Becoming an LPN in Tennessee
Tennessee residents rely on LPNs. LPNs are nurses with a scope of practice between nursing assistant and RN. They carry out various technical acts in addition to providing basic comfort. Often they work as part of healthcare teams. They play a part in carrying out different stages of the nursing process (including assessment and development of care plans) though not at the level of an RN.
In Tennessee, LPNs sometimes even administer IV push medications, though there is a lengthy set of requirements that must be met – this requires more than just the basic practical nursing training.
Nursing Facilities Employment
Nursing facilities are the most common single employer nationwide. Many modern nursing facilities have the word rehabilitation in the name. This has become an important function. The Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing notes that joint replacement, surgery, orthopedic injuries, and strokes are among the reasons people spend time in rehabilitation.
Nursing homes also have many long-stay residents, including a substantial population with dementia. Tennessee, like other states, has been working to manage agitation and other effects of dementia without resorting to use of drugs. The Tennessee Eden Alternative Coalition has helped bring a grant-funded program “Reframing Dementia: Train the Change Agent” to a number of Tennessee nursing homes. The Pioneer Network has describe the state’s other recent accomplishments in bringing person-centered care to the nursing home (https://www.pioneernetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2016-Coalitions-Accomplishments.pdf).
Staff nurses provide treatment to residents. Some LPNs are hired to work as charge nurses; this entails a little more responsibility.
LPNs in Home Health and Private Duty Nursing
Private duty nurses may help children who need care around the clock live at home in the face of very serious medical conditions (http://www.wate.com/news/investigations/knoxville-woman-has-trouble-with-disabled-sons-round-the-clock-care/834539154). Some agencies advertise for LPNs with trach/ vent experience.
Many nurses travel from client to client and stay with them for only short spans of time. Patients are often, though not always, older adults.
LPNs in Assisted Living and Memory Care
Assisted living provides an alternative for people who don’t need – or want – quite a nursing home level of care. Tennessee assisted living facilities may provide intermittent or part-time nursing care (in addition to other medical services allowable under state code). There are some limitations on the services provided, but one will sometimes find residents who are receiving treatments such as nasogastric feedings or IV therapy. LPN duties can include administering medication, monitoring glucose levels, supervising nursing assistants, making rounds, and reporting resident condition.
These facilities also serve individuals with dementia. The term memory care is often used. Facilities may utilize various programs to maintain function and enhance quality of life. Five Star Senior Living facilities, for example, employ Bridge to Rediscovery, a Montessori-based approach.
The Crossville Chronicle recently reported on a new assisted living community that was registered with the Eden Alternative (http://www.crossville-chronicle.com/news/lifestyles/uplands-village-opens-memory-care-assisted-living-home/article_5bf376d8-0820-11e7-9ca1-03d8837bf3d9.html). Eden Alternative facilities are designed to be home-like; value is placed on interactions with the natural world.
Some LPNs go far in the world of assisted living. Facilities may even consider LPNs for Director of Nursing. The Director of Nursing at Creekside at Three Rivers Assisted Living, an LPN, was recently featured on OpenLine Ask the Expert (https://www.newschannel5.com/plus/openline/openline-creekside-assisted-living-august).
Clinic, Physician’s Office, and Outpatient Settings
LPNs can also be found in clinic, practice, and outpatient settings. These settings may be generalist or very specialized. The Greenville Sun recently profiled a new practice run by advanced practice nurses; it also had an LPN on board (https://www.greenevillesun.com/business/local_business_news/clinic-offering-primary-care-with-nursing-emphasis/article_668c268e-74c2-57d0-aaab-ea020e673ded.html). This particular clinic provides the basic, including sports physicals as well as sick care.
Nurses employed by the Methodist Wound Treatment Center work with a very different population. The treatment center provides specialized treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Oakridge Today quotes a hyperbaric LPN who takes pleasure in seeing people return to their normal lifestyles. The care provided at this type of center is what saves some from amputation (http://oakridgetoday.com/2016/06/21/methodist-wound-treatment-center-celebrating-10-years-of-saving-lives-limbs/).
The following are among the clinic/practice positions that one will find posted in early 2018:
- Pediatric clinic (with front office duties as well as clinical duties such as blood draws)
- Skin and allergy practice
- Urgent care
- Family clinic
- Sports, orthopedics and spine clinic/ surgical setting
- Primary care veteran’s clinic (to act as part of Patient Aligned Care Team , or PACT)
- Onsite occupational health clinic
- Clinic floater (working cross multiple clinics)
One Tennessee employer noted that a clinic LPN had, as his or her primary duty, managing patient flow. Clinic LPNs often room patients and carry out basic duties such as taking health history and vitals. They may have some front office duties. However, they also carry out technical tasks like injections and assist the provider with procedures.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center website includes profiles of nurses with more specialized roles outside traditional patient care (http://www.vumcnursingcareers.com/index.html). One serves as a case manager and patient assistance coordinator; she is the first LPN to reach the LPN4 level on the Vanderbilt Professional Nursing Practice Program (VPNPP), professional advancement program.
Becoming an LPN in Tennessee and Career Advancement
A prospective LPN will need to complete a approved practical nursing program in Tennessee or comparable out-of-state program. He or she will need to pass an examination.
Tennessee programs include 550 instructional hours and well over 400 hours of clinical experience.. The bulk of this is typically medical-surgical nursing, but there are also required experiences with mother-baby, pediatric, and mental health populations. Of these, the requirement for mother and infant care is highest: 60 hours.
While some organizations have challenging and rewarding in-house career advancement programs, a nurse can typically go further if he or she pursues a nursing degree and achieves licensure at the RN level. LPN to RN bridge programs facilitate this progression.
LPNs who want to keep their status despite being out of the workforce for a while may wish to consider volunteer nursing. Homeless clinics and parish nursing are among the options referenced in state code.
LPN Salary in Tennessee and Career Outlook
Tennessee LPNs averaged $18.23 in 2016.
The Tennessee practical nursing occupation is expected to grow! 28% occupational growth has been projected for the 2014 to 2024 decade.
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