Practical Nursing in Missouri

Missouri’s Licensed Practical Nurses work with patient populations in a variety of settings. They typically serve those whose needs are not at the critical level. They may work with people who are elderly or have ongoing serious health needs. Conversely, they may serve people with less intensive needs who visit clinics, medical practices, and other community settings.

LPNs have technical duties such as caring for people who have wounds or ulcerated skin or who need equipment to help them stay oxygenated or nourished. They also provide guidance to nursing assistants.

LPNs who work in practitioner offices may spend part of their time with a needle in hand, carrying out routine clinical duties, and part of their time managing the flow of patients and health information.

Long-Term and Extended Care

Long-term and extended care facilities are major employers of LPNs nationwide. Options include residential and assisted living facilities as well as skilled nursing facilities. Missouri sets licensing requirements for each type of facility. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provides information about different types of long-term care facility (https://healthapps.dhss.mo.gov/showmeltc/default.aspx).

These days, nursing facilities are about rehabilitation and restoration, not just maintenance. LPNs may work on specialized units with particular population groups. Organizations may, for example, have separate units for post-acute care and true long-term care.

Some facilities operate as part of continuing care retirement communities. They may provide various services, including respite care. Some individuals may spend time at the facility only during daytime hours.

Assisted living is an option for people who need some level of residential care. There are different levels of assisted living in Missouri. Some assisted living communities will consider LPNs for positions as advanced as Director of Assisted Living. In early 2018, a Missouri state government agency even advertised for an experienced LPN to assist with inspections of assisted living and residential care facilities and adult day care programs.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living work together to facilitate quality in senior living communities. The following Missouri facilities were recently recognized at the silver level in the AHCA/ NCAL quality development program:

  • Life Care Center of Carrollton
  • Life Care Center of Waynesville
  • Nazareth Living Center in Saint Louis
  • The Manor at Elfindale in Springfield

LPNs Working with Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

Many LPNs work with elders who have Alzheimer’s or other dementias; patients may have various concurrent age-related physical issues. Missouri has communities that are active in improving dementia care. A 2017 report notes the Missouri Dementia Coalition’s 2016 successes (https://www.nhqualitycampaign.org/files/State_Dementia_Care_Coalition_Best-Practice_Strategies.pdf). Among them were special projects at a number of nursing homes:

  • Life Enrichment Through Poetry (funded for 16 nursing homes)
  • Music and Memory (funded for 30 nursing homes)
  • Restorative Sleep Program (funded for 40 nursing homes)

All 500 nursing homes received monthly tips and resources. A number of staff received Hand in Hand training, whether through conference attendance or directly through their employing nursing home.

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Home Health and Private Duty Nursing

Some LPN travel to patient’s homes. People often need some level of home health support following an acute medical episode; this may be described as intermittent nursing care. The term private duty nursing (PDN) may be used to describe situations where people need more than just intermittent visits from a nurse. Some Missouri organizations hire private duty nurses to provide in-home services for children whose medical needs are beyond those that can be met by a parent. Missouri’s Healthy Children and Youth program provides for medically fragile children. Phoenix Home Care is among the providers.

Recent Practical Nursing Job Openings

A 2018 Missouri job search reveals that LPNs are considered for a wide variety of positions in medical practices, clinics, and other community settings. The following is a sampling of roles:

  • Teaching people how to do finger stick blood tests
  • Explaining clinical research trials to perspective participants and carrying out study-related procedures like blood draws
  • Performing allergy-related clinical duties such as allergy testing and injections/ carrying out some front office duties in an ear, nose, and throat practice
  • Carrying out basic clinical tasks in a family practice setting (for example, recording health history and medical complaint, taking vital signs, and performing blood draws and vaccinations)
  • Carrying out weekly in-home medication management and assessment sessions

Becoming an LPN in Missouri

Prospective LPNs complete training (LPN programs in Missouri), then take a licensing examination; the same one is in use around the nation. A practical nursing program typically runs about 18 months, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (http://health.mo.gov/living/families/primarycare/pdf/MissouriNursingWorkforce2015.pdf).

Advancement

Practical nurses may continue their education and progress to the level of RN.

Career Outlook and Average LPN Salary in Missouri

Employment projections forecast 7% LPN occupational growth in Missouri over the course of the 2014 to 2024 decade.

Geographic distribution is not even. LPNs are concentrated more heavily in some Missouri counties.

Missouri Licensed Practical Nurses earned an average hourly wage of $17.71 in 2016; the Bureau of Labor Statistics equates this to $36,840 a year.

Additional Resources

The Missouri State Association of Licensed Practical Nurses is an additional resource (https://www.mosalpn.org).

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