New LPN here, I started out in LTC, which is where most of the opportunities for LPN's are. Here, in GA, there are very limited positions for LPN's in the hospitals and the ones that are available require a couple years' experience. My job hunt was frustrating to say the least, because I didn't think LTC would be for me. Now, however, since I'm working in LTC, I love it. It does has its drawbacks. Probably the largest of the negatives aspects of LTC is that in my facility we don't have a sub-acute/rehab unit, so I'm not getting to expand my skills in the med-surg area very much, which has me second guessing myself quite a bit if a resident "goes bad". I call the MD more quickly than I probably would if I had more experience in dealing with the actual disease processes than I do. On the other hand, I've become very familiar with Congestive heart failure, Alzheimers Disease, COPD, Schizophrenia, and Diabetes since a large majority of our residents are suffering from these disorders. Also on the negative side, LTC is quite often under-staffed and being short just one CNA at night can have a big negative impact on time management and sometimes, quality of care because the residents have to wait longer to have their needs met.
The positive aspects of my job are: Most of the residents are great, and learning their different personality traits has been interesting. It's hard to communicate with some of them, but the large majority have distinct personalities and communication styles that I soon learned that has made communication much more theraputic. Even the residents with brain damage who are unresponsive to verbal stimuli are a delight for me to take care of. I'm doing a service for them that makes their quality of life better, and that makes me feel great about my job. Another positive aspect of my job is that I take care of the same residents on a daily basis, so time management wise, my job is easy. I rarely have to stay over late, and if I do it is usually to finish charting, or to make out incident reports if someone fell or something. Another plus to working LTC, I work with the same CNA's every time I work. I have great CNA's who actually make my job easier. There is only one CNA who works occassionaly on my shift that calls out a lot making it harder on the rest of us, but she's on probation right now, so I don't expect her to be around much longer.
My salary is $16 hr, M-F $16.50 weekends and holidays. Much less than RN's make, but more than a hospital or office LPN makes. As far as OT goes, I could pick up several extra shifts on my days off during the pay period if I wanted to, but it's usually on a different shift, so I don't normally pick up days. Alot of nurses do, however. A couple "ride the clock" for an hour or so after their shift ends, which they are not suppose to do, but until Admin. does something to discourage them, I don't see it stopping. OT is there,the amount just depends on what you are willing to do to accumulate it.
By the way, unless you already have your pre requisite classes (Eng, Math, Psych., etc) out of the way, you probably won't finish your nursing program in a year. One year is the time it takes to finish your actual NSG classes/clinicals. It took me right at two years to finish my LPN from start to finish.
Whether to become and LPN or not is a personal decision that will be different for each person. Me? I love my job, but I'm older and bedside care is what I love and want to do. If you are looking for a larger more varied job market, my suggestion would be to go on a pursue your RN degree.