Do You Have What It Takes To Be a Vocational Nurse?

Do you have the gift of compassion? Can you work long hours on your feet? Do you want to get into nursing without having to complete a four-year degree? If so, you may want to consider a career as a vocational nurse.

Vocational Nurse

Vocational nurses, also known as licensed practical nurses in most states, provide hands-on patient care to the sick and elderly. They often work in assisted living facilities, schools, and hospitals. Some make house calls and in order to offer vital service to the homebound or bedbound.

Vocational nurses take blood pressure and they measure the height and weight, temperature, respiration, and heart rate of their patients. They collect blood samples, perform enemas, and give massages. They administer medications including intravenous meds and other fluids like saline. They keep track of whether a patient is eating enough and they track a patient’s reaction to drugs. If a patient has a life-threatening allergy to a particular medication, his vocational nurse may be the one to discover the allergy and possibly save his life. Vocational nurses communicate with doctors and other caregivers. These nurses provide valuable information about the details of a patient’s illness and recovery that can be useful in diagnosis and treatment. Some LVNs assist in deliveries of newborn babies, and they may also provide child care.

Vocational nurses also do things like changing bandages, feeding patients, helping them take a shower or bath, and providing bed pans. It is imperative that vocational nurses show no fear or distaste for patients whose illnesses may make them unattractive. Vocational nurses cannot afford to be afraid of bad smells or bodily fluids. Because sick people are often in pain or depressed, the vocational nurse must be mentally prepared to deal with a range of negative behaviors–complaining, bickering, being overly needy, etc. These nurses must be consistently gentle, upbeat, and non-judgmental, understanding that a patient is often acting out of his frustration with being sick.

Vocational nurses do a lot of bending and lifting, so they must have good stamina and decent muscle tone. They often have to reposition patients–to keep them from getting bed sores. Vocational nurses may also have to help patients in and out of bathtubs, up and down stairs, and in and out of bed, among other things. Because the sick are extremely susceptible to infection, vocational nurses need to be attentive to details, especially hygiene.

What kind of education is needed to become a vocational nurse? Beyond high school, you will need to enroll in a one-year nursing program. An online nursing degree may be an option. Make sure that you enroll in a program that offers classes in physiology, anatomy, psychology, medical terminology, dosage calculations, and related sciences. In the course of your program, you will be required to get supervised clinical experience. Usually, this means you will be assigned to a nursing home or hospital where you will report to a registered nurse. To become a vocational nurse, you must also take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination. Once you have fulfilled these requirements, you will either become a “Licensed Vocational Nurse”–if you live in Texas or California–or a “Licensed Practical Nurse”–if you live in another state.

Vocational nurses do not make the same money as registered nurses who complete a four-year degree. In 2012, the average vocational nurse made $41,540. The most highly paid LPNs and LVNs make $58,000 a year or so, but, starting out, you should expect to make an entry-level salary of more like $31,300 or even less. Offsetting that salary, though, is the fact that nurses have excellent job security and are in demand all over. With nursing qualifications, you can go almost anywhere in the world you care to go and find a job. The field of vocational nursing is expected to grow twenty-five percent through 2022. Vocational nurses who love their jobs should strongly consider the possibility of returning to school and completing the requirements to become a registered nurse. Online nursing programs offer the option of earning a degree in the evenings and weekends while keeping your full-time job.

Exploring Career Options

    Discover which jobs match your skills, interests, and experience.

    Using the latest labor market data explore which careers are growing in popularity.

    Find out what's required to get your dream job.

    Get the most job satisfaction at the best rates of pay.

    Understand what you have to do to be successful in your chosen career.