Becoming an LPN in Kentucky

Licensed Practical Nurses carry out many roles to support Kentucky’s frail, elderly, and disabled citizens. LPNs are just what the name suggests: licensed nurses whose training is largely practical. Training is typically at the certificate level (LPN programs in Kentucky). LPNs don’t have the level of educational preparation that an RN does, but there’s a lot they can do!

LPNs work under direction. The Board notes that they can work under direction, though, in many different settings and roles. LPNs are most often employed to provide direct care, but they have roles in areas like management, quality assurance, and administration. LPNs work with RNs to assess and plan as well as carry out nursing tasks. Kentucky allows delegation by LPNs: to unlicensed healthcare workers and also to other LPNs.

There are a number of factors that have a bearing on the level of direction or supervision needed: the stability of the patient’s condition, the complexity of the task, and the LPN’s own level of preparation; LPNs may gain additional expertise through continuing education as well as through the practice of nursing. Scope of practice is complex.

Often, level of licensure s reflected in work setting. One is less likely to find LPNs in acute care in hospital settings, though it’s not prohibited.

Nursing Homes and Elder Care

Nursing facilities are the single biggest employer for Licensed Practical Nurses nationwide, and one will plenty of them advertising in Kentucky.

Today’s nursing facilities serve multiple roles. They do far more than provide a home for the frail elderly. Recent years have been characterized by medical advances and also by the push to contain cost and facilitate recovery and rehabilitation in the least restrictive environment. One of the big functions is post-acute care. While nursing facility residents tend to be elderly, one will find younger adults spending time there as well.

Nurses may serve elders in other settings such as personal care homes or home health organizations.

Some nurses have a gift for making people’s last few months of life as comfortable and rewarding as it can be. Those who relish the challenge become hospice nurses. Hospice nurses also support the patients’ loved ones in meeting their own needs.

Snapshots of Kentucky Employers

The following is a look at some Kentucky employers that utilize LPNs in areas such as post-acute care, hospice, dementia/memory care, and care management:

Signature Healthcare: Many elders in long-term care have Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Fortunately, there are many organizations working to improve dementia care — and this can make the job a little more rewarding for those who provide care as well. Twelve Kentucky Signature Healthcare branches have been certified in Music and Memory, a program that utilizes personalized music to ease the struggles of those suffering from dementia. Signature Healthcare has also formed a partnership with artists assembled by the TimeSlips organization to create “I Won’t Grow Up”; this is a special project that encompasses 12 rural Kentucky nursing homes (http://www.timeslips.org/). TimeSlips is well known for using storytelling to reach those with dementia.

Bluegrass Care Navigators: Blue Grass Care Navigators is a major healthcare organization that specializes in hospice but is expanding to provide additional services: transitions as well as palliative care. Continuous care and extra care LPNs provide direct care in the home. LPNs can also be considered for the role of transitions care coach. Transition care coaches have the opportunity to help reduce preventable hospitalizations and emergency room visits. They do so by developing coaching relationships with at-risk individuals who suffer from chronic illness.

South Shore Nursing & Rehabilitation Center provides complex medical care, including care of ulcerations and wounds. South Shore was honored by NRC Health in 2017 in both the associate satisfaction category and resident satisfaction categories.

Morning Pointe: Morning Pointe utilizes nurses in personal care homes to provide services such as diabetic management. The Lantern at Morning Pointe in Frankfort is an Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence. It is is certified in Music and Memory.

Blanchfield Army Community Hospital: Some LPNs are hired by hospital systems. Indeed sometimes they are recruited en masse. The Clarkesville NOW called attention to an LPN job fair hosted by Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in 2017 (http://clarksvillenow.com/local/blanchfield-to-host-job-fair-for-licensed-practical-nurses). A visit to the website in early 2018 finds positions posted in family medicine. The organization touts a base salary of $40,000 to $50,000 and benefits.

LPN Career Advancement

Advancing to RN level can mean greater opportunities and higher earnings. A recent write-up by the International Nurses Association, though, demonstrates just how far a nurse can go while remaining at the LPN level (https://www.prnewschannel.com/2018/01/23/esteemed-licensed-practical-nurse-anna-l-greene-lpn-will-be-spotlighted-in-the-worldwide-leaders-in-healthcare). The profile is of a staff nurse and supervisor at Ridgeway Nursing & Rehab; she is now recognized in Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare. The organization notes that the nurse has pursued advanced trainings and is IV-certified.

Career Outlook and Average LPN Salary in Kentucky

Practical nursing is big in Kentucky, and it’s likely to get bigger still, due in part to changing demographics. The Kentucky practical nursing occupation has been projected to increase by 27% over the course of the 2014 to 2024 decade.

Kentucky’s Licensed Practical Nurses made an average hourly wage of $18.97 in 2017. The range was wide, with those at the 10th percentile making $14.72 and those at the 90th percentile making $23.79.

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