Practical Nursing in Minnesota

Minnesota LPNs practice in a wide variety of healthcare settings. There are, however, some settings where they have greater likelihood of being employed. Practice falls largely in two categories. The first is long-term or extended care (facility-based or home-based). The second is offices or clinics that provide same-day service.

The LPN is an introductory nursing credential for some, a lifelong career for others. Higher level nursing credentials are useful for those who wish to work in hospitals and for those who seek to practice at the highest levels in long-term care or community-based settings. However, one can progress relatively far in some settings on the strength of an LPN (LPN programs in Minnesota).

The Board of Nursing does not provide a list of tasks that fall under each license category. Instead it provides a more general delineation of scope. LPN scope includes focused assessment while RN scope includes comprehensive assessment; the word “synthesis” appears in the RN scope. The RN scope also lists duties such as health promotion and case finding.

Various organizations weigh in on what nurses at different levels actually do.

A Look at the Minnesota LPN Workforce

The Minnesota Department of Health published a profile of the state’s LPNs in 2017 (http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/workforce/nurse/index.html).

Just 8% are hospital nurses. Nursing home/ extended care/ and assisted living serve as primary workplace for 29% of the state’s LPNS; home health for another 8%. Many other practical nurses are employed in settings that provide residents with round-the-clock care or monitoring at something other than an acute care level. 3% of the state’s LPNs are based in group homes or residential care, 2% in rehabilitation facilities.

23% of the state’s LPNs are based in clinics or provider offices. Provider offices, clinic settings, and ambulatory care together comprise 35%. (Urgent care clinics and ambulatory surgical centers are considered separate categories; each employs about 1%.)

Among the other organizations that employ LPNs are schools, correctional facilities, hospices, and mental health centers.

Spotlight on LPNs in Long-Term Care

Nursing facilities provide rehabilitative care as well as true long-term care.

St. Cloud’s SC Times has included more than one article about nurses in long-term care. One nurse, shadowed by a reporter and three high school students interested in practical nursing, interacted jovially with a man who used eye motions and a specially designed word and phrase board to communicate (https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/spark/2017/12/01/nurse-patient-relationship-reward/860356001/). What made the career more rewarding than acute care, in this nurse’s eyes, was the depth of relationships. She had gone from nursing assistant to LPN to registered nurse in a long-term care setting. Earning her LPN allowed her duties such as medication administration; the RN credential had taken her further.

Assisted living is an area where there are exciting new developments and where some LPNs progress far. The number of residents has increased relative to the number of nursing home residents.

Todd Stivland, MD., CEO of Minnesota-based Bluestone Physician Services, states that assisted living is becoming more medically-focused, providing for residents who are ill and have complex needs (http://www.providermagazine.com/archives/2014_Archives/Pages/0714/Interconnecting-Trends-Reshape.aspx#magazine-article). He describes how technology is changing assisted living, noting that the pace is very different from one facility to another. LPNs are among the healthcare professionals hired directly by Bluestone. Among their duties: making rounds with healthcare providers and updating the patients’ electronic medical records (EMRs). Bluestone, not surprisingly, seeks a tech-savvy crew.

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There is a place in assisted living for nurses with varying skill sets. Also featured by the SC Times is a question and answer session with an LPN who has been climbing the long-term care career ladder, most recently in assisted living (https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/spark/2017/12/03/q/857864001). She had worked her way up from nursing assistant after discovering to her surprise that long-term care was, on a deep emotional level, where she belonged. She was promoted to program director and then to assisted living coordinator.

The following facilities have been recognized at the silver level as part of the American Health Care Association/ National Center for Assisted Living quality improvement/ quality achievement recognition program:

  • Country View Senior Living Community
  • Good Samaritan Society – Specialty Care
  • Koda Living Community
  • Minnesota Masonic Home Care Center
  • St. Crispin Living Community-Care Center
  • The Villa at Osseo

NRC Health has recognized the following facilities in the workplace category: Friendship Village South Hills Assisted Living Facility, Primrose Retirement Community of Duluth, and Serenity Assisted Living. Additional skilled nursing and assisted living facilities have been recognized for client satisfaction.

Minnesota is looking to make requirements more stringent for assisted living facilities in the coming years, instituting true licensing as opposed to a looser form of regulation (https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/news/task-force-calls-for-big-changes-in-assisted-living-dementia-care-by-2020/article/740664/?check=true). Dementia care may become a certification area.

Average LPN Salary in Minnesota and Career Outlook

Though multiple organizations have reported a downturn in LPN acute care employment, the overall trend is upward and career prospects bright, due to changing populations and healthcare needs. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has the occupation classified as “five star” with a prediction of 11.3% 10-year growth; this is just half a percentage point lower than the projected growth for registered nurses.

When figure on a per-population basis, Minnesota has more LPNs in rural areas than in urban ones. This is very different than the trend that is seen in most healthcare occupations, including RN.

Minnesota licensed practical nurses averaged $20.97 in 2016; this is $43,620 for a year of 40-hour weeks.

In many settings, including nursing homes and hospitals, a full-time schedule is typically three twelve-hour shifts. LPNs in some settings, though, do work 40 hours.

Some organizations include tuition assistance among the benefits.

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