Practical Nursing in Nebraska
Nebraska’s Licensed Practical Nurses do just what their title implies: provide practical nursing care. The care they give is of fundamental importance to the state’s elderly and convalescent residents and to many generally healthy populations as well. Rural areas have more LPNs than nonrural areas, when figured on a per-population basis.
The vast majority of Nebraska LPNs — 82.3% — identify their role as staff nurse. This typically indicates a general direct care role. LPNs have varied technical duties. The Nebraska Board of Nursing utilizes the Scope of Nursing Practice Decision-Making Framework to determine scope of practice at different levels of licensure. The Board sometimes issues advisory opinions. The Board has for example, stated that particular wound care duties are within the scope of practice. Some technical nursing duties are considered to be only within the scope of an RN, or even of an RN with training above the minimum (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/crlRNLPNAdvisoryOpinions.aspx).
It’s not a long path to licensure. A prospective LPN will complete an approved program, pass a licensing examination, and undergo a criminal background check. The educational program can be quite short, taking just nine months to a year (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/pages/crlnursinghome.aspx). Nebraska programs now include training in IVs; LPNs who have not met the new Nebraska educational standards will need to take a supplemental course to be determined competent for IV duties (LPN programs in Nebraska).
Practical nursing can be a life-long career or a step along the path. A substantial percentage of Nebraska LPNs are enrolled in higher education programs.
LPNs in Long-Term and Home Care
A high proportion of Nebraska LPNs work with elderly, chronically ill, and convalescent populations. In early 2018, there are a number of nursing facilities hiring. Some postings note position is for charge nurse. The Nebraska Center for Nursing published a workforce report in 2016 based on 2015 re-licensure surveys. Nearly 40% of the 2015 survey respondents reported their work setting as nursing home, extended care, or assisted living. Another 6% reported being employed in home health settings.
Many Nebraska LPNs consider themselves to have a geriatric or gerontology specialty; this response was chosen by 34.8% of total respondents – not surprising given the predominance of long-term care work settings. Another 4.4% reported it as rehabilitation.
Assisted living facilities have some of the same functions, though acuity levels tend to be lower. Assisted living facilities may provide non-complex nursing care. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services advises people that there is wide variety in assisted living facilities, including availability of LPNs and RNs.
Some assisted living residents arrange on their own for health services through home health or private duty organizations. This can make for a complex situation.
Many Nebraska nursing facilities were recognized by NRC Health in the workplace category in 2017. Recognition is based on associate satisfaction. The list includes Hooper Care Center, North Platte Care Center, York General Hearthstone, Southlake Village in Lincoln, Brookefield Park in St. Paul, and The LightHouse Health Care Residences at Lakeside in Omaha.
Many assisted living facilities, too, made the cut. Here one finds Kingswood Court in Superior, Primrose Retirement Community of Grand Island, The Heritage at Legacy Assisted Living in Omaha, Ridgewood in Lincoln, Westgate Assisted Living in Omaha, Willow Brook Assisted Living in York, and Edgewood Vista Memory Care (Norfolk and Columbus locations).
LPNs in Clinic and Hospital Settings
The role of a clinic or practice LPN can include taking patient histories, performing blood draws, and handling specimens. The nurse may even administer vaccines. The role also includes explaining procedures and care to the patient. There may be some front office duties. Coordinating patient flow is sometimes listed among job duties; care coordination may also appear.
Pediatric settings and allergy clinics are not uncommon settings. LPNs may also work in specialized medical settings such as cardiology. In some practitioner settings, LPN candidates may compete against medical assistants. Having the LPN credential can still confer some advantages, including a path to higher levels of nursing.
Duties will vary, depending on practitioner specialty. A position in an orthopedic office, for example, may include removing some basic items that were used in the restorative process.
10.4% of Nebraska LPNs report having an adult or family care specialty; another 8.4% report their special as primary care. Pediatrics and neonatal, meanwhile, comprised 3.2%.
Hospital employment is 13% — higher than in many states, in a time when hospital positions increasingly go to nurses with high levels of education. In 2018, one does still see some Nebraska hospitals soliciting nurses at the LPN level. With so many procedures taking place in outpatient settings, it is not always clear from postings what the setting is within the hospital system. The realities of the market have a bearing on opportunity.
Other Employment Options
Between 1.5% and 2% of Nebraska LPNs consider their specialty to be each of the following: school health, women’s health, community health, and public health. Many other areas of practice are possible. A substantial percentage of LPNs select the “other” category. A March 2018 scan of Nebraska practical nursing job postings reveals LPNs do indeed take on many roles, including act as authorization specialist – healthcare has grown complex in many ways.
LPN Salary in Nebraska and Benefits
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Nebraska LPNs made an average of $19.54 in 2016 and equates this to annual earnings of $40,630. The state survey indicates, though, that actual salaries are often lower.
2018 does find some employers advertising signing bonuses for LPNs.
Nebraska LPNs are by and large, very pleased with their career choice. 68.1% reported that they were very satisfied, and all but 2.1% reported that they were at least somewhat satisfied. Satisfaction with current employer is high, though not as high. 53.7% reported they were very satisfied, 42.5% that they were somewhat satisfied.
It appears that Nebraska LPNs are satisfied with nursing because they are person-centered and they care. The top reward cited? Assisting patients — this was selected as #1 by nearly half of respondents. The least favorite thing? Salary. In all fairness, this was the #2 response; when asked about their dislikes, the #1 choice, selected by 28.2% of Nebraska LPNs, was that there was nothing they disliked.
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