Becoming an LPN in Maine

Maine’s Licensed Practical Nurses work in organized healthcare settings. They provide basic care and comfort and carry out some technical duties. The training period for a practical nurse is shorter than it is for a registered nurse. Some use the LPN as a stepping stone to a higher nursing credential.

Some LPNs pursue additional training to increase the duties they can take on. In Maine, IV duties beyond the most basic require a special training program. The course authorizes duties performed under supervision in hospital, nursing home, and skilled care settings. The LPN training course is designed for work with adult patients, but the LPN can take an additional short course for authorization to work with pediatric patients. The authorized settings for pediatric patients are the same as for adult patients. Some IV-related duties are reserved for registered nurses.

Individual states determine the scope of practice. This, in combination with employer needs, determines work setting. Maine is more restrictive than some in certain areas. The state does not allow LPNs to work as private duty nurses unless they are in the employ of community health agencies.

Positions in Nursing Homes

A 2018 job search will turn up a number of positions in nursing facilities; nurses employed in this capacity may serve long-term residents and those requiring short-term rehabilitative care. Some nursing homes rely on overtime for staffing hours. While this is a source of concern, some LPNs and other staff members relish the increased earnings (https://www.pressherald.com/2017/08/27/staff-vacancies-brings-portland-nursing-home-overtime-to-same-level-as-firefighters-police).

There is a lot going on in Maine nursing homes that’s positive. The Dementia Care Coalition recently reported on a peer mentoring program by which nursing homes that had been successful in reducing antipsychotic medication usage were partnered with those that were struggling. The coalition also noted use of funding for widespread implementation of Music and Memory, a program that has been demonstrated effective for improving functioning of people with dementia; the program has the potential to make it easier to meet the needs of people with dementia in an organizational setting. The Music and Memory websites lists more than 60 certified organizations in Maine (https://musicandmemory.org/about/certified-music-and-memory-nursing-homes).

Nursing homes remain of mixed quality. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issues star ratings. The following were among those recognized as much above average in 2018:

  • Westgate Center for Rehab & Alzheimers Care in Bangor
  • South Portland Nursing Home
  • Presque Isle Rehab and Nursing Center
  • Norway Center for Health & Rehabilitation, LLC
  • Mid Coast Senior Health Center in Brunswick
  • Maine Veterans Home (South Paris, Scarborough, Caribou, and Augusta locations)
  • Lakewood Continuing Care Center in Waterville
  • Katahdin Nursing Home in Millinocket
  • Colonial Health Care in Lincoln
  • Clover Manor in Auburn

Star ratings do not tell the full story. Other organizations issue awards and recognitions to elder care facilities. The following Maine facilities reached silver level in the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living quality development program in 2017:

  • Hawthorne House in Freeport
  • Marshall Health Care in Machias
  • Pine Point Center in Scarborough

Some facilities recognized in past years are still active – they may continue the climb toward gold.

NRC Health, meanwhile, recognized one Maine skilled nursing facility in the workplace category in 2018, Stillware Healthcare in Bangor.

Maine’s population is growing older, and the trend is expected to continue for a number of years. This translates into high need for nurses in elder care settings. Ultimately nursing homes need leaders as well as staff.

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Becoming an LPN and Advancing

A prospective LPN must complete an approved LPN program in Maine and then pass the NCLEX-PN, a licensing examination.

As of early 2018, Maine has no practical nursing programs. One closed in 2015 after failing to meet state standards. Maine does license LPNs by endorsement.

Job opportunities exist for those with the training. In 2018, a number of Maine employers are either advertising specifically for practical nurses or considering them to fill needed roles. Some of the advertised positions are outside the nursing home/ skilled nursing arena. Among the other possible career options: ‘ed tech’ in a school setting.

In some instances, LPN job candidates may compete against individuals with other backgrounds. Clinic or office settings, for example, may consider either a medical assistant or LPN. Professionals with various backgrounds may be considered for roles such as care manager.

Due to geographical constraints, some individuals will find it easier to move up the ladder from LPN than to do their initial training at that level. LPNs may choose to enroll in an RN program with an LPN upgrade option.

In late 2015, there were well under 10% as many LPNs as RNs in Maine (2,001 vs. 23,371).

LPN Salary in Maine

Maine’s Licensed Practical Nurses made an average wage of $21.44 an hour in 2017, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics. Those at the 10th percentile made $17.08 while those at the 90th percentile made $25.90.

Maine’s practical nursing occupation has been predicted to decrease half a percentage point between 2017 and 2019. Maine is one of just three states for which a decrease has been predicted during these years.

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