LPNs: Myths and Misconceptions (Part I)
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) play an integral role in the delivery of healthcare in the United States and several other countries. However, numerous people continue to perpetuate some pervasive falsehoods regarding LPNs. This four-part essay will expose the biggest myths and misconceptions that plague today's LPN workforce.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) have impacted the delivery of healthcare in a positively beneficial manner in multiple countries for many years. In fact, the role of the LPN has been in existence for several generations. However, LPNs remain largely misunderstood in the sphere of nursing, and this can be evidenced by the boldly inaccurate statements that are routinely made by other nurses and members of the public.
The rampant spread of distorted information about LPNs can be traced back to numerous people, some of whom have never even worked one day in the healthcare field. A few of the most persistent myths regarding LPNs are listed below.
Myth #1: LPNs are not real nurses.
Some individuals have made light of the LPN acronym and have insisted that it stands for 'Little Pretend Nurse.' Other people have bluntly stated that LPNs are not real nurses. However, this could not be farther from the truth.
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a nurse who has successfully completed a practical nursing program, and has passed the NCLEX-PN, the state licensing exam (Palm Beach State College, n.d.). LPNs are definitely nurses who are valid members of the nursing profession. After all, what do people really think that the 'N' in 'LPN' represents?
Myth #2: LPNs are not equipped to care for patients.
Some nurse managers, leaders of nursing organizations, and nursing educators have expressed their opinions that LPNs are not adequately equipped to provide care to patients due to the complex nature of the different disease processes that present to the healthcare system. However, LPNs have completed a high proportion of hands-on clinical hours during their training programs.
They have been able to hold their own as nurses in multiple practice settings, including acute care, long-term care, psychiatric nursing, jail
/prison nursing, home health, private duty, rehab nursing, and so forth. They have also been more than capable of learning about the complex issues that afflict their patients.
Myth number three: All LPNs secretly wish they could be RNs.
It is true that many LPNs want to be registered nurses (RNs), and some are actively pursuing their goals by returning to school. However, there are many nurses who are perfectly satisfied with their careers as LPNs, and therefore, have no burning desire to become RNs.
Some people would say, "Why would anyone in their right mind want to stay an LPN?" These people need to be reminded that practical nursing is a respectable career pathway that has satisfied many LPNs professionally and personally.
The overriding goal of this four-part essay is to debunk and/or challenge the deeply ingrained misconceptions about LPNs. Please do not hesitate to correct the next person who says something blatantly inaccurate about the LPN workforce. Each and every one of us shares some responsibility for putting a stop to the myths, lies, and insults regarding LPNs. We can make a difference, one person at a time.Last edit by TheCommuter on Jan 26, '15
About TheCommuter, BSN, RN Moderator
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.
Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,035; Likes: 69,253
CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
Specialty: 11 year(s) of experience in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psychJun 22, '12Where I worked as an RN the LPNS were usually awesome (there's always a few ones that are rotten, but that's any group of nurses) and worked hard, were smart, knew their stuff. I say yay for LPNS. As an RN I never felt "superior" or "better" than they were, just different and taught some additional tasks.Jun 22, '12Commuter you rock! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for this post. We really need a "love" button on AN.
I couldn't agree with you more about the myths of being a LPN. When I was a LPN I heard the same myths and constantly had to defend my reasons for being a LPN.
I've had family members demand to speak to the Real Nurse, and totally disregarded anything I had to say. However, when their family member was dying or needed quick nursing interventions I was there every step of the way.
I always held my head up high because I knew who I was and I knew what my goals were. My goal was to work as a LPN for a couple years then get my RN and get hospital experience.
I did it! I became a RN six months ago and currently work in ICU. Now that I'm a ADN now I have to defend that... it never ends!
I plan to get my BSN then MSN but I'm taking baby steps.
Your posts says it all, thanks once again.Jun 22, '12onlybyhisgracern- Totally agree! I feel like I have to defend my ADN every day versus BSN even though I take the same test and do the same tasks. I am working on my BSN but I refuse to let people tell me I'm less than or not as good as a BSN just 'cause I wanted to save myself 10,000 dollars lol.Jun 22, '12I have a bachelors, so of course when I decided to pursue LPN route people were all, "That's a waste. Why didn't you just go to an accelerated program and get a BSN. Why are you taking a step down". It's almost like getting a BSN is a golden ticket, and people don't understand why you don't want it. For me, it's just not something I want to pay 20,000 for at this point in time.Jun 22, '12having been an lpn many many moon s ago i can honestly say that the essay is dead on, thank you for sharing this article with us...aloha~Jun 22, '12I love this post. LPN's are great and definitely real nurses no matter what anyone says. I constantly have to defend my ADN education too. I had a nurse manager tell me today that i need to get a BSN when I told her I was in an ADN program. Im so over it!Jun 22, '12With new avenues of continuing education opening up every day it seems, the percentage of nurses who worked as LPNs before becoming RNs will grow. Yet, for those people who are happy as LPNs, have no desire to be managers or administrators, more power to you! We have enough miserable people in nursing. Do what makes you happy!
Thank you, CommuterJun 22, '12Excellent excellent excellent. There are so few well written and researched articles about LPNs because most LPNs are not researchers. They are bedside nurses. I learned enough about nursing research in class for my BSN (which I never completed, long story short, my husband got sick and life got in the way) to realize that not all research is solid and sometimes articles get published in scholarly journals based on biased and poorly designed research. I'm glad that you have chosen to be an informed and articulate mouthpiece for LPNs on these boards.
I would love to see an article about veteran LPNs as an asset in healthcare because so many are being forced out of their jobs in acute care despite many years of practice and dedicated service to the hospital. I understand if a hospital wishes to phase out LPNs by attrition and hire BSNs only, but to force them out and use biased and poorly designed research to support their decisions to lay them off or worse...offer them positions far below their level of training and pay....and further suggest that they somehow provide unsafe care is criminal. Let these old gals (and some old guys) remain doing what they have been doing for years and continue to provide exceptional nursing care and retired with dignity. Formal education is important, but experience is the best teacher.
Kuddos ten times to you, Commuter.
Mrs H.Jun 22, '12Quote from HazelLPNI will see if I can come up with enough quality information to create an article about veteran LPNs in healthcare, Hazel. If so, expect another article in the near future.I would love to see an article about veteran LPNs as an asset in healthcare because so many are being forced out of their jobs in acute care despite many years of practice and dedicated service to the hospital.Jun 23, '12"All LPNs secretly wish they could be RNs."
Totally preposterous & absolutely absurd!
Some want to be NP's!
Seriously - can't speak for where you guys work, but where I work the lion's share of the patient care is done by the LVN's & CNA's; the RN's tend to function more as management staff than anything else. Not belittling or denigrating - just an observation.
And, as far as whether LVN's are "real" nurses - well, the CNA's thinks so; the patients think so; the families think so; and presumably management thinks so as well, 'cause they're making more moolah than I do!
As for me - should be joining the ranks of the LVN's in about, oh, 24 months or so; Ghod & NCLEX-PN willing.
----- DaveJun 26, '12Thank you thank you thank you. I'm a don't want to be an RN LPN.
One of the saddest things about nursing in accute care is the loss of LPN's and going to CNA/RN care. When I worked in a hospital it was all RN's and LPN's and the care those patients got was much better than what I observe as a patient sitter today.
Again, thanksJun 27, '12Wonderful article. Everyone should regard LPNs as nurses who are as competent as Registered Nurses. There shouldn't be any competition between the two careers.
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