Advancing Your Career | Licensing Info

What Is An LPN? An Overview of a Licensed Practical Nurse

  • Maybe you’ve asked the question ‘what is an LPN?’ Licensed practical nurses work in a restricted nursing capacity under the delegation and supervision of a registered nurse. They are a step above certified nursing assistants (CNAs).  
  • LPNs start out the same as nursing, but their schooling is shorter to corresponding with their scope of practice. 
  • LPNs work with RNs and CNAs to coordinate patient care. Whether your exploring the different career paths in nursing, or you are a new nurse trying to understand nursing staff hierarchy, this will be a perfect introduction to what is an LPN. 

Katy Luggar-Schmit


June 13, 2022
Simmons University

Are you an individual with great compassion and patience with a desire to help others? If so, then becoming a licensed practice nurse (LPN) might be right for you.  

It is often asked, what is an LPN?  

When people think of the nursing profession they frequently think of Registered Nurses (RNs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Where does the LPN fit into all this?  

Right in the middle! Being an LPN myself, I may be a little biased when I say the middle is the best place to be!

What Is an LPN?

Let me explain what is an LPN and why you should consider pursuing a career as one. LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse.  

As a Licensed Practical Nurse, you are able to provide nursing care to patients in collaboration with Registered Nurses. The care you provide will vary depending on which type of facility you choose to work.

Some of the duties one may have are medication passes, monitoring vital signs and reporting changes in health status, processing physician orders, overseeing CNA staff, completing dressing changes, catheter changes, skin assessments, and any other tasks within the LPN scope of practice delegated by the registered nurse working with you.  

Now that I have piqued your interest, how do you become an LPN?

what is an lpn in skilled nursing

Education and Training

Like Registered Nurses, LPNs must go through extensive training and a state board exam to get certified to practice in the state of their choice.  

Fast program completion is one of the benefits of choosing a career as a licensed practical nurse. You can complete an LPN program in as little as twelve months or as much as two years.  

During the LPN program you will be taught ethics in nursing, pharmacology and medication dosing, and many other courses deemed appropriate by the school of your choosing.  

You will also practice a variety of hands-on nursing skills in front of your nurse educators.  

Upon completion of all in class education you will have LPN clinical experience which allows you to practice what you learned in various healthcare settings under the supervision of licensed nurses.  

Once clinicals are completed you are set to graduate and start studying for the state board exam called the NCLEX-PN 

Studying for the state exam can be intense and time consuming and I suggest that if you are able to, decrease working hours to study that you do so.  

Upon passing the board exam, you will be able to begin practicing as an LPN. 

In comparison to LPN program completion, a bachelor’s degree in nursing takes about four years to complete. If you decide to pursue an RN degree later, you are already halfway there.  

Having the option to work as an LPN and gain experience while you advance your career is another benefit to completing the LPN program first. Should you decide to pursue an RN degree later, the experience you gain as an LPN will only contribute to your later success as an RN. 


what is an lpn nursing school

Where Can LPNs Work?

LPNs can work in a wide range of settings and there is always a great need for LPNs. As an LPN you may work in a nursing home, home health care, hospitals, clinics, outpatient surgery centers, and many more. The opportunities are endless as an LPN in the nursing field. 


What is the pay like for an LPN?  

Pay will vary depending on the state and type of area in which one works.  From my personal experience as of 2022, you can expect to be paid a minimum of $18 per hour starting.  

Of course, years of experience will also be factored in when wage is decided, and the wage will rise with time. 

Advice for a New LPN

What would my advice be for an LPN? As a new LPN, do not be afraid to try different areas of nursing to see which one you like the best and are the most enthusiastic about.  

The more enthusiastic you are about your area of nursing, the less it will feel like work and the more you will enjoy it. I have six years of LPN experience and I have worked in a variety of settings including nursing homes, inpatient psychiatry, and specialty clinics.  

The knowledge I have gained from all areas is invaluable and lessons I can take with me as I continue my nursing career. 



what is an lpn with a nurse

The Bottom Line

LPN school can be incredibly stressful but if you remain focused on the end goal and your desire to help others the accomplishment in the end will be well worth it.  

As a nurse, you can touch a lot of lives and witness a lot of life-changing moments in the patients you come across. You cannot put a price on that.

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