I would like to echo what I have seen so much on many different nursing boards I have read across the internet. Are LPNs still in demand? The answer really depends on what the job market is like in your area and where you are trying to work. I am currently working as a CNA at a local hospital. My goal is eventually get my RN license. The advice I was given by my nurse manager on the unit I work is to avoid getting my LPN and just go for the two year, if not the BSN. This advice she was giving me was if I wanted a job at the hospital where I work.
I live in Delaware, which is quite often lumped into the Philadelphia or tri-state region. The trend in this region, according to my nurse manager, seems to be that hospitals are opting not to hire many LPNs anymore because they are looking for a more prestigious status (ie Magnet status), which administrators say is achieved by having a higher RN to patient ratio, which ultimately means better patient outcomes. LPNs can still be found in my hospital and no doubt others, but they are only in specific areas, such as the OR and the fast track section of the ER.
Also, if you live in a more rural or small-town area, local hospitals are more likely to still employ LPNs. However, with regional or big city hospitals, they are more likely to hire a more skilled and educated nursing staff. In Delaware, LPNs must still practice under the license of an RN, meaning they cannot practice independently. For example, at the hospital, the one LPN who works on my Med/Surg unit cannot push IV narcotics, so she must always get an RN to do this task for her.
So then, where can LPNs expect to find jobs? In my area, this would be long-term care, doctors offices to an extent (Medical Assistants are becoming more common), home care, and various state facilities (prisons, schools, health and social services). My fiancee's grandmother who works in Philadelphia has been an LPN for years in home health and makes good money. Other nurses I have spoken to started out as LPNs in nursing homes.
It has been said for years that LPNs are being "phased out," but this is probably not going to be happening any time soon. Just take the case of long-term care: These facilities probably cannot afford to hire a nursing staff of all RNs because the cost would be too high. Not to belittle what the roll of nursing encompasses, but let's break it down to its most basic tasks in LTC. Someone must be there to hand out the meds - the LPN, someone must be there to assist with activities of daily living, the CNA, and someone must be there to supervise the LPNs and CNAs - the RN. I honestly can't see this structure changing much for the time being, at least not in an LTC setting.
In fact, I have even heard it said around the hospital I work that in years to come, as healthcare costs continue to rise, RNs will actually have a more difficult time finding work in LTC, as the ratio of LPNs and CNAs to residents will undoubtedly increase.
As a final note, let me talk about the "nursing shortage." What this amounts to in my area, at least, is not really a shortage of people willing to go into nursing, but a shortage of the resources to TRAIN new nurses. Most of the local nursing programs
in my area have some sort of waiting period for a clinical seat. So the problem is not that there aren't enough people who want to be nurses, but that there aren't enough nursing instructors, facilities aren't large enough to handle to bigger and bigger class sizes, and state or private funding is not there to expand nursing programs.