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Becoming an LPN in Vermont

There are a few things Vermont’s Licensed Practical Nurses can be assured of: First off, they're needed, and they matter. LPNs are licensed nurses who provide nursing care to some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. They also provide some of the routine care that helps people stay healthy. Another plus: There are organizations in the state actively supporting nurses.

The Vermont LPN Role

Vermont LPNs are considered to have a dependent role. They work under direction and delegation. They don't independently carry out assessments and formulate plans of care, but they do make important contributions. They may carry out triage when they are following clear protocols or orders or are engaged in consultation with a healthcare professional. They can also delegate tasks; it is very common for LPNs to delegate to nursing assistants (LNAs) in nursing home settings. LPNs can even teach LNAs. Of course, the biggest part of what practical nurses do is provide direct care, from giving injections to helping prevent broken skin. Here LPNs act in accordance with general standards of practice and with their own training and competency.

Vermont Technical College notes that employers include long-term care providers, doctor's offices and outpatient settings, as well as other agencies that provide healthcare services.

In 2018, one finds job postings in many settings. Employers are considering LPNs to take on the following roles, among others: provide palliative care in home settings, care for pediatric patients at a community health center, act as office nurse for a family practice, and administer medications and treatments in adult day care.

Becoming an LPN and Advancing

It takes about a year to complete a practical nursing program in Vermont. Vermont has a system in place which allows a person to complete their education at the practical level or continue on for another year to obtain an associate degree (or several years to earn a bachelor's degree). Students may opt to continue their education the first time through or return at a later point. Essentially, Vermont practical nursing represents the first year of a professional nursing program.

Vermont Long-Term Care Facilities

In Vermont, nursing home resident dignity and self-determination are addressed in state code. Multiple organizations are working toward nursing home transformation. OASIS training has transformed lives of some nursing home residents -- and likely staff members as well. Interested individuals can read some stories on the website of the Vermont Health Care Association (https://www.vhca.net/quality/).

The Vermont Health Care Association also refers individual nurses and other nursing home staff to the National Nursing Home Quality Improvement Campaign. Individual staff members can register (https://www.nhqualitycampaign.org/participantNHStaff.aspx). So much of what happens in nursing homes seems to occur at the organizational level, but here individual staff can learn ways they can help. They can also learn about particular objectives, and how they matter to residents, staff members, and the nursing home as a whole. Reducing pressure ulcers, for example, can mean fewer infections and enhanced quality of life for residents, greater job satisfaction for staffers (and less time providing treatments after problems have occurred).

Many elders opt for a different long-term option: assisted living. Vermont code allows assisted living facilities to retain residents who wouldn't have been eligible for admission because of high needs, provided they can meet those needs. At its best, this allows for aging in place. In order to allow residents to do so safely, assisted living/ senior living facilities need healthcare supports in place. There has been a trend toward rising acuity in assisted living nationwide -- and toward greater use of nurses in these settings.

Some receive supportive services in their own homes or in other community settings. According to the most recent AARP data, Vermont is #12 in the nation when it comes to Medicaid long term services and supports (LTSS) recipients who first receive their services in community settings. It is #10 with regard to home health patients who require hospitalization – in other words, there are fewer hospitalizations needed than in the nation as a whole. It is also #10 with regard to having fewer low-needs nursing home patients. (Often these are people whose needs could theoretically be met in a less restrictive setting.)

Projected Future LPN Workforce Needs

In Vermont, 39% increase in demand for LPNs is projected between 2015 and 2030 if current patterns in service delivery continue; this is according to Care Workforce Demand in Vermont, a report prepared for the Vermont Agency of Administration with funding from the Vermont Health Care Innovation Project. The projected increase is largely due to the aging of the state’s population. An increase in the number of senior citizens will mean an increase in the need for the kind of services LPNs provide.

The greatest LPN job growth, percentage-wise, has been projected for nursing home and residential care settings, followed by home health. Some growth, albeit significantly less, is expected in inpatient, outpatient, and office settings. The preparers note, however, that increases in preventative services delivered to the elderly could mean that more elders were able to remain in their own homes and that there could be shift towards community and home settings. Some variables are impossible to predict like whether new care delivery systems will increase or decrease the need for nurses. Among the many things to take into account: people living longer.

Growth has been projected across all Vermont service areas.

LPN Salary in Vermont

Vermont LPNs earned an average of $23.34 per hour in 2017. There is some variability by geographic area, with the highest earnings reported in the Burlington-South Burlington area. There is greater variability, though, within regions, with those at the 10th percentile in the Burlington area earning $19.77, those at the 90th percentile earning $30.72.

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