Practical Nursing in Idaho

Idaho’s practical nurses work across settings. You’ll find them in the doctor’s office and in the hospital, in long-term care facilities, in community settings and private homes. LPNs are distinguished from registered nurses by the level of care they can provide and the supervision they require. They are considered to have a dependent role. Technical duties sometimes include giving injections and even inserting tubes. What they can do depends on multiple factors like patient condition and predictability of outcome. LPNs sometimes function as charge nurses; this is a common occurrence in long-term care settings. Idaho is different than many states is than it has a high proportion of LPNs working in hospital settings. Their range of duties will of course be different.

LPN Training in Idaho

There is some overlap in degree level between LPNs and RNs. RNs, though, will have had a longer and more difficult nursing curriculum. Ultimately, LPNs and RNs have different licensing examinations. LPNs have education at the level of vocational certificate or associate’s degree (LPN programs in Idaho). Nationwide, certificate-level education is most common. RNs may have associate’s degrees but often have higher degrees. The program must be approved to provide learning experiences at the appropriate level (though a person can seek LPN licensing after completing LPN-equivalent coursework in a registered nursing program).

Idaho state data does not indicate higher salary for LPNs based on degree alone. Completing an additional nursing program and achieving the higher license, on the other hand, does tend to increase salary a good deal.

Idaho Practical Nursing Overview

Idaho maintains detailed information about its nursing workforce. The Idaho Department of Labor, in cooperation with other state organizations, published a nursing overview in 2015 and an interim report in 2017. The earlier report included information about work setting and industry, role, and area of clinical practice.

Some data is from earlier years. The following were the most common work settings for full-time LPNs in 2012, in order, beginning with the most common:

  • Medical offices or clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Hospices or home health agencies

Employment setting was similar for part-time LPNs except that more part-time workers were employed in home health or hospice than in hospital settings.

Almost 70% of Idaho LPNs reported their role as general duty or staff nurse. The next most common was charge nurse or lead nurse. Small numbers reported case management, administrative or supervisory duties, or quality assurance or outcome management.

The largest subset of LPNs reported their area of practice as geriatric or gerontological – their focus was caring for the aged. The next most common was medical/ surgical; nationwide this is a common (fairly general) hospital specialty. The following were also common among Idaho LPNs: community or public health, pediatric or neonatal, psychiatric/ mental health, and rehabilitative/ restorative.

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Current Opportunities for LPNs

Early 2018 finds a number of Idaho organizations advertising for LPNs. Among these: the state human resources division seeking to build its candidate pool for a number of positions, including jobs in state hospitals, veterans homes, juvenile corrections facilities, and public health districts. Hires would be providing practical nursing care or assisting physicians or nurses. The following are among the many things they might do: change dressings, remove sutures, give intramuscular injections, insert nasal gastric tubes, monitor patients for adverse medication reactions, and provide patient and family education related to range of motion and proper diet.

One of the region’s major medical systems was also seeking multiple LPNs. The organization was preparing to begin a 90-day preceptorship program; there would be opportunities in family health, internal medicine, and multiple specialty practices.

One could find perioperative/ operating room positions advertised by different facilities. Sometimes the term ‘scrub nurse’ appeared. This is a lower level operating room position, beneath the level of circulating RN.

There were a number of postings for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Nationwide, assisted living is on the rise.

LPN Salary in Idaho

The Idaho Department of Labor has also provided detailed wage information about LPNs in different settings and practice areas. The median salaries reported in 2017 are based on 2015 figures. The highest paying work setting is a less common one: insurance and claims benefits with an average salary of $42,005.

Median earnings for other work settings are as follows:

  • Nursing homes and extended care: S39,738
  • Correctional facility: $39,430
  • Assisted living: $37,758
  • Ambulatory care: $36,311
  • Hospital: $35,494
  • Community health: $32,617
  • Home health: $32,245

There were some differences, too, according to reported specialty. Those with geriatric specialty reported an average $39,381 while those with medical-surgical specialty reported $34,926.

Role can make a large difference in earnings. The averaged reported for a staff nurse was $35,637; for a nurse manager, it was $45,385.

Actual salaries will of course vary, as will benefits. 2018 finds employers enticing practical nurses with a range of benefits, including dependent care and tuition assistance.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, using different methodologies, reports that Idaho LPNs made an average of $19.56, or $40,680 for a full-time year in 2016. This assumes 40-hour weeks.

Market Conditions for LPNs

The 2015 nursing overview included current numbers as well as projections for 2022. Needs – as measured by sheer numbers – were expected to increase across settings.

The Idaho Department of Labor takes into account supply-side factors like graduations when determining whether the market is in equilibrium. In general, Idaho’s nursing supply and demand are in relative balance. There is some concern, though, about ‘bleeding’ nurses to neighboring states where there is higher need and also the potential for higher salaries.

Overall, Idaho produces a slight surplus of LPNs. The Southwestern part of the state, however, has a significant deficit. The Northern part has a slight deficit, according to the latest report. Here, deficits were greater at higher licensing levels. Healthcare organizations in this region had been competing more to fill their positions, the Department of Labor noted, and proximity to Washington State created challenges.

The LPN workforce is one that may be mobile in multiple ways. The Department of Labor noted in its 2015 report that some LPNs would ultimately become RNs.

The Idaho Department of Labor compared Idaho wages with those of surrounding states and found that Idaho’s were the lowest, ranking behind Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming. The difference in average wage between Idaho and Montana was very slight. However, LPNs in Washington, Oregon, and Nevada were, on average, commanding much higher wages.

Related Articles:

Becoming a CNA in Idaho

RN Requirements in Idaho

Medical Assistant Classes and Certification in Idaho

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