LPNs: Myths And Misconceptions (Part IV)

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    Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) play a significant role in the delivery of healthcare in the United States and other countries. However, people continue to perpetuate nasty falsehoods regarding LPNs. This is the fourth and final article of a four-part essay that will expose the biggest myths and misconceptions that plague today's LPN workforce.

    Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) have made significant contributions to the nursing profession in several different countries for many years. However, a multitude of myths and misconceptions exist that threaten to tarnish their importance to healthcare.

    The first article of this four-part essay lists several persistent myths regarding the role of the LPN, and the second article mentions a few more. The third essay in this collection also contains a handful of myths about LPNs. Keep reading, because more misconceptions exist.

    Myth number ten: LPNs cannot see the big picture.

    I recently read an article that attempted to describe the differences between LPNs and RNs by mentioning that the LPN is task-oriented, while the RN sees the bigger picture. Again, the ability to see the big picture is not an innate ability. Rather, it is something that is cultivated with the passage of time and the accrual of experience. In other words, this varies from nurse to nurse. I have met RNs who are very task-oriented and worked with LPNs who can analyze everything that is occurring with their patients to see the big picture. Of course, I have also met the stereotypical task-oriented LPN many times.

    Myth number eleven: LPNs cannot touch IVs.

    This privilege is totally dependent on the state in which the LPN practices nursing. Some state boards of nursing, such as the ones located in Texas and Oklahoma, will permit their LVNs/LPNs to engage in intravenous therapy and even perform skills such as the pushing of IV medications. Other state boards of nursing, such as the one in New York, are very restrictive regarding the LPN’s participation in intravenous therapy.

    Myth number twelve: LPNs cannot teach or be educators.

    With the right mix of experience, LPNs are allowed to become instructors for nursing assistant (CNA) training programs. In addition, LPNs are permitted to secure employment as instructors in medical assisting programs at trade schools and adult education centers. In fact, I attended a state-approved medical assisting program approximately 12 years ago at a trade school that was owned and operated by an experienced LVN. She also taught the medical assisting courses and served as the director of education for the school.

    The main goal of this four-part essay has been to debunk and/or challenge common misconceptions about LPNs. Please correct the next person who makes half-baked statements about LPNs. We all must share accountability for erasing the myths and misconceptions about the LPN's special role in the nursing profession.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jul 12, '12
    DogWmn, tazmom, HazelLPN, and 12 others like this.

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    About TheCommuter, ASN, RN

    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.

    TheCommuter has '9' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 33 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 28,518; Likes: 41,995. You can follow TheCommuter on My Website

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    27 Comments so far...

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    have to compliment you again on this very thorough series of essays, commuter! it's so great to be able to point people to such practical information in one place. kudos! (i'm still using the word )
    itsmejuli and TheCommuter like this.
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    Most of the people who write about LPNs are RNs who have never spent one day as an LPN. In fact, a physician wrote a rather scathing article about LPNs several years ago. Click on the link below to read it.
    AMDA: Publications - Caring for the Ages - October 2004

    Since I was once an LPN, I figure that my voice and words might have just a little more credibility than the so-called nursing leaders, academic types, and MDs who claim to know so much about LPNs.
    HazelLPN, realnursealso/LPN, mc3, and 1 other like this.
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    When I was a brand new grad at the ripe old age of 18.....it was a LPN that gave me the guidance and knowledge of all her years that made me the RN I am today.

    Another great article!!!!:bowingpur
    HazelLPN and TheCommuter like this.
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    first of all, i went back and reread the previous chapters of this enlightening subject in order to get a better prospective and i must say you truly captured the full essence of the subject on hand. needless to say, i thoroughly enjoyed all 4 parts of your essays. having said that, i must confess that i as well were once an lpn and experienced the same myths that you have divulge in your essays. therefore, on behalf of all lpn/lvn's i would like to congratulate you for bestowing upon us these well written and informative articles, as i bow before you keep up the good work looking forward to your next article....aloha~
    HazelLPN, JustBeachyNurse, mc3, and 1 other like this.
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    Congratulations on a wonderful article.I enjoyed reading all articles
    TheCommuter likes this.
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    I read the article Commuter (and thanks for yours!) by the physician - and what I found was that he argued that LPNs don't have consistent preparation and training - which I have to agree with. Many LTC facilities don't invest in education for their LPNs - I would like to see more of that myself. He didn't say anywhere that there shouldn't be LPNs - just more education provided directed toward them.
    TheCommuter likes this.
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    Hmmmmm....I have to disagree with withasmilelpn. In my LPN program we spent more time in clinicals than the RN students did at my school, so not enough training and preparation is not accurate in my opinion
    mc3, Wild Irish LPN, Fiona59, and 1 other like this.
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    I agree with nurse-bear. Many times, in our clinicals, we were told we were heads above the RN students in training and care.
    TheCommuter likes this.
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    Quote from TheCommuter
    Most of the people who write about LPNs are RNs who have never spent one day as an LPN. In fact, a physician wrote a rather scathing article about LPNs several years ago. Click on the link below to read it.
    AMDA: Publications - Caring for the Ages - October 2004
    Just read it. Too bad there's no space there for comments. Let's hope his opinion has evolved since he wrote that thing in 2004!

    -withasmilelpn - I would never disagree with anyone who advocates for more education within one's specific area of work. This writer assumes that what LPNs lack an RN of the same experience would have. I don't believe that is true. All nurses should be educated at a higher level when they gain employment in a specialized area, whether it's oncology, home health, pediatrics, LTC - whatever.

    The article also contains many of the myths pointed out by the Commuter, such as "LPNs cannot assess" and "LPNs cannot see the big picture".
    Last edit by nursel56 on Jul 12, '12 : Reason: added something
    HazelLPN and TheCommuter like this.

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