What is a Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse?

The profession of nursing is defined by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org) as follows:

Licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/VN): An individual who has completed a state-approved practical or vocational nursing program, passed the NCLEX-PN Examination, and is licensed by a state board of nursing to provide patient care. Normally works under the supervision of a registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse or physician.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (known as LPNs or LVNs, depending on the state in which they work) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses work in many settings, including nursing homes and extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians' offices, and private homes. Most work full time.

In order to become a licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse, one must complete a state-approved educational program, which usually takes 1 year. They also must pass an exam and get a license before they can work. The median annual wage of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was $40,380 in May 2010 and the number or LPN or LVNs is expected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

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