Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse in New Mexico
New Mexico’s Licensed Practical Nurses work under direction to deliver basic nursing care. They perform various technical duties appropriate to their training. They participate in planning patient care. In some settings, experienced LPNs take on supervisory duties.
New Mexico employers seek LPNs in many settings. The following are common workplaces:
- Nursing homes and other short- and long-term residences for people with heath needs below the acute care level
- Doctors’ offices, clinics, and other settings where people walk in and out the same day
- Private homes
The New Mexico State Personnel Office notes the following among the possible work activities: providing bedside care, measuring pulse and respiration, giving injections, monitoring catheters, dressing wounds, gathering information, collecting specimens and performing routine tests, monitoring patients for adverse reactions, assisting medical practitioners with procedures, and instructing family members in providing care.
A person can be licensed as an LPN after completing an approved LPN program in New Mexico and passing the NCLEX licensing examination at the ‘PN’ level. New Mexico can accept programs at the practical nursing or registered nursing level.
The State Personnel Office distinguishes between basic, operational, and advanced roles. The government represents but one employer among many, but LPNs can expect other employers to make similar distinctions. Sometimes the realities of the job market make it easier to get hired. This is a plus – but good training can mean the nurse is more likely to succeed, stay… progress. LPNs can supplement the training they receive with continuing education.
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living
Nursing facilities represent an area of high need. LPNs may be sought for particular units, for example, transitional care. Nursing home duties can include administering prescribed medications, taking vital signs, making patient observations, and interacting with family members, as well as overseeing the work of the nursing assistants who provide the bulk of personal care; sometimes LPNs provide personal care such as hygiene themselves.
LPNs often progress to supervisory level positions in nursing facilities. In 2018, one will find postings for staff nurses and charge nurses to staff New Mexico facilities.
LPNs may work in intermediate care facilities as well as skilled nursing facilities. Intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities often co-exist. Intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled may house people who need regular nursing care but whose conditions are generally stable. One recent posting was from an intermediate care facility serving medically fragile children and young people.
The following are among New Mexico’s five star nursing facilities, according to Medicare data from 2018:
- The Neighborhood in Rio Rancho
- Montebello on the Academy in Albuquerque
- Life Care Center of Farmington
- Heartland Continuing Care Center in Portales
- Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation
- Advanced Health Care of Albuquerque
LPNs can carry out a number of important functions for assisted living facilities, including reviewing resident evaluations. The following are among the duties noted by employers: making rounds, administering medications, coordinating transfers, making healthcare arrangements with outside providers, making sure that resident weights and vital signs are taken, and ensuring that care managers can meet resident needs.
The hiring market also includes organizations that run group homes and adult day programs.
Home Health and Private Duty Nursing
Home health and private duty nursing positions take different forms. Nurses may pay short visits to people who are transitioning back home after acute medical events. They may instead opt for shift work with people who need round-the-clock care from a nurse or other caregiver.
Sometimes those who receive services are children. Private duty nurses make it possible for children with serious health conditions to live with their own families, and allow family members time for work, sleep, and other activities.
Pediatric home nursing can be a specialty. Other companies may offer specialty services. One company that advertised in New Mexico in 2018 specializes in meeting the needs of workers who have suffered ill effects as a result of employment in the nuclear weapons and uranium industries.
The State Personnel Office lists making nursing home visits among the functions considered ‘advanced’.
Other New Mexico LPN Job Settings
Among the settings for which LPNs were sought in New Mexico in 2018: family practice, radiation/ oncology, rheumatology, and women’s health services. Some patients may visit clinics and medical practices for check-ups; others are there to receive treatments. The practical nurse may count among his or her duties checking patients’ vitals and reporting abnormalities. One family practice noted that the LPN would perform or assist with various procedures from vision tests and irrigation of ears to EKGs and catheterization.
LPNs who work in medical practices and offices can have varying amounts of administrative duties. The role could include explaining paperwork as well as explaining procedures.
Among the roles for which LPNs have recently been sought:
- Administering medication to, and monitoring, individuals in addiction treatment
- Assisting in running a Job Corps wellness program
- Working in a corrections setting
2018 finds some hospital systems advertising for nurses at the LPN level.
Career Outlook and LPN Average Salary in New Mexico
New Mexico has been projected to see 6.2% LPN occupational growth across the 2014 to 2024 decade.
Some facilities have struggled to meet their staffing needs in the recent past. Where have all the nurses gone? asked KOB 4 Albuquerque (https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/eye-on-new-mexico-where-have-all-the-nurses-gone/4558757/). This is one of a number of articles that have called attention to nursing shortages in New Mexico.
New Mexico LPNs averaged $23.11 an hour in 2017.
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