“Are LPNs Being Phased Out?”
It's a question we hear more and more often these days—and if you happen to be a Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LPN), it's one of the most important questions in the world.
The good news is, your job is probably safe. At least, for now. There's currently a nursing shortage in the US, and as long at that shortage remains, there will be a need for LPNs.
In fact, with so many baby boomers entering old age (and requiring extra medical care), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for LPNs will increase by 12% during the ten-year period ending in 2026.
That said, the job market is shifting. LPNs in today's job market are often outflanked by candidates with more advanced degrees. For example, the BLS predicts that demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) will increase by 15% over that same ten-year time period. Ultimately, the answer to that question we posed up above? It's “yes.”
In response, many LPNs are choosing to become Registered Nurses, often by enrolling in an LPN to RN bridge program. Here are four important reasons they're going back to school—and why you owe it to yourself to consider taking the plunge as well.
4 Massive Challenges Facing the Modern LPN
1. Limited Job Opportunities: As medical disciplines and practices become more specialized, an increasing number of job openings are shutting out LPNs and requiring an RN (or higher)—especially on the hospital floor. For example, an LPN is rarely allowed to work in critical care or the ER. As a result, the majority of LPN positions today are relegated to nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and home care—all noble pursuits, without question. But with less career flexibility than an RN or BSN would have.
2. Limited Autonomy: In most positions, the LPN won’t have any autonomy and must answer to an RN. The LPN’s role may be very limited—and that often translates directly to decreased job security.
3. Legal Restrictions: Legally, an LPN cannot assess, diagnose or evaluate care of a patient. Even if the LPN disagrees with the supervising RN on diagnosis or treatment, he or she cannot change the tasks they are assigned to complete. (However, if the LPN feels an assigned task will have dire effects on the patient, the LPN can escalate the issue further up the chain of command.)
4. Experience Counts Less Than Education: Unfair as it may seem, time spent actually doing the job counts far less than an advanced degree for many positions. This can be especially frustrating for an LPN who has been on the job for many years and may know more about actual patient care than the fresh-out-of-school RN who is assigned as his or her supervisor.
Is There a Future for LPNs?
The role of the LPN was introduced during World War II to supplement nursing shortages when RNs entered the military. For now, LPNs will continue to find work because there is still a nursing shortage, an LPN license can be obtained quickly, and LPNs earn less than RNs, which saves employers money.
However, LPN job opportunities will continue to dwindle over time, as more and more nursing positions shift to require candidates with advanced degrees. In fact, the majority of hospitals in the U.S. already prefer to hire RNs over LPNs (and even BSNs over RNs, but that's a subject for another article). Even when LPNs do get hired, most medical facilities encourage them to continue their studies and take advantage of accelerated LPN to RN degree programs.
If you're interested in one of those LPN to RN programs, Achieve Test Prep is here to help. Our post, “LPN to RN Online Programs: Tips for Sorting Out the Good, Bad, & Ugly,” will help you determine what form of continued education is right for you. For even more information or to enroll in one of our LPN to RN nursing programs, contact us today.
*This post has been republished with current information.