www.bvnpt.ca.gov
National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (919) 779-0046 or (800) 948-2511 www.nflpn.org
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