Practical Nursing in South Dakota

Practical nursing is a job for people who have compassion and human savvy and want to do more than just provide basic comfort. South Dakota LPNs carry out many technical tasks, including some that involve specialized equipment such as naso-gastric tubes or Foley catheters. They remove sutures and change sterile dressings and even carry out some trach care duties. LPNs administer medication by multiple routes, including inhalation and muscular injection. They are allowed some Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis duties and some IV duties.

South Dakota places some limits on technical nursing duties and allows some to be performed for adolescent and adult patients that it does not allow for young children. The scope of practice is further limited by external factors including the nurse’s own training and whether the organization has policies in place to support the particular duty. LPNs work under supervision.

LPNs have a more limited role in carrying out other stages of the nursing process. They apply professional judgment but not at the level of a registered nurse. An LPN can act as charge nurse when working in settings where patients are stable. It is very common around the nation for LPNs to act as charge nurses in nursing homes. South Dakota allows them to supervise unlicensed workers such as nursing assistants.

Most South Dakota LPNs spend the vast majority of their time on the job providing direct patient care. There are exceptions. In a recent survey carried out by the South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce, fully 12% of the state’s practical nurses reported that they either spent no time providing direct care or that direct care constituted a minority of their time on the job (25%, more or less).

An Overview of LPN Work Settings

What an LPN does on the job will depend in part on the setting. South Dakota, like many states, provides relatively detailed information about its practical nursing workforce. In 2017 the South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce published a nursing report, based on 2016 data (https://doh.sd.gov/boards/nursing/RandP.aspx). 29% of South Dakota LPNs were employed in long-term care. The next most common LPN employment setting (discounting the “other” category) was ambulatory care. Home and community-based settings accounted for a little over 10%. Nearly 10% were still employed in hospital settings. This is a setting that, nationwide, is employing fewer LPNs.

More than 1.5% of South Dakota LPNs were employed in school or academic settings. Another 1% were employed in correctional settings.

LPN Employment in Ambulatory Care and Hospital Settings

Ambulatory care settings are ones where people don’t need to stay overnight. Ambulatory care settings can serve a general population or a very specialized one. Some specialized clinics or practices are under the banner of large medical systems. In early 2018, Sanford Health, one of South Dakota’s major healthcare employers, advertised for LPNs in the following areas: orthopedics clinic, family medicine, acute ambulatory care, infectious diseases, vascular, ENT/ audiology, and children’s specialty, among others. (The organization was also seeking LPNs for employment in long-term care.)

Hospital inpatient settings are typically a more difficult market. Opportunities will depend on the hiring market, among other factors. One South Dakota hospital recently advertised for a nurse with either RN or LPN licensing who could carry out evaluative procedures necessary for surgical clearance; prior experience was expected.

LPNs in Long-Term Care and Community Settings

Nursing facilities serve populations that are, to varying degrees, disabled or frail or have health needs that they can’t manage independently. There has in recent years been some trend away from placing people in nursing homes, at least when a less restrictive option is possible. South Dakota has more relatively low-needs nursing home residents than the average state, and is also below the norm in transitioning both short-stay and long-stay residents back to the community. The state does, however, have more assisted living and residential care units available when figured against the number of elderly residents – here it ranks #10.

The South Dakota Department of Health has provided a search option for licensed facilities, including assisted living, nursing homes, and home health care organizations (https://apps.sd.gov/ph04lassnet/rptPH04LicenseList.Aspx). Not surprisingly, a search turns up many organizations.

A number of organizations publish information about the quality and desirability of particular facilities. Some are more subjective than others, and some take into account the perspective of workers. Five South Dakota assisted living facilities are noteworthy in that they were recognized in both the NRC Health resident satisfaction and associate satisfaction categories in 2017; each of these five facilities operates under the Edgewood banner.

Advancement Opportunities

There’s plenty to do at the LPN level (LPN programs in South Dakota), and practical nursing can be a lifelong career. Ultimately, though, nurses have the most opportunity if they complete additional education and progress to the level of RN (LPN ro RN programs). The South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce reported that 11.8% of LPNs were currently enrolled in nursing programs leading to licensure at the RN level. More than a third were pursuing their education at the bachelor’s level (LPN to BSN programs). South Dakota supports academic progression through upward mobility programs.

Average LPN Salary in South Dakota

South Dakota’s LPNs averaged $17.84 an hour in 2016. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates earnings at $37,100 for a year of 40-hour weeks.

A majority of South Dakota LPNs work between 36 and 40 hours a week. (In some settings, it is common for nurses to work three 12-hour shifts.)

South Dakota’s licensed professional nursing occupation has been projected to see 1.1% occupational growth between 2014 and 2024. In other words, the number of jobs is expected to grow, but not at the level, percentage-wise, that many states are seeing.

The South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce reports that there has been a net loss of LPNs in the state during recent years – the number of new LPNs added to the workforce has not been enough to offset losses through retirement and other workforce exits.

Unemployment rate was low in 2016 with only 1.7% of LPNs unemployed and actively looking for work. (Some additional practical nurses were out of the job market, but for voluntary reasons.)

Related Articles:

Becoming a CNA in South Dakota

RN Requirements in South Dakota

How to Become a Medical Assistant in South Dakota

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