Practical Nursing in District of Columbia
Washington DC’s Licensed Practical Nurses carry out a range of nursing duties, most often for patients with chronic or sub-acute needs. They are true nurses, occupying a place on the career ladder above nursing assistant or patient care technician. However, their scope of practice is below that of registered nurse, or RN.
LPN training can be completed in about a year (LPN programs in DC); licensing is dependent on successful performance on a licensing examination. LPNs may later complete LPN to RN transition programs.
What an LPN can do will depend on many contextual elements, including the stability of the patient’s condition and the availability of resources. There are some tasks an LPN might do in a skilled nursing setting but not in a home health setting.
The training of the individual LPN (both initial and continuing education) is also important. IVs for example, require training beyond the basic.
The setting will play a role in determining whether an LPN is relatively low or relatively high on the chain of authority. LPN positions can entail delegating and assigning tasks to unlicensed personnel and to other LPNs. Such positions carry a lot of responsibility.
LPNs in Long-Term Care
Long-term care, broadly defined, employs a large proportion of LPNs. It is growth in this sphere that has fueled LPN occupational growth nationwide, even as hospitals have decreased their utilization of practical nurses.
In a majority of cases, people enter skilled nursing facilities with the eventual goal of returning home. They may receive therapy and sub-acute care following a stroke, cardiac event, accident, or major surgery, or after a flare-up of a chronic condition. LPNs provide care that prevents complication during recovery. They also help maintain the health status of those who will be in nursing homes for the long-term. DC-based Stoddard Baptist Global Care describes LPNs as the primary caregivers at their long-term care facility and notes that resident care is an active not a passive process.
Medication administration is among the common duties LPNs perform in long-term care settings. Another is acting as charge nurse and supervising work performed by nursing assistants. LPNs make rounds which include careful observation of resident status and condition.
Assisted living residences provide services for adults who do not need quite a nursing home level of care. DC assisted living facilities may admit residents who require only intermittent skilled nursing care. They may offer specialized services, such as care for individuals with Alzheimer ’s disease or Parkinson’s.
Facilities may be part of continuing care retirement communities. LPNs may have responsibility for providing or overseeing care at more than one level.
LPNs may also be employed in home care. They may work one-on-one with clients who need skilled services such as G-Tube management and trach care.
Community service organizations are another possibility. One recent DC posting was for an LPN who could work with people who had developmental disabilities. Duties would include interpreting special diets and health needs and providing education.
LPNs in Clinic and Office Settings
LPNs are also employed in clinic or medical office settings and sometimes in hospitals
Even premier healthcare institutions hire LPNs, but in more limited numbers (as well as more limited capacities). DC’s Children’s National notes in its FAQ that LPNs are utilized in outpatient clinics (https://childrensnational.org/careers-and-training/nursing/nursing-faqs). January 2018 finds the organization advertising for experienced LPNs to fill a few positions.
Clinics/ practices associated with Georgetown University Hospital also utilize LPNs.
Clinics may be general or specialized. One small practice advertised in 2018 for newly graduated LPNs, along with individuals with higher and lower credentialing, to practice a specialized muscle rehabilitative therapy which could aid patients with incontinence.
Pediatrics is a relatively common specialty area. In addition to basic tasks like weight, vitals, and patient escort, LPNs at pediatric clinics may perform more specialized duties, such as those involving nebulizers or IVs. Giving shots is a common task. It helps to have a true affinity with children to carru out this task.
Some positions favor candidates with non-nursing skills relevant to a particular patient group. For example, one clinic recently sought bilingual LPNs to provide family planning services.
Some LPNs in practice settings also have front office and stocking duties.
LPN Role in School Health Services
LPNs have an important role in providing school health services in Washington DC. They work under RN supervision to provide screening, treat health conditions, and make referrals. A number of recent positions have been for floaters. Hiring is also handled by Children’s National. The organization seeks LPNs with prior experience.
Average LPN Salary in DC and Career Outlook
LPNs in the District of Columbia averaged $26.54 an hour in 2016; potentially, this is $55,200 for a year of full-time work.
DC has been predicted to experience 16.3% practical nursing occupational growth between 2014 and 2024.
The DC area turns out a lot of highly educated nurses. LPNs from within DC may apply for positions in Northern Virginia and Maryland.
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